Child abuse forum tackles tough topic head on

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Gather them together and talk about a sensitive issue. Child abuse.

More than a dozen people took time out of their schedule Tuesday afternoon to hear a panel of specialists in the field.

The forum was put on by the Child Protection Coalition.

Kristine Bridges with the Coalition said it was a time to educate and to prepare people to see what was before perhaps unseen.

"Take a look at children, not only in their own daily lives but maybe other children they come into contact with," said Bridges.

The signs of abuse and the silent cries for help.

"We're just looking for people to open their eyes to these issues and to look around them in their own communities," said Bridges.

The audience was ready and willing to listen in hopes of learning how to make a difference and to lend a hand to those in need.

Including a woman who already has. Virginia Lewis made headlines when she told her story of sexual abuse by her father.

Her story has since traveled the world, and her once hidden life is now an open book.

"I've been overwhelmed with the messages of love and support," said Lewis. "I've also heard from dozens of survivors since I went public with my story."

Lewis said forums like this one fight the battle with education, one of the strongest weapons against child abuse.

"Ignorance is dangerous, because one out of four girls, one out of six boys will be sexually abused," said Lewis. "And there are 42 million child sexual abuse survivors out there."

Lewis said she's starting a support group in the Tulsa area sometime in May. To learn more about her story, or the support group, head to her website at

To learn more about the Child Protection Coalition, you can find their website here.

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