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Victims speak out against abuse


April 29, 2010 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.

Cathy Miles reads a poem titled "Letting Go" that she wrote to help her cope with the sexual assault of a family member. Hope of South Texas sponsored Take Back the Night  on Thursday at Victoria Mall.

Cathy Miles decided she was no longer going to be a victim.

Miles, whose family member was a victim of sexual abuse, decided to speak out during the third annual Take Back the Night program on Thursday. The program was designed to bring awareness to sexual assault, sexual abuse and domestic abuse.

"The hardest part was trying to let go of it all," said Miles, who recited her own poem, "Letting Go."

The program was held to commemorate the end of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, said Julie Flessner, executive director of Hope of South Texas.

Held internationally, the event marks a movement begun 30 years ago where women decided to stand up and speak out against sexual violence, said Lt.Ralph Buentello of the Victoria Police Department.

"It was freeing," said Miles, after addressing the crowd of about 75 people.

She said that when her family member was assaulted, the family also became victims.

"It's a process what these victims go through," said Cynthia Ramirez, forensic interviewer for the Hope of South Texas.

An emphasis during the event was placed on the victims and officials who help.

"It's important that we recognize domestic violence because it affects our children," said Kindrea Briseno, investigator for the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Dana Kemper, a victim of sexual abuse, also addressed the crowd at Victoria Mall.

"I'm no longer a victim of it," said Kemper.

Flessner said she hopes this may encourage other victims to come forth.

"Sexual violence lives and breathes in darkness," said Jackie Patek, volunteer of Hope of South Texas.

Miles agreed with Patek and hopes that her speaking about her experience will help others.

"It's hard sharing your life, but if it can help anyone to free them," then it is worthwhile, said Miles, her voice trailing off.



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