Forward by Editor, Kirsteen McLay-Knopp
Erin Merryn’s name is becoming very well known in the USA. She has courageously spoken up about a childhood filled with sexual abuse and is now passionate about advocating for “Erin’s Law”, a law making sexual abuse prevention education compulsory in schools, at all levels in the United States. We at the Forever Years believe that such laws should exist not only in America, but around the globe– and Erin also believes this. Share this and spread the word, we can empower our kids and prevent abuse.
What is “Erin’s Law” and how will it protect our children? By Erin Merryn
It wasn’t to be named Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year 2012.
It wasn’t to be named a Heroes Among Us in April 2013 by People Magazine and named one of fifteen woman changing the world by People Magazine in June 2014
It wasn’t to receive the Wendell Jones Award, Henry C. Lee award, CAC Presidents award, Friends of Children award, 2 Champion of Children awards, and the Service Above Self award.
It wasn’t to get fifteen seconds of fame on Oprah or being named one of ten people that changed actress Julianna Margulie’s life.
It doesn’t have to do with the fact that I wrote a book “An Unimaginable Act” and said in that book Erin’s Law will be passed in all 50 states and I have to accomplish what I said I would do.
It has nothing to do with the recognition.
What motivates me is what people can’t see, the unimaginable acts I suffered. Years of abuse that I want no child to ever experience and if they experience it they know to report it immediately, that they will be believed. Had I been taught what my law does as that little kindergartner I likely would have reported what my neighbor did at my first overnight with my best friend. Instead I stayed silent just like he threatened me to. While that was a frightening experience it was nothing compared to what would come a year later when I was just a first grader finding myself locked in a bedroom with this grown man raping me.
Crying and begging him to stop. Stopping was the last thing on his mind and when I refused to do what he told me to do to him he began sodomizing. I thought I was going to die that day. He is the epitome of evil. Evil he continued to show me until I was 8 ½. So many opportunities for someone to educate me to speak up and tell but instead my only education came from telling me to stay silent or he would come get me.
The only education I was getting in school was an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in place to educate me on how to properly handle all my anger. All these goals in place to deal with my behavior problems when in reality the schools were not getting to the root of the problem and understanding why I was so angry. I went as far as to put my hand through a window just weeks after being raped because of a flashback of being raped. All triggered by my sister pulling off my shoes the same was this man had. It was all brushed off that I was going through a phase I would grow out of.
It took moving to never be abused by this man again. Little did I know by moving I was getting that much closer to the next abuser in my life.
From the ages of 11, 12, 13 my older cousin sexually abused me. Once again I was being threatened to stay silent that no one would believe me, and I would destroy our close knit family if I told. I stayed silent because my only education only ever came from my abusers. I would spend the next two years being locked in bedrooms, bathrooms, basements, closets, crawl spaces, garages, cars, ….if he had the opportunity to abuse me he would and it didn’t matter where we were even pinning me down on his bed while his two younger brothers sit playing Nintendo just feet from us. He knew he had my voice. I wasn’t telling and he wasn’t getting caught. The last time he ever abused me was the worst. While babysitting his two younger brothers who lay fast asleep in their beds he came home and chased me through his house. Eventually getting me behind closed doors and for the next 2 ½ hours assault me. I can still remember what he was whispering in my ears and the last words he said to me when he finally stopped. “This is our secret. No one will believe you.”
Anybody who knows my story knows why the abuse ended. My little sister broke her silence to me that he was abusing her. It put an end to our nightmare and began the path to reclaiming my voice to where I am today making sure every child in America and around the world has been educated on how to use their voice through Erin’s Law.
My motivation is for the children. So that no other child will suffer years of abuse the way I did. I said it 5 years ago when I went after Erin’s Law, if this law can save one child by giving them a voice to break their silence it is worth all my efforts traveling across America and testifying to lawmakers to pass it. Results are coming in. A police department has had a disclosure from a 12 year old abused for 4 years by a family member and when being interviewed asked why she is telling now she said, “We learned Erin’s Law in school.” Several teachers have now contacted me telling me a student of theirs disclosed after being taught Erin’s Law, and even a mother who taught her daughter about personal body safety for years didn’t come forward until she was taught Erin’s Law in school and finally knew it was safe to tell.
No matter how many years go by my past is still there. The memories don’t disappear with time. The pain is unforgettable. I spent 6 ½ years of my life being raped and abused and another 10 years of my life from 13-23 suffering from PTSD. The constant nightmares and flashbacks took me down a path of destruction. Attempting suicide as a 16 year old seemed like my only way to end the pain. Eventually turning to self-injury and taking razors to my wrists for 2 years to numb the pain. Wanting control in my life that I didn’t have as a child I found myself looking for control through my body image when I got to college and quickly fell into anorexia for the next 4 years.
I am motivated by the memories of my own childhood to make sure every child is educated on personal body safety so they don’t suffer in silence for years. Erin’s Law is currently passed in 23 states and pending in 20. I will not stop fighting for children to have a voice until they all have one. I will pound on legislator’s doors until they answer and do the right thing by passing Erin’s Law for all public schools to teach personal body safety. These two men lost at keeping me silent instead they have discovered they messed with the wrong girl and they are now the ones in silence.
I can’t change the past so instead of focusing there I am focusing on what I can change….the future. Children are waiting.
Educate others unaware of Erin’s Law
In this thought-provoking book, readers will discover an in-depth, personal account of Erin’s story and how―through using positive outlets―she was able to rebuild her life and heal from a childhood filled with sexual abuse. Part memoir, part resource guide, Erin shares with readers key organizations that provide essential support for victims and caregivers, warning signs that a child who is being abused might display, and why Erin’s Law is so essential.