The Child Abuse Listening and Mediation group, also known as CALM, is reportedly seeing a spike in child sex abuse cases in Santa Barbara County.
"Before I came to CALM, I didn't want to live, I was really depressed, I didn't tell anyone what happened to me," said Cecilia Rodriguez, reading from a 15-year-old victim's story.
Rodriguez is the CALM executive director and reportedly said drawings and stories from victims help them heal.
She says the amount of abuse cases reported might surprise some.
"We've had 22 cases reported to us thus far in 2012, compared to 21 in 2011 and actually 32 in 2010," said Sgt. Riley Harwood, Santa Barbara Police Department.
But Rodriguez reportedly said her numbers are even higher. Since June, she has spoken to 25 kids countywide under the age of 14 who've said they've been sexually abused.
"It's more than last year at this time."
But there could reportedly be an explanation for the increase. More children are speaking out sooner and adults are contacting authorities, said Rodriguez.
"That's different. Before when I used to do these interviews, it would be often months or even years after the fact," she said.
In the "I Will Not Be Silent" campaign, CALM raised awareness about child abuse and Rodriguez credits that with making victims feel more comfortable with speaking out.
"And I think that that's working. We're developing a community that really is standing for kids, believing kids."
"The issue has been a little bit more in the forefront, in regard to the public," said Sgt. Harwood.
For the reported cases in Santa Barbara this year, there have been nine arrests, four of them forwarded to the District Attorney and three are closed. One has been referred to another law enforcement agency and the rest are still open.
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