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Therapist: Sex abuse survivors can find strength sharing stories

Therapist Bruce Conn said that sex abuse victims may have been encouraged to share their stories after hearing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday./MGN Online

MACON, Ga. -- A national advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse reported that, during Brett Kavanaugh's sexual assault allegation hearings on Thursday, 201 percent more people called the National Sexual Assault Hotline than on average.

When it comes to reporting sexual abuse, Dottie Stafford with the Crisis Line and Safe House in Macon said that the numbers tell their own story.

"Two out of three sexual assaults will go unreported for a variety of reasons," she said.

Social media shows some explanations. People posted #WhyDidn'tIReport, telling stories of guilt and shame.

Those are the emotions licensed marriage and family therapist Bruce Conn, from Coliseum Medical Centers, said can keep people quiet for years.

"The issue about sexual trauma is, it's so objectifying," he said. "You feel alone. You feel disconnected even from your own body."

If someone else speaks out, he said that it can encourage other people to join in.

"When you find somebody that you can connect to, that you can say 'Me too,' then you're not alone anymore," Conn said. "So it makes it an opportunity for people to join and be able to come out of the shadows with it."

Conn said that's what could be happening with Christine Blasey Ford's testimony.

"To see somebody saying what you're feeling gives people an opportunity to say what they're feeling," Conn said.

He said that communities could be forming with these online confessions.

"Sometimes if you share something with a friend or family member they'll say, 'don't feel that way, you're better than that,'" Conn said. "But if you can find somebody that you identify with or relate to, that's where you feel joined and supported and understood."

If you've experienced sexual abuse and need someone to talk to, you can call the sexual assault hotline. It's free and confidential. That number is 800-656-HOPE.

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