Reflecting on the Importance of Prevention

 This past week I was invited back to be a keynote speaker at one of the children's advocacy centers in Oregon. I can still reflect on the speech I gave 3 years ago. I had just moved with my family to Oregon and was honored to participate in such an important fundraiser.

 When I spoke at the event 3 years ago, they were raising funds to expand their center and asked me to tailor my message to help their supporters understand the impact of trauma on children and how important it is to have services like CAC's in their community. The event was successful! They had over 700 people join us for lunch to hear about Liberty House's impressive goal to not only continue to provide services to children that have been abused but to continue adding healing services for adults as well. But the focus of this fundraiser was to emphasize the importance of prevention.  
 
They asked me to share my experience from over 14 years of educating adults about how to keep kids safe from CSA. Part of that journey includes moving my family to Iceland to start a nonprofit and getting the backing to send an informational booklet into every single home in the country, all about child sexual abuse statistics and prevention. I was about 10 years into my healing at the time and was realizing how important talking about abuse was. I was so sure that if the adults around me had known what to do, they would have. If someone told good people what to say and where to go, good people would do the right thing, right?
 
Sending out that booklet was just the beginning. I started getting calls from people telling me no one was willing to talk about it, even with the booklet in their hands. They had never seen or heard anyone speak openly and directly about such an uncomfortable topic. They were still scared to approach it.
 
So I learned that it isn't good enough to just put the information into the hands of good people. They can't do the right thing if they are afraid or if they don't have anyone to walk them through how to use the words, to model the steps of how to start to talking about CSA, or what questions to ask your child's school, church, sports club, etc.
 
I am bringing this up now because of all the media attentioaround Judge Brett Kavanaugh's and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, wondering why she didn't tell for so many years. Well, it is for the same reason that you are not talking about child sexual abuse now with anyone. You worry what people will think of you!
 
Before I spoke at the luncheon this week, the executive director reminded the 700 people in the room of the recently updated facts. In the state of Oregon, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before they turn 18. She also shared the national statistics list that children will disclose 7 TIMES before they are believed. Clearly, the problem isn't that our kids or survivors are not disclosing or asking for help. The problem is that most of us are not prepared to handle the disclosures because of our discomfort with the issues and we don't know how respond!
 
So if you want to be a part of the solution and help create a new culture of acceptance, let me leave you with some positive action you can take, where to go and what you can do to make a difference in your life, in your children's lives, and in your community. You have no idea how many lives you could save just by taking the following steps:
 
1. Attend a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children training. They have trainings all over the country. If you cannot find a local trainer, you can do the class online and I invite you to perhaps become a facilitator in your community. To learn more, go here: https://www.d2l.org/education/get-trained-today/
 
2. Reach out to your local Children's Advocacy Center and offer to volunteer or donate to help them.
 
3. Tell your school, club, church, PTA, etc. about Stewards of Children. And ask your school, club, or church the following questions:
- How do you train your staff in child sexual abuse prevention?
- What is your one-on-one policy with children?
- What is your reporting procedure for suspicion of abuse within the organization?
- How do you monitor your staff?
- What is your policy for staff contacting kids outside the program?
- How do you empower the children to report if they experience abuse at school by another child or staff member?
- Do your classrooms or closed teaching spaces have windows in the doors/walls?
 
I want to empower you to take courageous action. In order to heal, survivors have to take countless steps that they have not taken before that are scary and hard. I ask you, please be a part of the solution and get educated. You are helping stopping the cycle of silence and denial when you do. 
 
Prevention IS the answer. It is too late for too many survivors but there are millions of children that will benefit from all of us doing what we can, now. 
 
I ended my speech last week by reminding every person in the room, that we are all connected. And that when one of us is hurting, we are all hurting. It serves all of us to create this important change in how we understand the issue of child abuse and why kids or adults don't disclose after abuse. 
 
It only takes one voice to make a big difference. It took me being willing to move my family to Iceland to get people educated. I had no idea if it was going to work. But it did. Reporting started going up and over 10 years, 10% of the Icelandic population were educated. Just imagine what a difference you can make in your own community!
 
I can't wait to hear about it. And if you need ideas, just let me know. I'm always happy to help!
 

Ready to change? Are you stuck? Don’t worry. I can help! Just follow (this link) or call 619-889-6366 to reserve a one-hour coaching session with me ($125). Let me help you with the next step to heal your life. You deserve it! Reserve your spot NOW! 

Are you looking for more support? I have created a closed Facebook group for the readers of “Releasing Your Authentic Self."  If you are ready to dig deep, and want to experience the daily support, encouragement from others like you. Follow this link to learn moreReleasing Your Authentic Self Support Group.

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