A record number of abuse victims were helped by Amberly’s Place Family Advocacy Center in 2019. Amberly’s Place helped 2,772 victims of abuse in Yuma County and parts of Imperial County.
On the surface, it might appear that more people are being abused. However, Diane Umphress, executive director, called it a “good year” because it’s more likely that more victims are reporting the abuse.
“Yuma County continues to help us take the stigma out of reporting child abuse,” Umphress said, adding, “We have experienced many firsts.”
The agency did more than help a record number of victims. Thanks to sponsors, it provided 25 Thanksgiving dinners to families “who have suffered abuse and would not have this holiday meal without support.”
Then the agency had 35 families adopted for Christmas. “This is a first to help this many families at Christmas time. Some of the families we were notified of right before Christmas, however, we had people waiting and wanting to help them,” Umphress said.
“I can’t imagine the feeling of a parent who has been displaced or traumatized due to abuse watching a child open up Christmas presents or having a gift left from Santa on Christmas morning when only days or hours before you were the victim of abuse and scared.”
Umphress noted that when people and companies donate for families at Christmas or snacks or money for emergency needs, the message the children receive is strong: “We believe you and we care about you. Advocates, when working with families, make sure they know the community support they are receiving as it does help the healing process.”
MORE THAN STATISTICS
Umphress also pointed out that each one of the numbers in these statistics are people.
This year Amberly’s Place assisted 195 primary victims of child sexual abuse in Yuma County. National child abuse statistics indicate that only 1 child in 9 ever report abuse.
“That shows us how very many go unreported each year. Children fear they won’t be believed. They are kids and the adult voice to them carries more authority, thus they keep the secret for years or decades,” Umphress said.
However, she also noted the number of secondary victims of child sexual abuse who were also impacted by the crime: 434. “These children are also traumatized and need help dealing with a fragmented family and feeling safe again.”
Last year, Amberly’s Place helped 638 primary victims of domestic violence, the ones who experienced the abuse, while the agency also assisted 949 secondary victims, many of them children.
Umphress pointed out that the statistics show more females (1,981) than males (1,027) and more children (1,543) than adults (1375) were victims of abuse in Yuma County.
“These children are our future parents and leaders. Please report all forms of abuse and take a stand. Become educated on services in your community and never dismiss a person’s disclosure of abuse that could be the first time they have reached out for help,” she said.
‘ONE DEATH IS WAY TOO MANY’
“We continue to have deaths due to domestic violence in this county. One death is way too many. The long-term impact to a family doesn’t go away. Domestic violence is way too common in our society and should not be tolerated by anyone,” Umphress said.
“Hear or see abuse? Call it in and report it,” she added. “Those 949 children, secondary victims who are living with emotional as well as physical scars need someone, so please be their voice and speak up. Children and victims are threatened if they call the police, thus making you and I reporting the abuse even more important for the victims.”
Once again, she expressed appreciation to community members and officials for stepping up. “This is an amazing community, and I am thankful for our elected officials that take a stand against abuse and encourage people to report. It is not just the police officer or the court’s job to stop abuse. The real impact starts with you and I taking a stand,” Umphress said.
“Please join with us and take that stand, make the report and donate to support a victim of abuse. Together we can and will make a difference.”
The Amberly’s Place 24/7 helpline is 928-373-0849.