Golf Pro Anya Alvarez: One Survivor’s Story & Her Goal To Stop Child Abuse!

                       Her name is Anya. She is smart, kind, eloquent, beautiful, philanthropic, pro golfer and a survivor of childhood sex abuse. She is sharing her story to break the silence and to raise awareness to prevent others from suffering sexual abuse.

                       A man, a friend of the family, slowly over time groomed her when she was 9. He helped the family out by offering to take Anya golfing while her parents worked. Every time he visited with her he brought her gifts of her favorite foods and candy. She trusted him, as did her parents. Over time in their car rides together this man began to talk with 9 year old Anya about a man’s body and a girl’s. Although Anya had never had conversations with her parents about her body, safe touches and unsafe touches, secrets and boundaries, instinctively she felt something was ‘strange’ but she did not know yet that this was crossing a line of personal safety.

                       The abuse went from verbal to sexual abuse – often occurring in the car. She didn’t tell as he abused her for 6 months. He did not “hurt” her and she was so confused as she loved this man. On one hand he cared for her, brought her things she loved and spent time with her. On the other he sexually abused her. Her confusion also stemmed from her body. The touch sometimes felt good. Our bodies are programmed to respond to touch and therein is where Anya’s and many children become confused, uncomfortable, nervous, and they have inner turmoil over the abuse.

                      Ayna shares feelings of being ashamed and not sharing her secret until this man abused her in a way that made something snap inside her. She immediately ran from the man directly to her father to report. She was scared, but he believed her immediately. The abuser was literally saying to the father as she is disclosing the abuse that Anya was lying. Imagine the courage it took Anya to stand strong to an authority figure. Her father believed her immediately. This gift (and it is a gift) of her father’s utter belief in Anya’s story became the strength that would start her healing.

                     Anya Alvarez has become our spokesperson for KidSafe Foundation as she believes, had she had a program of prevention education at a young age she would have recognized that something was not right very early on and would have spoken to her parents about it. Anya has joined forces with KidSafe sharing her story in the hopes that together they can prevent child abuse.

                    Last night at a presentation they provided together at Boca Helping Hands, parents asked amazing questions. Anya clearly had an enormous impact. We want to share the main points:

  • Start at a young age (4) and talk with your children about their bodies, boundaries, safe and unsafe touches and secrets.

  • Empower children that their bodies are special and belong to them.

  • Empower your children that they have a voice and can say “NO” if something does not feel right or is uncomfortable.

  • Tell your children they can talk with you about anything and you will not be uncomfortable with what they say.

  • Listen and remain “poker faced” no matter what they say so communication does not break down.

  • Do NOT use the terms “good touch” or “bad touch” – it is too confusing as sexual abuse can feel good. Use Safe Touch  and Unsafe touch.

  • Reporting is crucial and adults need to trust their instincts and always err on the side of protecting children.

  • Disclosure – always believe your children if they tell you they were abused (they will often tell indirectly). It is so rare for children to lie about abuse and your belief can make them feel powerful and give them strength to start their healing.

  • Tell your children it is never ever their fault if they are abused. It is ALWAYS the abusers fault.

  • Counseling immediately is important. Not just for the survivor but for the whole family.



    Anya’s final words – “Don’t treat survivors as victims and become overprotective of them.”

                    It is common for parents to want to put their child in a bubble when they have been hurt, but Anya says this can make a child feel more alienated then they already feel. KidSafe and Anya are on a mission together to prevent child abuse. They believe that 95% of abuse and exploitation of children can be prevented with education. Please join us on our mission and share this blog with your family and friends and together we will break the cycle of child abuse. You can watch Anya Alvarez on the golf channel on May 14 2012 starring in The Big Break http://www.golfchannel.com/media/big-break-atlantis-player-photo-gallery/#24

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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