Victim’s rights advocates in San Diego are praising the strength and courage of the U.S. National team gymnasts who confronted their former coach, Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to life in prison for abusing women and girls.
And now, those advocates are confident more victims will come forward across the country.
“It cannot be more important. Their breaking the silence, their sharing the story, their coming out with their story is enormous in society. We need more people like that,” said Aliza Amar.
Amar herself has a compelling story. She was sexually abused as a young child and adult. Amar is the founder of an organization called breaking the silence together. Their website with her story can be found here.
Amar was a featured speaker at the "Me Too" rally in San Diego. She says since that time, she’s heard from numerous sexual abuse victims who were too afraid to step forward. She says the courage of the gymnasts will help create even more of a ripple effect.
“The most important message is, it’s not your fault. You did not ask that it happen to you,” said Amar.
Amar has scheduled a Me Too "Chain," a rally in which supporters will interlock hands to form a human chain. The event will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the water fountain in Balboa Park, near the Rueben H. Fleet Theater.
Meanwhile, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, a nationally recognized expert on sex crimes and human trafficking says now is the time for parents to talk to their children about the subject.
"As a parent, your kids need to know that when they report to you, that you are going to listen to them and you’re going to stand by them. But it has to start with you having that direct conversation,” said Stephan.
Stephan said there needs to be a shift in focus from "stranger danger" to the idea that 80 to 90 percent of sexual abuse is being committed by people the victims know and trust.
"We need to tell our young people that the real threat to them might not be the stranger jumping out of the bushes, but it’s much more likely to be somebody in their trusted circle," Stephan said.