The healing effort in an unprecedented abuse case

    In addition to the criminal case against accused serial child molester Earl Bradley, there’s a focus on helping the victims and the families.

    That special trust between doctor, patient, and parent has been broken in Lewes.

    This week a grand jury in Sussex County handed up an unprecedented indictment against Earl Bradley.  The pediatrician was indicted on 471 criminal counts for allegations of sexually assaulting and raping more than 100 of his young patients.

    But in addition to the criminal case, there is a focus on helping those families.

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    That’s the mission of SOAR, Survivors of Abuse in Recovery.  It is the go-to agency in Delaware for therapy and counseling for victims of sexual abuse.
    “It’s really important to realize this is a crime that has victimized all of us, it has victimized our entire community,” SOAR’S Executive Director Valerie Marek said.

    Given the scope of the Bradley case, SOAR’s resources are now stretched.  Its 35 therapists are taking on more cases, more sessions non-profit SOAR must pay for.  SOAR has added an office in Newark, and moved to an office with more space in Lewes in an effort to meet the new and sudden demands for its services.  Their intake calls have doubled.
    “When you’re dealing with victims who are very young you’re not just taking in one person for therapy services, you’re working with their whole extended family,” Marek said.

    “My heart goes out to those people who had to look at photos for countless hours and try to identify victims and notify their families,” Marek said.  “In many ways, people have been vicariously traumatized, and I have a lot of compassion for parents in particular.”

    The help SOAR offers is something a 54 year old woman we’ll call “Marie” wishes she had as a child.  She came to SOAR just a few years ago.
    “When I was 8 years old through the age of 11, I was sexually abused by a family member,” Marie said.  “Unfortunately at that time there was no resources or help available, and I kept everything inside.”

    Marie hopes parents will seek services for their children, and themselves, now.  So they don’t shelve the effects of abuse into adulthood the way she did.

    “It’s not the parent’s fault or the children’s fault no matter how old they were,” Marie said.  “There’s a sense of community out there and you’ll need to rely on others, don’t lose your hope,”

    Marek says the Bradley case has also had an indirect impact on SOAR’s workload. She says sometimes when a sexual abuse case makes headlines, it encourages people to come forward even if their abuse occurred years ago.

    SOAR’s fundraiser this year is now more important than ever.  On the evening of April 23 the organization is hosting an “Age of Aquarius” night at Wilmington’s Blue Ball Barn Museum with casino games, dinner, and an auction.

    For more on this story watch WHYY’s “First” Friday at 5:30.

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