Sexual assault advocate gets national recognition

By Amritha Alladi
Pacific Daily News
April 28, 2010


A leader in sexual assault and family violence prevention was recognized by a national organization for her work on Guam yesterday.


Dr. Ellen P. Bez, the founder and Board president of the Guam Sexual Assault and Abuse Resource Center Association received the Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) for 2010 yesterday.


The national organization recognizes individuals throughout the nation for their exemplary work in the area of sexual violence prevention, a press release from the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence stated.


"I'm grateful," Bez said at a Coalition workshop yesterday after receiving the award. "But I do think it represents all the hard work we do. It's not just one person."


Bez had been nominated by the Coalition, according to the release.


The Coalition is composed of a group of nonprofit organizations, government partners and community members. It was established in 2006 to stop sexual assault and family violence.


As an internist with a private practice on the island, Bez said her heart is truly in her work at the Healing Hearts Crisis Center, Guam's only rape crisis center. She's worked there for 12 years, according to the Coalition.


"The hardest part of this is seeing the consequences it has to the growth and development of a child," Bez said yesterday.


She said minors are the victims in just over 80 percent of sexual assault cases.


Bez, originally from Washington, D.C., said she's noticed some factors unique to Guam that sometimes lead to situations that may put children in vulnerable situations.


For example, the way large families live in communal settings with relatives and friends stopping by frequently sometimes creates potential for unwelcome interaction.


As a preventive measure, she said, parents should advise their kids on good touching and bad touching, and to use the actual terms for body parts that shouldn't be inappropriately touched.


During the Coalition's workshop yesterday, members also addressed the need to educate communities who migrate to Guam from other Micronesian islands.


That's why the Coalition is seeking leaders in those communities to work with, said Rosemarie Camacho, an individual, marriage and family therapist. Having a member of that community who speaks that language and is respected by that community will help, she said.


(To read original article, visit this Guamnpdn link.)

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