Silence EMPOWERS the Abuser – Guest Post By Pro Golfer Anya Alvarez

anya alvarez with KidSafe Golf bag

 

I remember sitting in the police station as an officer started asking me questions about what had happened to me. I was 9-years-old and felt confused. I had no idea what was happening or why. All I had done was tell my dad that Gilbert, a close family friend, had touched me and that it made me feel a cross between violated and unsure if it was normal behavior. 

 

I did not understand the extent of how and why it was wrong. All I knew is that the situation felt strange. I didn’t start to feel that way until 6 months after he had started molesting me. 

 

As the investigation continued, details started to come out that this wasn’t the first time that Gilbert had been accused of assaulting children. While he worked as a janitor at McDonalds parents often complained about his behavior towards their children. When he worked as a bus driver for the elementary schools, a few parents complained their daughters would come home much later than when the bus was supposed to arrive. 

 

For whatever reason no one ever reported anything to the police. No one ever pressed charges. They remained silent and decided that as long as their child was protected from the abuse it did not matter.  This did not seem to have an affect on me at the time because as a child everything that took place felt disorienting. 

 

As years went by, after the trial and after Gilbert was released from jail, I couldn’t help but think that had those parents actually pressed charges,  I would have been spared from the hands of Gilbert. I experienced a lot of traumas as a teenager. My self-worth was nonexistent, I often felt suicidal, and struggled developing healthy relationships with men. I was unaware of how the sexual abuse affected me until years later. 

 

Obviously, the past is the past.  However, it doesn’t take away the responsibility those parents had in protecting other children. Here’s the deal: if you saw a fire you wouldn’t just stand there and let it burn the rest of the city down. You would call the fire-department and tell them, “Hey! There is a fire over here and people are going to get hurt! Come put it out!”

 

That’s the way child sexual abuse needs to be addressed. An abuser never just has one victim. An abuser has several, if not dozens upon dozens. A study done showed that male offenders who abused girls had an average of 52 victims each. 

 

Silence is the worst enemy society faces when it comes to child sexual abuse. If we look at the Penn State scenario and the fact that people were aware that Jerry Sandusky was molesting and raping young men, yet they said nothing, they were saying with their inaction that the abuse taking place was permitted and that these children did not need protecting nor did any of Sandusky’s future victims. 

 

Silence empowers the abuser. It encourages them to keep abusing because they know many are afraid to speak. I encourage all parents to give their children who have been victims of sexual abuse a voice. Empower them with the option of pressing charges against their abuser. Empower them to know that using their voice will be saving other children from the same abuse. 

 

Give children the chance to be part of the solution to help bring an end to child sexual abuse. Give children a voice to know why certain behaviors are wrong and why it’s important to help bring an end to child sexual abuse. Abusers want to believe they have power: it’s just as important to take that power away from them. 

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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