Local organizations are helping child sexual abuse victims heal

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. A Clifton man was arrested and charged with 100 felony child sexual assault charges. According to an arrest affidavit, the 24-year-old admits he was a victim of sexual assault. In Mesa County, more than 300 children are subjected to sexual or physical abuse each year, and child abuse advocates say it’s important to get those children the help they need as soon as possible.

The Western Slope Center for Children says that in 2014 they saw an increase in abuse cases by 8 percent, as they had 358 children come through their center. Out of that number, they said that 88 to 90 percent of those cases were child sexual abuse cases.

"We're really trying to beef up our outreach efforts in the community, and making sure people know one how to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse, and most importantly how to report that," said Melissa Lytle, the director of the Western Slope Center For Children.

The program's director says the impacts of abuse long term on children is substantial, and can affect a child’s future relationships. According the center, 91 percent of their victims served in 2014 were abused by someone they knew. This is something the Court Appointed Special Advocates says parents should be teaching their children.

"What is most important to know is that the children being sexually abused, most often time by people they know,” Janet Rowland with CASA explained. “It’s not stranger danger with some of the things we are hearing about."

Both organizations provide mental health services, like support groups to give those children a voice. The Western Slope Center for children also provides a neutral child and family friendly facility where kids can come to be interviewed, as well as receive medical exams if needed.

The director of the Western Slope Center for Children says the reason they've seen an increase in more cases over the past year, could be due to the fact that more people are reporting abuse. To report suspicious behavior you can contact local authorities, law enforcement or the Mesa County Department of Human Services.

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