Author, Activist, Speaker, wife, mother,
and force behind Erin's Law
Glamour Magazine 2012 Woman of the Year and named by PEOPLE Magazine a HEROES Among us and one of fifteen women changing the world in their June 2014 issue
Author of Stolen Innocence, Living for Today and
An Unimaginable Act. Order it today.
Erin Merryn is a Woman of the Year because..."She's taken her personal crusade and turned it into a public one. So many children will be protected because of her." --TV host Katie Couric, 1992, 2002, and 2006 Woman of the Year.
Just weeks shy of my 7th birthday in January 1992 I was held down on a bed as my adult neighbor brutally raped me. It was so brutal I thought I was dying. I remember being so utterly confused as I cried as to why he was smiling back at me. Memories of that day are seared in my memory. The abuse continued until I was eight and a half years old and threatened to stay silent by this man.
My saving grace came when we moved when I was eight. Only to later discover by moving I was getting that much closer to the next abuser in my life. From eleven to thirteen I was repeatedly sexually abused at the hands of a family member who also threatened me into silence.
The only message I got as a child came from my abusers and that was to stay silent or else. I went to bed night after night crying into my pillow, having nightmares, and keeping my secrets locked away in my childhood diary.
I believe everyone is born with a purpose and I found my purpose through the pain that has taken place in my life. I decided at a young age to take a stand against evil and instead expose it to put a silent epidemic in the spotlight and be a voice for the voiceless.
I turned my childhood diary into a book Stolen Innocence and self-published it when I was a senior in high school. It was republished by Health Communications Inc. in January 2005. I began flying the country telling my story of the sexual abuse I endured as a child. A story I am not ashamed of but instead inspired to put a face and voice on sexual abuse. My mission is to take the stigma and shame off of sexual abuse survivors and give them a reason to speak. To educate the public that children are being abused right now in your own communities and our own backyards. I am at war against this silent evil that is lurking in the shadows.
My media appearances have included Oprah Winfrey Network 2014, Windy City Live 2014, MSNBC 2013, FOX 2013, Katie Couric 2013, Today Show announcing me as Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year 2012, Oprah Life Class 2012, CNN 2012, Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell 2011, Oprah Winfrey Show October 2010, Montel Williams in April/July 2006, and Good Morning America in May 2006. People Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Time Magazine, Cosmo Girl Magazine, The London Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, among others have interviewed me. I have appeared in many local news station programs after speaking at an event. I have also taken part in numerous radio interviews. I appeared in a commercial for the National Children's Alliance that began airing in July 2010. In December 2010 I was named Newsmaker of the year for the Daily Herald.
I have spoken at high schools, colleges, sexual assault centers, child abuse conferences, United States Department of Education, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, fundraisers, and community events. I am dedicated to the work 900 Children's Advocacy Centers in America do for helping children heal. It was the very first place in my childhood I broke my silence and began sharing some of the details of what I went through. I learned there I was not at fault for what happened.
I earned my bachelors degree in social work from Western Illinois University in May 2008. I graduated with my masters in social work from Aurora University in May 2009. My second book Living For Today was published November 2nd 2009. My third book An Unimaginable Act came out November, 2013 I plan to put all my focus and energy into speaking engagements across America until I see the change America needs. I went after a law called "Erin's Law" in January 2010. It was passed in the Senate in May 2010, House November 2010, sent to Governor December 17, 2010. The first version of Erin's law was signed by Governor Pat Quinn February 14, 2011. It created the task force to study what needs to be taught and how it would be done. The second version of Erin's Law REQUIRING all Illinois public schools to teach sexual abuse prevention was signed by Governor Quinn January 24th, 2013. It was the top story on every Chicago news station.
I am taking Erin's Law NATIONAL! I am testifying state to state and have gotten it passed in 20 states with 21 more states introducing.
Erin's law will provide age appropriate curriculum for kids on sexual abuse pre-k through 12th grade. Educating kids on safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, unsafe secrets, how to get away and tell today. I won't let SEX OFFENDERS silence our children anymore! I am taking back the power and control they have on our kids. I am one of those who will talk about it and will not let anything get in my way of bringing this epidemic in the spotlight. I am on an unstoppable crusade that has learned more in 28 years of life then I could have ever expected in a lifetime. My vision now is to take Erin's Law national. President Obama said in a letter to me when he was my U.S. Senator in Illinois in January 2006, "Protecting our nations children is on my mind. Now is the time to act." I will hold President Obama accountable to this statement and see that he acts on protecting our nations children. I will be speaking at the United States Department of Education national conference in Washington D.C. August 10, 2011.
None of this could have been possible without my Faith in God. He has blessed me with an amazing life thus far and I am glad to call it my life. A life not defined by evil but how I have risen above evil and have embraced it with what I have discovered and that was my purpose in life and I'm just getting started. God has opened my eyes and heart more then I could have imagined showing me my purpose. A purpose that everything in our life happens for a reason even when it hurts so bad you question if this life is really worth living anymore. Believe me it is! The only way for this silent epidemic to change is for some people to make some noise and I cannot do it on my own. I need the voices of other survivors making some noise. The media addressing this epidemic and not ignoring it. Schools educating their students not pretending it doesn't happen. I came into this world screaming and I plan on screaming my crusade to end the silence until my final day not allowing anyone or anything get in my way. Nothing and I mean NOTHING will stop me.
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