HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and this important issue brought dozens of people to the Log Cabin in Holyoke Friday morning.
One woman who was abused as a child told 22News how important it is to speak up.
It took a lot of courage, but Sophia from Springfield got up in front of a crowd at the Log Cabin in Holyoke to share her story. She was the victim of child abuse for 5 years.
“He took advantage of a vulnerable girl and it wasn’t fair and for the next 5 years I was trapped,” Sophia said.
She was living with her abuser who took her in after her mother passed. Hundreds of thousands of kids just like her are abused nationwide each year.
This is something that’s happening in our area. Experts say last year there were 400 cases of child abuse reported in Hampshire and Franklin counties. Of those cases 200 kids needed services.
It’s why the Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center hosted this breakfast to raise awareness and encourage people to call the state’s department of children and families if you suspect someone is being abused.
“It can help the child from further abuse, it can help the child get services, it can help with healing for the child, and a prosecution might come about because someone reported it,” said Susan Loehn, executive director of the Northwestern Children’s Advocacy Center.
After telling more than one person, Sophia’s abuse ended two years ago and now she’s here to encourage other kids to speak up.
“I love the person who I’ve become because I fought to become her, I’m going to school, I’m working,” she added.
She’s working to get into college, while her convicted abuser sits in a jail cell.