International athlete Isabella Rositano is taking a stand against child abuse by joining Australia’s leading child protection agency, Bravehearts, as an ambassador. The fighter and songwriter (also known as Emcee Izzy) wants to give a voice to those who feel disempowered and use her platform as an advocate to empower Australian children.
“I believe one of the biggest issues surrounding childhood abuse is the alienation of those directly and indirectly affected by it. It’s something so rarely spoken about, but by simply speaking more about it we will be creating a safer place for our children to grow and thrive as well as decreasing those feelings of isolation rife amongst survivors,” says Izzy.
Child abuse in Australia: The Statistics
There has been an unfortunate increase over the past 5 years of child abuse in Australia. Between the years of 2018-2019, 9 in 1,000 children were either at the risk or were abused by their carers, whereas in the years between 2014 – 2015, it was 8 in 1,000 children. The highest form of abuse is emotional abuse, followed by neglect abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse.
“It’s beyond wrong that at this current time 1 in 5 Australian children will suffer sexual abuse. That statistic needs to change. Supporting Bravehearts and other organisations that work to make Australia safe for children with their work is one of the best things we can all do to bring these numbers down.”
Over 1 billion children aged 2 – 17 years old globally have experienced a form of abuse. This has impacted their lives greatly, including their health and well-being.
“We have to talk about this issue and be a voice for the children until they feel empowered to speak for themselves. This is a global issue.”
Brave hearts making a stand
Protecting children’s rights is a cause close to Isabella’s heart. It’s common amongst survivors not to speak out about abuse and not to seek further help after disclosing. For most, they do what they need to survive. It seems easier for them to put on a brave face, and as a result often no-one around them knows what they have gone through.
“I think it’s absolutely vital for all guardians to know and watch out for the signs of child abuse in order to protect children and just as important for all children to be taught safety skills. I wish I could tell all guardians and their children who have had to face child abuse to stay strong and to speak up. Take action, speak up and follow up. You are not alone. It’s so important for the community to be educated on the signs survivors may display in order to support and prevent survivors’ isolation.”
For one survivor, she went to school the next day with no one the wiser of what she had suffered. She only recently discovered that her guardians never reported the pedophile and only as an adult was she finally able to confront the abuse and the perpetrator.
The role of the police in arresting and charging the abuser cannot be understated. Through the support of a community, she was able to feel empowered enough to take a stand.
For those who have been affected, Bravehearts offers essential guidance and much needed support during difficult situations.
How you can support brave hearts
Isabella will be teaming up as a volunteer with Bravehearts in order to increase awareness and help raise money for the cause. To kick things off she is planning a 50K Ultramarathon and a world record attempt on Boxing day in aid of Bravehearts and the Bush to Beach foundation.
She became aware of the Bush to Beach initiative when she competed in the 2019 Miss World Australia beauty pageant.
The Queensland finalist says, “Beauty with a purpose is the heart behind the pageant. I believe we should always do what we can to support others. When I learnt about the Bush to Beach charity, which supports our bush kids, I knew I wanted to be involved. It is a great cause to support, especially in conjunction with Bravehearts.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to all the brave hearts out there, I am really grateful for every person who dedicates themselves to work in child protection. Services offered by organisations like Bravehearts continue to make our community a safer place. Empowering children with personal safety skills and training adults in child safety are two key ways to educate on the issue and help nurture a child-safe culture. Such programs are accessible through Bravehearts and it would be fantastic to see greater government support to subsidize the cost of these and provide greater access to these educational programs for everyone.”