(This is the first in a series of stories based on this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County and the realities facing today's generation.)

February 20--  This year's Teen Maze included a class hosted by The Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter in Toombs County and testimony from a young lady who for years was sexually molested by a family member.

"My stepfather sexually assaulted me for the majority of my life.  For a long time I didn't realize it was something wrong.  I thought that was just how Dad's were. As I got older I realized it wasn't normal and that something was going on.  One day it just kind of slipped out and now I'm here.  It's been almost five years since I told.  I went to the Sunshine House for two years and I'm still struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression and anxiety, but every day it gets a little easier," she said.

The young victim told the 8th graders she addressed at the Teen Maze that if someone similar happened to them, "Talk to somebody who is close to them whether it's their parents or teacher or friend and understand they are not alone.  There are people out there going through the same thing. I continue to tell my story because I needed that support and I know there are others who are struggling with it, whether they've told or not, and they need to know there is help."

mazerefugeSusan Wortman (left) is a Children's Advocate at "The Refuge, "We see that a lot unfortunately and there could be somebody in the midst of that who may need that assistance and encouragement to come up out of what they are in."

She also encouraged girls in the class to recognize and avoid unhealthy relationships with boys, "We encourage them and show them what the red flags look like and how to break up safely.  They also need to know what healthy dating relationships look like, too," she said.