Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. Image of a woman writing her story in a journal.

Your Story Is Your Glory: How survivor stories help with child sexual abuse prevention

Your story is your glory.

My boss, Karen Haring—founder and executive director at the nonprofit Libera—loves that saying. Personally I’m fond of an offshoot of this idea: “Your mess is your message.”

These two sayings took on new meaning for me recently when…

I volunteered as a “Listener” at a body safety assembly in a West Virginia school. 

Because I’m a survivor, I want to do my part to further the cause of child sexual abuse prevention in my home state. Volunteering with two West Virginia nonprofits—Libera and Shield Task Force—allows me to do this very thing. On a regular basis. 

As a Listener at a body safety assembly, my responsibility is to be available after each presentation in the event any student has questions, wants to talk about something in particular, or needs to disclose neglect or abuse of any kind. Volunteer Listeners are trained in how to conduct these conversations safely and compassionately.

At the heart of the presentation were three stories, including my own. 

Sargent Tony Craigo, a West Virginia law enforcement professional of 20+ years, skillfully wove these personal narratives into an enlightening lesson delivered to the classrooms virtually.

For another powerful story on the topic of child sexual abuse prevention, check out this recent blog post

At the event I participated in, the school’s lower grades watched in the morning. The upper grades viewed it in the afternoon.

After each presentation, we heard comments from students and staff, such as: “That was awesome!” and, “I learned so much!” 

Both events also yielded multiple disclosures.

A number of individuals experienced “lightbulb moments” when they realized what grooming  is. 

“I think I’m being groomed!” said one.

“Oh, my gosh! That could’ve happened to me!” another said.

At these body safety assemblies—mandated in all West Virginia schools by Erin’s Law—collaborating nonprofits Libera and Shield Task Force carefully followed  a protocol ensuring students’ safety, both emotional and physical. We interfaced closely with school staff (including counselors) to make the students’ best interests our top priority.

I’m so grateful to the Women’s Giving Circle of North Central West Virginia for funding these excellent videos produced by WVMotionworks. I’m also thankful to the Pallotine Foundation of Buckhannon for underwriting our recent assemblies. 

Most of all I’m grateful that: 

In the interest of child sexual abuse prevention, Shield Task Force and Libera gave me permission to share these videos. 

Watch these videos with your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews, with every child you care about. Then be prepared to answer their questions. Pass the blog post or video links on to any individuals or organizations you think may benefit from them: parents, educators, coaches, youth leaders, etc..

Note: I recommend you preview these videos to decide if your child(ren) is ready for the material. If you have younger children, you may just want them to watch the body safety video for now.

If you would like to be trained as a Libera Listener, sign up to join a group here (in the top right corner). Participating in a Libera group is the first step to becoming a volunteer. 

Newsflash: My new children’s book, The Brave Knight, is now available. This book empowers kids to protect themselves in multiple ways. Purchase details in this post

How to teach your child about body safety to protect them from sexual abuseBody Safety for Kids - Helpful Resources for Teachers

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