I am happy to announce that I’ve partnered with Safe & Sound Child Advocacy Center on their 5k Superhero Fun Run & Walk! Safe & Sound is a child protection and advocacy center that provides services, education, and support for child sexual abuse (CSA) victims and their families, including the facilitation of forensic interviews with law enforcement. They do far more than what I’ve listed, so make sure to check out their website to learn more.
As a CSA survivor, their work is something that deeply resonates.
“Our mission is clear—to prevent child abuse and neglect and improve the quality of life for children and families.” – Safe & Sound Child Advocacy Center
I became the focus of a forensic interview and criminal investigation in 1981. When I was six years old, I was called to testify against, and face in court, a man in my neighborhood who attempted to lure me into his apartment. He was naked during his attempt, which is where the criminal element came in. I am thankful that I ran away and was not harmed. He later raped a woman three doors down in the middle of the night.
It was terrifying to sit alone on the witness stand at such a young age and face my almost abductor. His family was there, their eyes burning with hatred. The judge was my ally, and a friend of my elementary school principal. He made sure to tell me that he would always protect Mr. Vince’s kids. He reminded me of a nice grandpa, but that didn’t soothe my fear.
As I cried on the witness stand, the judge stopped proceedings and allowed my dad to join me. He placed me on his lap and I rested my back against his broad chest. I felt immediately safe and protected. It made things easier as I was asked to point at my neighbor. His dark, menacing eyes focused on mine, his body taut and ready to strike; he tried to intimidate me.
Even at six I had a fire inside me. I drew strength in knowing that what he did was wrong, and it was my job, my duty, to protect other little girls from a worse fate. I faced him, and did what needed to be done. He was found guilty and was incarcerated.
He was released when I was a teenager, which sparked a debilitating anxiety that I can’t articulate. I was afraid of going to the store, public library, or walking outside. I felt vulnerable and was convinced he’d seek retribution for my damming testimony that put him behind bars.
To my relief, he died in a mysterious single vehicle crash in the middle of the night. I don’t know whether it was karma, fate, or simple human error, but I was thankful for his demise. Maybe that sounds harsh and unforgiving, but I like to believe that his soul was as tortured as mine.. He was a predator, and that leads me to believe his mind was irreparably fractured. Maybe death was his release from that. His death was a release from my terror; I was reborn as a result of his death.
While this man was not the first person to chip away at my innocence, he was the most threatening. I believe he would have raped me or worse that day. By the grace of God, I was spared from whatever he had planned.
I have blocked out much of the chaos surrounding the case, but I know the importance of having advocates who protect child victims. That’s my “why” in relation to supporting Safe & Sound Child Advocacy Center.
If you are in Midland on Saturday, May 6, 2017, and would like to “Walk With An Author” to support this worthy organization and the work they do for children and families, I welcome you to join me (see details at the end of this post)!
I am dressing up as my favorite superhero – The Girl on the Right. Her superpower is reaching beyond surviving to thriving; she is not a victim, although she’s been victimized. That is my book’s message, and a pretty damn powerful one at that! She wears a pink tutu, glittery shoes, and has a cape.
Nothing would make this Thriver happier than being one in a sea of pink tutus as we walk together to support our community’s most precious and vulnerable citizens – our children.