Dear Parents and Professionals,
In the past ten years huge strides have been made in the field of child sexual abuse prevention and intervention. But there is more that must be done. Everyday millions of American children still silently endure the wounds of long-term re-victimization.
I was one of those kids. After healing, I wanted to make a difference and began volunteering at Childrenís Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Child Advocacy. There I met hundreds of kids whose lives, like mine, were forever altered. But no matter what I endured or how many kids I encountered, nothing could have prepared me for the day a ten year old boy entered for his forensic interview. What made his story so much more tragic was that, this time, he wasnít the victim. Having been sexually abused for years, he lashed out, raping his five year old sister.
That day I realized volunteering came much too late. That day I realized although effective prevention is critical, the only way to break the silence, stop the cycle, and protect innocent children is through more effective educational tools. That day I realized because children are more likely to listen to and learn from each other, victimized kids, through their heroic voices, their true stories, and their amazing ability to survive, have the power to reach out and teach kids in a dynamic new way. That day the idea for my book, Kids Helping Kids Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse, was born.
Immediately I started interviewing counselors and therapists. I was determined to learn everything I could about sexual abuse. But I was even more determined to find child victims willing to enlighten the world with their perspective of how it felt to be violated, how they were manipulated into sexual activity then silenced, how they were changed, and what they did to endure, survive and eventually triumph. Although my journey finding these courageous kids wasnít easy, I didnít give up. I just couldnít.
Eventually I encountered dedicated adults who not only believed in this project but believed in the strength of their healing child clients. The brave kids I encountered, like the outstanding adults who stood behind them, were stronger and more focused than I could ever have imagined. They willingly and openly told me their gripping stories filled with shame and fear, filled with vulnerability and despair, filled with strength and healing. But whatís more amazing is they didnít tell me so Iíd feel sorry for them or do something to make their lives better. They told me because they knew by speaking out, other kids, kids just like them, could be spared what they had endured Ė the devastation of long-term sexual abuse.
I hope you will take time to read this touching book and use its powerful message to educate all children about the dangers of sexual abuse. Together we can make the world a safer place ó one child at a time.
Linda Lee Foltz
Kids Helping Kids