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Billboard Prompts Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse To Come Forward, Decades Later

A billboard, at right, on Route 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, was paid for by the mother of a man who says he was sexually abused decades ago in a now-closed elementary school in Sheffield. This one went up in February. Photo by Nancy Eve Cohen for NEPR

A billboard, at right, on Route 7 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, was paid for by the mother of a man who says he was sexually abused decades ago in a now-closed elementary school in Sheffield. This one went up in February. Photo by Nancy Eve Cohen for NEPR

The mother of a man who says he was sexually abused as a child in a Berkshire County elementary school paid for two billboards this winter to call attention to the case.

The mother’s goal is to bring her son’s alleged abuser to justice. But the billboards have had another impact: helping adults who were sexually abused as children feel less alone.

The son, who attended the Sheffield Center School in the 1970s, pushed a memory of being sexually abused there as far from his thoughts as he could, throughout his childhood and beyond. NEPR is not naming the man, at his request, because he wants his identity protected.

By the time the man reached his mid-40s, nightmares — which had always plagued him — got worse. He said he felt like he was in an icy river being electrocuted.

Visit New England Public Radio for the full story.