There is a painting that hangs in my office of a lighthouse in the midst of a raging storm at sea. I often look at that lighthouse and contemplate what it would be like to be helpless on a wind-tossed sea in the dark of night, looking for a safe harbor. In the darkness, a lighthouse stands tall and firm on the rock, providing light, hope, and a path through the storm.

I always think of that painting when meeting with victims of sexual crimes, particularly when the victim is a child. Through no fault of their own, these innocent victims find themselves like a ship, caught in a violent storm and wondering how they can find peace and safety in their lives again. In our community, Bear Lake County MDT is like a lighthouse, providing hope to victims of sexual crimes and a way for them to get through the storm and find safety.

The healing process can be daunting, and MDT is a group of advocates, counselors, law enforcement personnel and others that stand ready, willing and able to help with the healing process. MDT works as a team to marshal all available resources to help victims. MDT operates on the principle that by working together, people can change lives and solve problems. Medical personnel, counselors, and social workers help treat wounds of sexual abuse, both physical and emotional. Through MDT, members of law enforcement coordinate efforts to find and prosecute the offenders.

One of the most difficult things about sexual abuse cases, particularly involving children, is that so often they go unreported because victims are afraid. They feel they do not have anyone they can talk to or confide in, or that no one will believe them. Victims remain silent because they simply don’t feel like they have any other alternative. As a community, we can help support those in need by becoming educated in ways we can help those who have been abused and protect those we love from becoming victims.

No person that is a victim of a sexual crime should ever feel that they are alone. With MDT, they have people in their corner supporting them. To any person that is a victim of sexual crime, talk to a counselor, talk to law enforcement. They are there to listen and can help begin the process of finding healing and justice.

Join the MDT tomorrow night, Thursday, September 19, 2019, at 7 p.m. in the Oregon Trail Center Theater for a free event featuring Deondra Brown, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Deondra will be speaking about surviving childhood sexual abuse and educating, supporting, and protecting victims and survivors. Deondra performs as a member of the piano ensemble group, the 5 Browns. She has released six albums, several of which have topped the Billboard Classical charts for many weeks. The 5 Browns’ seventh album is set for release in late 2019. She has appeared on the Tonight Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, the Today Show, as well as in the New York Times, People, and Entertainment Weekly. Deondra and her sister, Desirae, formed the Foundation for Survivors of Abuse (FSA) to help educate the public on the overwhelming problem of sexual abuse. They work to ensure that survivors across the country are supported and protected under the law.

Please join us September 19, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Oregon Trail Center Theater for this free event.