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Words of wisdom: an abuse survivor's warning to parents

Posted at 9:33 PM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 23:22:19-05

TULSA, Okla. — Katelyn Villa wants to make others aware that danger to their children can live next door, or even under the same roof. She knows, because she's lived with her own attacker before.

It's been 10 years since Villa was sexually abused by someone within her family, who gets out of prison Dec. 20. Now, she wants to make sure parents won't overlook something similar that could be happening to their own child.

Villa grew up all over green country, eventually finding herself living with her aunt and uncle. That's who found out what was happening to her.

"My aunt and uncle were looking into all our kids' email addresses," Villa said. "It was basically... this person telling me that if I told anyone what happened, he was going to kill myself and my family."

Katelyn says the attacker was a trusted family member to begin with. He was the uncle of the aunt she was living with. First, he earned her trust.

"To me it came across that this person was comforting me," Villa said. "I felt I didn't have anyone else to go to, and this person very much made me feel like they were who I could go to and who I could count on."

She was 14 years old at the time. It took six months before her attacker made his move.

"I was molested, and I was raped, by a man who was 42 years old," Villa said. "He had talked about having children with me. Down to names. I had more than one pregnancy scare when I was 14."

Villa says it would happen every day over the course of a year. She stayed quiet because he threatened her if she did otherwise. It all happened right under her family's noses.

When her aunt and uncle read the threatening message in her email, Villa told them what was happening.

She says her attacker was tried and convicted, and since then, she's been getting stronger, and spreading her message.

"Young girls and parents need to know that these types of predators are out there. And they're not going to look like these crazy monsters. They're going to look like people you know," Villa said. "Your kids' behavior and their actions, you will notice differences, there are things that will not be the same, and you have to know your kid."

A leading child psychologist in Tulsa says sudden, spiking changes in behavior can be a sign of abuse, even when a child is going through puberty. She says dropping grades can be a good indicator.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has a full list of the effects abuse has on kids of different ages, and is a reliable source for parents who need somewhere to turn for advice.

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