The impact of prevention education is far reaching and life changing. For Sandra, a student of Speak Up Be Safe’s forerunner program, that impact not only helped stop ongoing sexual abuse by her father, but provided an early understanding that what was happening was not her fault, and help was available to her.
When she was a little girl her class took part in Good Touch/Bad Touch, a child abuse prevention education program that would later become Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe.
“When I was in second grade,” Sandra recalled, “they came to our school and showed us some videos and talked about it.” The video explained sexual abuse, and at the end, they encouraged children to go to a trusted adult if something like that was happening to them.
“I didn’t actually realize what was going on with me until I saw that,” she admitted. “I was being sexually abused by my father, and it gave me the strength to go to an adult and tell them.” Soon after the program, Sandra disclosed her abuse to a Girl Scout leader.
“Unfortunately, instead of her going to authorities,” Sandra explained, “she went directly to my parents and nothing ever happened, but I think the program made me realize that it wasn’t right, that it wasn’t my fault, and it gave me the strength to go to someone else later.”
Sandra’s father would eventually see time in prison, but it wouldn’t be until much later, after a friend and a cousin came forward. “He did 12 years, and even when he got out,” she explained, “he continued to harass me. I had to file charges, and he got another 10 years.”
She recalled the benefits of her earlier anti-abuse education during the counseling and group therapy she received in the wake of her father’s apprehension and prosecution. “I think it’s because knowing at such an early stage of being abused that it wasn’t my fault and there was help.” Sandra reported that she felt less of the trauma and anguish of many of the other girls, “I think that helped me through the years, planting that in my head and knowing that. I think that if children can realize at a young age that it’s not their fault – that the other person is sick or whatever – and if they can see that at the beginning, I think that really would help them.”
Sandra is hopeful that more abuse can be prevented, and we’re glad to share her story. And we’re also glad to share her hope: “I hope they get these programs back in the schools all over, because sometimes school is the only place that kids have a safe place or a place outside their home that if they can find this information out that something is wrong and it’s not right, and it can help them at a young age. So I really hope they implement these programs all over the whole country.”
Sandra’s name has been changed to protect her identity.