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Are adult abuse victims getting the attention they deserve?

A recent abuse case in Pennsylvania has advocates for abuse victims talking about gender, age and reporting requirements. The recent case involves a young man who reported that he was abused by a Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer while attending middle school during the 1998-99 school year. 

The first issue that prompts discussion is the fact that the victim waited to report the abuse to officials. This is certainly not a new conversation nor is it an uncommon situation, say victim advocates. 

In this case, the victim and the alleged perpetrator were both males. The manager of A Child's Place at Mercy, a child advocacy center was interviewed in a recent news report for insight into some of these issues. According to manager Joan Mills, male-on-male abuse often goes unreported by the victim. 

Another victim advocate named Scott Berkowitz, with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, said that the social stigmas and fear of the public's response often keeps victims of these situations silent. 

For those that do end up reporting after growing into adulthood often receive more scrutiny, according to Mills. "When young children disclose (abuse)," she said, "we might pay a little more attention."

In this case, when the victim did report the abuse, no one immediately contacted police. When they were eventually told of the abuse, the police took a statement, but that is where the process stopped. For what reason? It isn't clear at this point, but investigators in the current case against the officer said no records could be found. 

Failure to report in instances such as this one prompted a law in 2007 that requires anyone who works with or around children to immediately report any suspicions of child abuse, especially when a victim says it did. 

Whether reported early or later, victims deserve representation too. But sadly, many are unaware that they have rights. Victims of sexual abuse should know that there are attorneys who advocate on their behalf. 

Source: Trib Live, "Lellock victim disclosed sex abuse at school 3 times before case," Adam Brandolph, Aug. 4, 2013

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