By Evie Andreou
More and more members of the public are coming forward to report cases or suspected cases of child sexual abuse, officers of the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (SPAVO) said on Saturday.
Awareness campaigns on child sexual abuse and calls by state officials and organisations for victims to come forward and speak up has encouraged people to pick up the phone and report such cases, or seek advice.
“Every time a big sexual abuse case is reported in the media, people get more suspicious about what they see, what they hear and they call to seek advice when they suspect a member of their family is being abused,” a SPAVO officer said.
It is usually not the victims who call, she said, but neighbours, or family members who might notice changes in the behaviour of children they know and they ask for advice in cases they suspect abuse.
She added that whenever a case is being made public, people feel more comfortable picking up the phone and reporting similar cases or experiences.
“Sometimes people who were abused in the past, call us because they need someone to discuss it with,” she said.
Following the arrest of a family in July, the father, mother and two sons who were suspected of sexually abusing extended family members and other minors between 1992 and 2002, people seem to start trusting the judicial system more, SPAVO’s programmes officer Marios Nicolaou was quoted saying in Phileleftheros.
He added that the publicity such cases receive, and the sentencing of perpetrators encourage more and more individuals to call the association and report their own experiences.
He said that lately many adults call the SPAVO helpline to report their abuse from family members when they were children, either because they want to talk to someone about it or because they need advice on how to report it to the police.
Earlier in the week, a 16-year-old girl reported to the police that her 20-year-old former boyfriend kidnapped and raped her. He is currently under remand. And a 40-year-old man from Nicosia is on trial for after he was reported by his 16-year-old daughter for raping her since she was 12.