Of the thousands of victims of child molestation each year, many of them remain silent, sometimes for years, without anyone realizing they need help.A girl and her mother recently spoke with 6News in hopes that their voices will be heard and will help other children.
The mother told 6News' Julie Pursley that she had taught her daughter about good touch and bad touch, and that her child had heard the same message in school.
Those are reasons why she thinks her child was brave enough to let her know when someone they thought was safe betrayed their trust. 6News did not reveal their identities.
The mother said she had no idea her daughter would be in danger when she went to spend a night at a friend's home.
"You just don't know what is lurking behind a person," the mother said. "Two days later, she told me that she needed to talk to me as I was putting her to bed. That's when she told me she had been molested."
The molester was a man living at the friend's home. The incident happened while other people were sleeping nearby.
"I didn't say anything. I was afraid (that) he would try to do something, like try to hurt me," the girl said.
The girl said she got to her cell phone in the middle of the night.
"I called my mom, and he offered me a ride home. I said, 'No, my mom will come and get me,'" the girl said.
"She was very adamant. She wanted to come home," the mother said.
The child's mother said she feels guilty because her daughter had been reluctant about staying at the home. What she didn't know was that the man had touched the girl before.
"I didn't ask. I just thought she was afraid to spend the night," the mother said.
Emily Perry, a therapist and social worker who counsels victims of molestation, said children often don't speak up because of fear.
"The best thing is to know your child, to know their normal behaviors and know their normal reactions and responses to people," Perry said.
Perry said parents should ask questions and create opportunities for their children to talk when they feel uncomfortable and should also teach body safety.
"They might say, 'This is your private part, and nobody is supposed to touch your private part,' but they forget to say, 'It's OK to say no. It's OK to run away, and it's OK to tell somebody.'"
Anyone who finds that their child has been victimized by a molester should contact police and seek counseling for the child.
The Indianapolis Institute For Families works with victims in an attempt to prevent future problems, such as depression and relationship issues.
"Any traumatized victim can experience a lifetime of symptoms," said Diane Burks of the Indianapolis Institute for Families. "Early intervention and treatment can cut that down significantly and help them find positive ways to recover and minimize those kinds of symptoms."
The institute designs special therapy for children, including a program called Healing with Horses. Burks said the animals bond with the children and give feedback through their responses.
"The horses become therapeutic partners for them and help them through finding solutions for their own recovery," Burks said. "I can't remove that experience from their life, but I can certainly help them find ways to constructively use that life experience to help others to recover so they can be fully functioning citizens again."
The girl who shared her story said she hopes it will help other kids.
"I want kids to know that if something is going wrong in your home, or if you know someone is being molested, they need to do something about it," the girl said. "You need to tell somebody, because then it will stop and you will be safe."
The man who molested the girl is now serving time in prison because she spoke out. Investigators found she wasn't his only victim.
# Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-800-5556