When A Promise Must Be Broken

by Melissa Brunner

Tuesday's Oprah show featured a story of sexual abuse almost too horrific to believe. Twin sisters from Wichita, now 19, recount years of violent sexual abuse at the hands of their brothers and father. The girls eventually admitted it when confronted by an aunt, who took them to the neighbor across the street who'd befriended them to get help.

That woman was Shelly Vasey. Shelly actually grew up in Topeka. And, it turns out, she's my cousin-in-law. I've thought the world of her and, now, my admiration has grown. The girls also are to be admired for their strength and determination and their willingness to put a face on an issue that is easy to keep behind closed doors.

Shelly and the girls first shared their story with the Wichita Eagle for a series that appeared last December. It's incredibly emotional. Here's the link if you'd like to read it: http://www.kansas.com/promisenottotell/

One key point in the story is this: Shelly struggled with the fact that she's promised the girls she wouldn't tell their secret. It took two days before she and her husband sought counsel from a person at their church and contacted police. Turns out, the girls had been hoping she would do something, even if, as you learn in the articles, they at first denied the abuse to police.

This story illustrates how vital it is that we not be afraid to get involved when we believe someone is at risk. It could be a horrific case, like the twins' abuse, or it could be the stranger peeking in car windows along the street. If something doesn't seem right, ask questions. If we don't step up, who will?


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