Damaged: Perspectives on Abuse Part 2 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Damaged: Perspectives on Abuse Part 2

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GALENA, IL (KWWL) -- According to educators at the Riverview Center, 85 percent of sexual assault victims know their abusers. In part one of our series, we introduced you to two women who were victims of abuse as children.

Now in part two a special assignment report Damaged: Perspectives on Abuse, one crisis center and the people working there are fighting the statistics and teach everyone proper relationship roles.

24-hour help, counseling, legal and medical services, and extensive prevention. Decades ago, these resources were tough to find; now there is help for victims, would-be victims, and even potential abusers.

The Riverview Center offers counseling to hundreds of victims every year, from children to adults.

"More individuals are coming forward because they're feeling empowered because they've seen others come forward and saying, you know, I need help," Executive Director Josh Jasper said.

"Finally, I said to myself, I've got to do something about this. There's something that's not right. If I don't deal with this, this is how I'm going to live forever," Laura Berning said.

Berning was sexually abused as a child by her brother-in-law.

Half of adults who go to Riverview are coping with abuse that happened years ago.

"I went to Riverview and actually within a fairly short time, probably because I'd already had some counseling, really found a place where they were very supportive. It was like I was carrying this huge burden around, and they relieved me of it," Christina Rios said.

As a child, Rios was physically abused by her mother, raped by neighbors, and as a teen assaulted by a family friend.

"I just told god, I said, if I can use these experiences to help other people, then it'll be worth it. I said that when I was like ten, and I never lost that feeling," Rios said.

Now, she uses her past to educate future generations as a prevention educator with Riverview She visits with children as young as three years old.

By the numbers, Riverview Center's executive director Josh Jasper has set a massive task for himself and others. One in three women and one in six men will be sexually abused by age 18; he wants those numbers to be zero.

Jasper plans to end sexual violence with prevention and education, not just by teaching potential victims how to avoid abuse, but by educating potential abusers.

"99 and a half percent of all sexual violence perpetrated is done by men, so it only makes sense to engage men in the work of prevention because that's not to say that all men are violent. It's just to say that men have a significant role and responsibility in ending this type of violence," Jasper said.

Jasper knows the statistics are daunting, but he and others are working one day at a time to shatter the numbers.

"That one in three statistic can absolutely go away. Absolutely can go away. I believe it in my heart. I believe that every single day I come to work is a day that I get closer to working myself out of a job," Jasper said.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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