Not knowing where to turn and too afraid to speak out, the young girl from Illinois in the United States suffered years of depression after been robbed of her innocence at the age of six by two people.
The first person to abuse Erin was her neighbour, who started when she was six. The abuse lasted for five years. Her cousin began abusing her when she was 11. That ordeal lasted till she was 13.
It wasn’t until she attended a Child Advocacy Centre that she was able to understand it wasn’t her fault.
‘I blamed myself for not speaking up, but I thought no one would believe me,’ she said. ‘At the Child Advocacy Centre the support was in place for not only me, but my entire family.’
Erin found the courage to speak out about the abuse when her younger sister came to her and said the same thing was happening.
‘For six-and-a-half years of my life I didn’t say a word. I was brought to a children’s advocacy centre a few weeks after my sister and I disclosed.
‘They basically laid the foundation of my healing, of reclaiming my voice, of no longer having to stay silent.’
She wrote letters to her perpetrators and was eventually able to forgive them, which helped with the healing process.
Erin, now 29, has gone on to be an author, activist and speaker, using her story to help others.
Four years ago, she resigned from her full-time job working at a youth and counselling agency, to stand up for children and make sure they were not subjected to harm or forced into silence.
She has advocated and campaigned for Erin’s Law ” age appropriate sexual abuse prevention curriculum ” to be taught in schools throughout the US and even internationally.
It has been passed in 19 US states.
‘Children are not just being abused in my home state, in my country of America.
‘Children are being abused around this world,’ she said.
‘It is a silent, global epidemic, as I tell legislators. And I’ve made it my life mission that I’m not going to take this to every state, but every country.
‘Children need to be taught about personal body safety, they need to be empowered to know what is a safe and unsafe touch and be given the tools to stand up and not be silent.’
Erin is also a strong promoter of Child Advocacy Centres and has spoken at centres across the US.
She said everyone needed to be woken up to the good work they do.
‘Without them, children will end up at police departments having to be interviewed instead of these child-friendly centres.’
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