Recently we were visiting my uncle in Florida. His wife asked how the book was coming along, which led to a conversation about my past. My uncle, my father’s brother, explicitly expressed what he would have done to his brother had he known he was abusing me. It sounds like something any relative would say but for me the thought sparks a fire. If only someone knew. If only I had told.
I never dwell on the what-ifsin relation to my past. My journey to healing has made me a better person and brought me gifts in the form of relationships, insights, faith and love. I am blessed with the life I have. My what-ifs are: what if we could do something to prevent child sexual abuse; what if children weren’t afraid to tell that they were uncomfortable with an adult; what if an abused child knew they could go to another adult and be protected; what if adults knew the signs to look for in children and abusers.
Those what ifs can be realized. It is within our power to prevent children from being sexually abused. Education is the key! One way to educate adults is through programs like Stop It Now! that offer educational materials and a helpline on their website www.StopItNow.com. My presentations on preventing child sexual abuse incorporate the materials from Stop It Now! along with my personal experience.
Erin Merryn, author and initiator of Erin’s Law is working round the clock to get legislation passed in all 50 states that addresses educating children about sexual abuse. We teach children about fire safety, bullying, saying no to drugs and alcohol and stranger danger. Statistics prove that more than 90 percent of abusers are someone the child knows and trusts. We do not teach children what to do in these situations. Erin’s Law will change that by giving children the knowledge and vocabulary they need to tell an adult and get the protection they so deserve.
The law has been passed in five states and proposed in several others. Whatever state you live in, I urge you to contact your state senator and ask them to look into Erin’s Law. Let’s not keep asking “What could I have done?” AFTER a child has been abused. Let’s do something now to PREVENT child sexual abuse. A phone call, email or letter to your state senator could be the catalyst to protecting children in your very own neighborhood and perhaps in your own home.
Together we can prevent child sexual abuse. Education is the key! Please do your part to turn the what ifs into a reality for children. Roberta