“Society is So Afraid of This Issue….That’s Why I’m Not Going to Shut Up”

I love this girl. She’s awesome.

“Erin Merryn was just six years old when she was sexually abused by a male neighbor. She was too scared to tell anyone. “He kept telling me, ‘No one will believe you,’ ” says Merryn, 28, of Schaumburg, Ill.

The abuse didn’t stop until her family moved when she was 8 ½ years old. Three years later, a second male relative began abusing her. He scared her into silence as well – until her sister came to her with a chilling story of abuse from the same male relative.

“She just blurted it out,” says Merryn. “I thought, ‘Wow. Now I have somebody to back up my story.’ ” The next day they told their parents, who went to the police.”

Those heartbreaking childhood traumas are the inspiration for Erin’s Law, which mandates schools teach sexual abuse awareness and prevention, from kindergarden on up. Six states have so far passed the law and another 12 have introduced or are planning to introduce bills, she says.

“I thought, we’re mandated in the state to do tornado drills,” she says, “and bus drills. I know how to escape from a burning building, though I’ve never had to do that. But I never had the words to tell people what happened in my childhood.'”

Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network RAINN, says Erin’s Law is an important one and Merryn is a powerful messenger for the cause.

“I think teaching kids about sexual abuse is so crucial to preventing it and putting an end to it,” he says. “Erin knows how damaging abuse can be. I think it’s incredible that she’s been able to take that and turn it into something so positive in a way that’s going to help so many people.”

Besides championing Erin’s Law, Merryn travels around the country telling her story to law enforcement and social service workers and has written two books about her experiences Erin Merryn. Along the way, she’s become an inspiration to sexual assault victims like nine-year-old Kealin from Ontario, Canada.

“My daughter found Erin’s website,” says her mother, Lindsay, who did not want their last name used because Kealin’s criminal case is still pending, “then she just started following her on Facebook and her blog. She’s read both of Erin’s books. Erin is definitely one of her heroes.”

Kealin will soon be heading up a local walk to bring awareness about sexual abuse to their community, she says.

“Erin made me want to do something to help kids,” says Kealin. “She’s a voice for the voiceless.”

In April 2010, Merryn quit her job as a family counselor so she could work full-time on getting Erin’s Law passed. She says she’s not going to stop until it’s on the books in all 50 states.

“I want that seven year old who’s being abused tonight to come forward and tell her mother, tell her teacher,” she says. “Society is so afraid of this issue. They want to look the other way. That’s why I’m not going to shut up.”



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14 Responses to “Society is So Afraid of This Issue….That’s Why I’m Not Going to Shut Up”

  1. little nel says:

    I know that children are “sold” into the sex trade at any age in some countries where it is legal to procure a child for sexual purposes. This makes most of us sick with concern for these little ones’ horrible circumstances. For instance, in the Netherlands it is legal to have 8 and 9 year-old children working as prostitutes for their families’ as a source of income.

    Anytime a government protects and endorses this type of commercial sexual abuse of children, we have a dilemma because it is so deplorable to us. The attitude of the government is that it happens, so why not legalize it, monitor it, and tax it like any other income producing activity? They will make it a victimless act by allowing payment for services rendered rather than crowd their courts with complaints from victims.

    It is a way to placate everyone’s screams for justice in the minds of the governing adults and get rid of court cases that are unpopular, lengthy, awkward, and costly.

    We have this same type of “reasoning” taking root here in America. In California, I have seen cases where child sexual abuse has been allowed to be rendered “non-prosecutable” or “decriminalized” and this trend is on the rise. The law enforcement authorities in California have acknowledged this trend to not prosecute many sex crimes involving children. I listened as one law enforcement officer stated that he believes that the Jerry Sandusky case would NOT have made it to trial if it had happened in California.

    Did anyone see Jerry’s recent statements from jail in March? He is in the mass media still trying to “discredit” his accusers and the witnesses’ who saw and heard him. Jerry Sandusky believes that he can obtain his freedom by using this tactic in the public forum to garner supporters.

    Many of us will resist and hold accountable people like Jerry who rape children. Many of us are outraged by child abusers and their crimes.

    I thank the people of Pennsylvania for holding Jerry Sandusky accountable for his crimes and putting him in jail, even though the trial was lengthy, costly, awkward, and embarrassing to Penn State. It gives me a sense of pride that Americans still care about the well being of our children and affirm that child abuse is NOT something that most Americans will accept.

    • Spector says:

      Wait. Is that true, that child prostitution is legal in The Netherlands? I know that adult prostitution is legal, but child? I have never heard or read that.

