People have asked me to share the speech I gave at the rally in Harrisburg, PA last week. While intensely personal, I believe it’s very important that people are aware of the long-term ramifications of educator sexual abuse. So, I have decided to include my speech here:
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak today. I want to begin with a question followed by a brief story. By a show of hands, how many of you have children? How would you feel if your child were sitting in a classroom, and her teacher was a known sex offender? I am guessing none of you would want to take that risk and have your child in such close proximity to this type of danger. And yet, by allowing known sex offenders to quietly resign and move on to other school districts, we are doing exactly that. I am here today to urge those of you who have the power, to stop this criminal activity the moment it is discovered, by passing Senate Bill 46, The S.E.S.A.M.E. Act.
I want to share a story with you. There was this middle school girl. She was very lonely, isolated, and in desperate need of a positive male role model in her life. Her middle school science teacher took on that role eagerly, and soon began grooming her for what would become years of control, manipulation, threats, and sexual abuse. After more than 10 years, she was finally able to break away from this man, and she reclaimed her life and freedom. 11 years later, she decided in spite of her fears that she needed to report this abuse to the middle school. The school did nothing. No police report, no police investigation. Nothing. A year following her report she was notified by local police that this teacher had molested two 14 year old girls
What makes this story different from the others you hear about in the news? That middle school girl was me. You are looking at a survivor of educator sexual abuse. This is real. My childhood was filled with pain and torment that no child should ever know.
As a result of this abuse, I have struggled with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks as well as anguishing guilt for not being able to find the courage to make a report sooner. I had great difficulty forming trusting relationships or making healthy life choices for many years. And although I have finally found a wonderful and caring man to share my life, to this day I still experience sexual difficulties, and nearly every time we are intimate, I cry.
I have also grown tremendously. I have discovered this voice of mine that refuses to be silenced any longer. I stand here today representing the thousands of students from Pennsylvania, and the millions of students across the country, who cannot yet find their voices.
In closing, I want to share one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King:
“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, “Wait on time.”
I’m here to say we cannot wait while one more predator finds his/her way into another classroom and harms another child. Every day that the S.E.S.A.M.E. Act is not in place, children continue to be at risk. I’m raising my voice to say; NO more PASSING the TRASH, PASS the S.E.S.A.M.E. Act! Will you raise your voices with me? NO more PASSING the TRASH, PASS the S.E.S.A.M.E. Act!!!
Thank you very much