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Abuse survivor invites runners, walkers to ‘Stomp the silence’

Katya Estes’ 5k will reveal ‘invisible crime,’ raise awareness for Family & Children’s Place

7485782_GLOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 17, 2015) – Katya Estes is out to “stomp the silence” about child abuse. A survivor herself – she went public last year about abuse by her grandfather – Estes is hosting a 5k run/walk to support Family & Children’s Place, which she credits for helping her heal.

“This is a subject people don’t want to talk about, to acknowledge,” said Estes. “So how is it going to get fixed if we don’t help people understand what’s going on in their city, in their own neighborhoods?

“What happened to me isn’t an anomaly.”

The 5k run/walk, “Stomp the silence: Taking steps toward healing,” is Saturday, April 18, at the Seneca Park Loop. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with the run/walk kicking off at 9 a.m. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the walk comes five years to the day after her abuser’s sentencing hearing.

Despite his conviction for sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 12, the court sentenced the man responsible for the abuse only to probation. Last year, Estes accused him of violating his probation, went public and demanded he be prosecuted and imprisoned. He received a 60-day sentence in county jail, but was released early.

“Child abuse, especially child sexual abuse is still essentially an invisible crime,” says Estes. “We can’t let it stay that way. We have to expose it, push it into the public and make everyone see the threat, the damage and the cost – to the community, the family and the victim.”

Today, one in 10 boys and girls will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. In 2012 in Jefferson County, 319 children were victims of substantiated physical abuse, nearly 100 of them victims of substantiated sexual abuse.

Estes’ goal is to help people – parents, teachers, kids – understand what to look and listen for – to “tune in and be aware,” she said. It’s also to help her continue to heal – Estes has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and continues to receive treatment – and to raise funds for Family & Children’s Place, which protects children from violence, abuse and neglect, and helps child victims and families heal.

“There is no putting the abuse behind me,” said Estes. “The impact and effects are lifelong, for me, my family and friends, so it’s reassuring and comforting to know there is a Family & Children’s Place, and that there are professionals who have chosen to help child survivors and their families as their life’s work,” said Estes.

Family & Children’s Place will have a table at the walk, providing information to participants and others about its work to end and heal abuse, violence and neglect.

Estes’ mother, Eileen Estes, assistant professor in the department of educational and counseling psychology and director of art therapy at the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development, is helping her daughter with the walk.

“Abuse is a real issue, and it’s more than predator and victim. Today it’s Internet porn, where predators troll to find and groom victims. It’s human trafficking. We have to connect, and as a community, as a people, end this.

“It’s emotionally debilitating when you learn that someone you love has been preyed upon, victimized and abused. This has to end – now!”

Katya Estes is excited about the race, which she sees as a great way for people to “walk with purpose” – to end child abuse, to raise money for an organization that does critical work with children, and get ready for the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and Marathon, which come a week later.

“It’s a great prep event for anyone signed up for these events,” she said.

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Family & Children’s Place protects Kentuckiana children, families and communities from abuse, neglect and exploitation, and helps move them from hurting to healing.  We serve nearly 5,000 children and families annually through trauma-informed and impact-evident services.  For more information about Family and Children’s Place, visit www.famchildplace.org or call 502-893-3900.

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