Too often abuse is a silent crime.
Victims not ready or willing to come forward.
To shine a light on such violence takes courage.
Courageous people who are being celebrated by the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office.
Almost three years ago Xander Perry stood on the stand and told a jury his story of abuse.
That’s impressive enough until you find out he was just 10 years old at the time.
Friday, The Chatham county Victim’s Witness advocacy staff stood in front of the County Commission honored for their work, and abuse awareness week.
Right up front, one of the smallest advocates, Xander Perry.
“We are talking about stuff that you want to keep private that you don’t want anyone to know about,” explains JJ Haire, Child Abuse Victim’s Advocate. “and to go in front of a room full of strangers and to tell the story and be able to tell it that’s a sense of bravery that’s just unmatchable.”
That “stuff”, admitting he was abused by someone in his own family.
“Sometimes people make you do things even thought i said no,” said Xander Perry.
Xander told a teacher, and then was able to tell a jury.
“I was unbelievably proud that he was able to do something that i don’t think I would have been able to do it myself,” said Leany Wood, Xander’s Father. “To see him do it it made me so proud of my son.”
“It doesn’t matter what size you are or how old you are,” said Rochelle Perry, Xander’s Mom. “If something is being done to you that is not right then you have a voice, you should use it.”
A voice this 13 year old struggles to find as he deals with autism.
But what he lacks in physical strength he makes up for with his mind, and bravery.
“It is so real,” said Haire. “A kid’s testimony is so genuine and from the heart, they cant mess it up they tell what happened, they tell the truth and its very powerful to hear those word from a kid.”
“Wrong is wrong and you have to be able to stand up for that,” said Wood. “I’m very proud that he understands that at such a young age.”
His eyes and his words on a poster designed to draw attention to victims who are willing to speak out and the ones still out there silent.
“You should never be scared with someone you love or share with a teacher if you are being bullied or abused,” said Dakota Perry, Xander’s Sister. “I’m proud of him for getting this and for standing up for himself.”
“What would you tell them?”
“Don’t listen to them,” said Xander. “If someone is bullying you tell the teacher about it.”
“Even if we only help one other child come forward about their abuse, it means the world,” said Leany Wood.
Xander’s testimony led the jury to convict his abuser.
He was forced to register as a sex offender and sentenced to 25 years behind bars.