Jack Schriber’s recent admission to sexually abusing a student when he was an EVSC teacher in the 70’s is still causing ripples across the Tri-State.
Schriber was a prominent community leader, and many in the Tri-State worked with him, trusted him, respected him. Reaction ran the gamut of disbelief, to disgust, to disregard.
But as Eyewitness News Shelley Kirk reports, for one group, it will never be that easy.
The sign says “Holly’s House,” but this is the house that Kathy built – literally
“I did this, and that, broke up the side walk, hung lights, ran wiring,” said Kathy Boyd, board chair at Holly’s House.
Back in 2007, when Kathy Boyd heard her electricians union was looking for volunteers to renovate this building into a haven for victims of sex crimes, she knew she had to be part of it; because, she was one.
Kathy won’t talk about it on camera, but when she was a child, she was a victim of sexual abuse. It still haunts her.
“Not something that goes away. It lessens, and it’s not an everyday thought, but something happens throughout the course of your life, and it may just be one event and all sudden you get these feelings. Shame, guilt, or distrust, you really don’t know where to share with that.”
It took years before she would tell anyone. Something experts say is more common that we realize.
”There are many, many adults – countless in fact – that have never spoken about it. That’s normal, very normal,” said Sidney Hardgrave, executive director at Holly’s House.
Experts say 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18. 60% of them never tell anyone.
At Holly’s House, about 400 children reported a sex crime in a year. That means there are 600 children every year walking around the Tri-State who are victims we will never know about.
“I’ve had people say, this happened so long ago, I wish I had an answer to that because it doesn’t change anything,” Kathy tells us, “There are some things that are unforgiveable.”
“Not like a scratch, salve won’t help,” Sidney says, “This is not a physical act, an emotional act.”
Boyd often speaks to groups about child sexual abuse. She spoke of one talk before a women’s auxillary; everyone there was over 55 years old –
“After talking over, half came up and said same thing happened to me. Nobody ever talked about it back then. We just didn’t talk about those things.”
And for some sex crimes like the Schriber case, if enough time passes, the offender can’t be charged – even if he admits to it.
“We take sex assault on a child and we wait from 70’s to 2015 – 40 years – statute of limitations ran out. There is something wrong with that,” Kathy said.
She fears that contributes to a victim’s silence. But boyd – turning from victim, to advocate, to warrior – says, while it’s not always about the offender, it is always about the victim.
Holly’s House is here for them, whenever they choose to talk. She says it’s never too late to seek help –
“It may be just going and having a conversation will change it. Even if they don’t want to report it. Maybe they’ll know they are not alone. Forgiveness is for you. Make my heart not so heavy. Make me a little bit more open to the sunlight of the spirit that I can actually open my heart up to people and do good in world.”
If you are a victim, or if you know someone who is a victim of child sexual abuse, you can visit Holly’s House website by clicking here.