Sexual abuse can cause lasting damage in children
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – There have already been several sexual assault related arrests involving children in 2020 here in south central Kentucky.
Just this morning, The Warren County Sheriff’s Office arrested Thomas Guthrie.
He is charged with two counts of rape, two counts of incest, four counts of sexual abuse, and one count of indecent exposure.
All counts are involving a victim under the age of 12.
The Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center and Hope Harbor work with children and adults who have suffered sexual trauma.
“A lot of children feel like it’s their fault, so they are more likely to stay quiet about what is happening to them,” said Megan Kyle, a clinical therapist with Hope Harbor.
That sort of abuse on such a young child can have quite a few effects on the victim including mistrust, personality changes and becoming hypervigilant.
“The first and most important step is to believe them because honestly, if a caregiver doesn’t believe a child, sometimes the impact of that can be bigger than the impact of the sexual abuse that happened in the first place,” said Heather Webb, a clinical director and mental health therapist with BRACAC.
Sometimes a young child might express their confusion from the trauma by vicariously acting out sexual circumstances using toys and dolls.
BRACAC encourages parents to teach their children the proper names for body parts and to keep lines of communication open with children.
“With body autonomy, that is a big thing, and that should start when children are able to start talking. Always using the correct body part names and making it something that is not embarrassing to talk about,” said Webb.
Throughout 2019, there were a total of 19 cases of sexual assault with a child under 12 in Warren County and a total of 49 charges within those cases.
KRS 510.040 Rape 4 cases 7 charges
KRS 510.070 Sodomy 5 cases 12 charges
KRS 510.110 Sex Abuse 9 cases 28 charges
KRS 530.020 Incest 1 case 2 charges