WEST JORDAN, Utah — A multi-million dollar campaign called “SHINE” aims to shed light on child abuse survivors during a critical time.
Abuse is believed to be on the rise during COVID-19 social distancing despite a drop in overall reports.
Grammy-winning Deondra Brown was 11-years-old when the abuse started. It went on for five years.
“It was my father,” said Brown in a SHINE promotional video.
Brown and two others are telling their story in a large-scale campaign called SHINE.
While the initiative is national, the Utah Attorney General’s office is boosting the local campaign to become the latest in the country.
“I came from a difficult childhood, yes,” said Brown. “What’s almost more important than that is what I continue to do moving forward.”
Brown joins two other ambassadors featured in the campaign, offering support to survivors and reducing the stigma. It will be featured online, on television and on billboards.
“We want others to understand that they are not alone, that they are not broken, they don’t need to feel ashamed. These things were done to them but it doesn’t have to define the rest of their life,” Brown said.
The campaign launches at a dangerous time for children. Reports of child abuse are down 40% over last April, according to Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes, who warns the decrease is deceiving.
“While the numbers have gone down and people might be lead to believe that there is less child abuse, we believe not only is there at least as much child abuse, there is probably more when children are confined,” Reyes said.
In addition to physical abuse, his office received about 40 referrals a day regarding online abuse last month. The average before the pandemic was just four.
“Things are really not okay at home,” Reyes said.
The campaign pushes people to resources that will help children currently experiencing abuse and even adult survivors.
“There are people out there that will hear them and believe them,” Brown said.