    • Grace says:

      Hello little nel,

      I am compelled to make a small correction to your post. Children are sold even in countries where it is “legal”…the justice system (even in First World Countries such as the USA) is riddled with corruption. All you have to do is read about child robots, satanic ritual abuse, and mind control and you will find countless stories of children that are bought/sold/and used by government officials.

  2. Reblogged this on Tell About Abuse and commented:
    This and your second blog post are so valuable in raising awareness –

    we should not feel afraid to talk about abuse or preventing it – are we too afraid of being judged by people who are most likely to agree with and support our views?

    • Alethea says:

      I am not afraid of being judged. It’s not fun, but I am not afraid to put myself out there. So for me, it is a matter of thinking that I would get at least one or two shares, and a few comments. When I did not get any comments, no shares, and only two “likes” I thought to myself, “hmm…what the hell does this mean?”

      Do they most likely support our views? I don’t know. I can’t read minds, but not sharing such important information is interesting to me, and it speaks louder than words.

      One might say, “well, you could have shared it without the graphic photo.” Why? Why not try and shock people into reality? No one wants their little shell of denial penetrated, all the while, children are being raped, molested, threatened with death, and abused RIGHT NOW.

      People in this world NEED to be shocked, or they won’t do a damn thing.

      It might be interesting to re-post the information without the photo just to see what happens. If more people shared the info, or commented, or “liked” the post, it would not make me happy because it means that people don’t want the whole truth, or the ugly truth, or to be disturbed by truth,…they just want to help a little when and if they feel like it is comfortable to them.

      Thank you for the re-blog.


  3. a really good blog post for Child Abuse Prevention Month

  4. little nel says:

    All too often the subject of sexual abuse is denied and avoided by those who can help stop this crime against children. This leaves those of us who have been wronged with unresolved pain and resentment towards those who failed to protect us or who failed to acknowledge the abuse, in addition to the anger we have towards abuser.

    I know that my speaking out about the abuse has cost me a great deal of time, money, and punishment from my family who continue to deny the abuse and set themselves against me. There is no way that I could have spoken up as a child because I did not have the resources, education or emotional support that I needed.

    We need to educate the parents about childhood sexual abuse before we ask the children to slay their own dragons as directed by law.

    I know that I was unprepared for my “punishment” as an adult for speaking up. How can we expect children to endure the same punishment that we as adults found cruel and agonizing by speaking up?

    A child is no match for an adult who wants to shut them up. I see more pain, fear, and confusion for a child who is taught to fight against something so destructive and powerful when the adults don’t comply with the law. Teach the adults first, then tell the children how the adults are supposed to protect them from sexual abuse and what they can do if their family avoids or denies the abuse so that the child will not be labeled the “trouble-maker” and be unjustly demonized as it happens now.

    What child doesn’t want to be cherished and protected? Lets be sure that the problem isn’t made more confusing and painful to children who have to incriminate their parents or family members for denying or avoiding the subject of sexual abuse.

    • Alethea says:

      Little Nel, this is a great comment.

      Adults and parents need to educate themselves first. They are the ones who need to take action. I see a lot of articles lately about getting kids to speak up, and getting kids to fight back etc. Wait a minute! Is this just another way for the adult world to shun their responsibility and to place it back on the victim? ‘Let the victim take action, not us.’ ‘we are too busy to find out about that stuff, the victim needs to be taught to defend themselves.’

      Children are too small, vulnerable, confused, in fear, lonely, and lack reasoning skills. They are also quite often receiving gifts, special favors, favoritism, and or, enjoying some of the sexual touching etc. Some children do not want it to end.

      It is ultimately up to adults to educate themselves and to be vigilant protectors. It’s not the child’s job! Children should be educated in school about abuse, and taught ways to help themselves…but it is the adult world that needs to be in charge of taking action.

      Thank you Little Nel. I knew I was irritated by reading articles lately on the amount of children being educated…but I could not put my finger on why I was bothered….. Well now I get it! Who is educating the adults? And when we try, the adults don’t want to hear it! Look at my Facebook experiment, not one adult shared the information, or commented on my post.

      I think I will write an article on this and submit it in other places besides my Blog. I think this is important. Any further thoughts would be appreciated.


  5. kellbabs says:

    I love this… I wonder if its passed in Indiana? My kids have never meantioned anything about this, and I believe its much more important than any subject matter taught in school!

  6. Spector says:

    Wow. Thank you, Erin.

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