Friday, July 29, 2016

Finally, you can talk to your kids

Looking back through history, there are several people in history that changed a generation.  Jesus, The Boston Tea Party, Mother Theresa, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr. jump to mind immediately when you think of positive changes to our world.  The social changes they made through their actions greatly impacted humanity for the better.  According to MIT, the most influential person in history is Aristotle. 

Aristotle was an Ancient Greek philosopher born circa 384 B.C. in Stagira, Greece. At 17, he enrolled in Plato’s Academy. In 338, he began tutoring Alexander the Great. In 335, Aristotle founded his own school, the Lyceum, in Athens, where he spent most of the rest of his life studying, teaching and writing. Aristotle died in 322 B.C. after being one of the most influential people to form western philosophy.  He did that through learning, writing, and teaching. 

Here we stand, in the 21st century in a country where we are free to believe anything, to live out any possibility, and to love who we want to love, yet the statistics still remain that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused.  It’s a silent epidemic that affects nearly everyone in some way, either because they were abused, or they know someone who was. 

More than a year ago, a team was formed within a company called Damsel in Defense.  Even before Damsel in Defense became a household name, Co-Founder Mindy Lin knew there was a need to protect more than adult women.  From the beginning, she wanted to find a way to change the way abuse had always been silenced.

As an outspoken survivor, advocate, student of abuse, writer, and public speaker, when I started with Damsel in Defense, I knew in my heart there was a greater mission.  I tried to find where my passion was hiding by shadowing others who worked with organizations that fought sex trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault.  Those are all great causes, and they need every person they have working for them, but still I felt like there was more.  Every time I looked into the eyes of a victim of any of those things, I saw a lost child staring back at me, pleading for that one thing that was missing: prevention.

I began working with national organizations like RAINN (Rape And Incest National Network) by joining their speaker’s bureaus, and searching more locally where my impact could help my own community by working with OAASIS (Oregon Abuse Advocates and survivors In Service), but my legacy was still an enigma.

When Mindy Lin contacted me to work on a top secret project that would help children, I was all in.  After flying to Boise, Damsel in Defense’s headquarters, for a brainstorming meeting, it was clear the direction we were going and we went to work to answer the question that was presented to me as a survivor: What did I need to help tell?

The answer was validation.  I tried several times as a child to tell a teacher or a friend’s mom or someone who I felt could do something about it, and nobody knew what to do.  I didn’t come straight out and say my father was molesting me, but I clearly was trying to open up a conversation in hopes that someone would hear me.  By the time I was in the third grade, I already saw that it was pointless, and the threats from my dad became too much, so I endured.  The only programs about my safety that were offered through my whole life were stranger danger talks.  No one repeated to be COURAGEOUS and make the RIGHT choice, or to keep telling until someone listened.  No one said that the invisible line around me was for anybody, even if I knew them or they tried to make me.  

These things weren’t talked about, and to this day, more than 30 years later, I still see it being silenced.  The conversations aren’t happening because people either don’t know how to handle them, or they’re too scared to find out something is. 

It’s time to normalize the conversation and change the way society talks about the silent epidemic of abuse.

I was commissioned to write a series of children’s books to start the process of creating safe space for parents to open the conversation with their children.  Our team included amazing professionals from a psychologist, marketing team, illustrator, and focus groups. 

SAFE Hearts stands for Share Awareness for Family Empowerment, and begins with the release of the first 2 books, My Friend’s New Toy and Madison’s Big Brother as well as a Parent Guide.  The Parent Guide is key to navigating the conversations you will start opening up with your kids.  It will lead you through why it’s important, what to look for, and what to do if something in one of the books triggers your kids to start talking about something that happened to them or someone they know. 

My Friend’s New Toy is about a young girl who goes to play at a new friend’s house, where she finds herself in a tricky situation and meets the Heart Defenders, four kids on a mission to protect the hearts of kids in trouble. 

Madison’s Big Brother takes us to a girl whose best friend’s brother has a crush that might go too far.  Again, the Heart Defenders step in to teach children everywhere how to protect their hearts and the hearts of others. 

The interaction doesn’t just stop with a story.  There are interactive pieces in the back of each book to keep the conversation going, as well as puzzle packs to keep the Heart Defenders fresh in their minds, and a website filled with printable coloring pages, Heart Defender Certificates, and your child’s own Heart Defender badge.

SAFE Hearts has also partnered with Speak Your Silence, a non-profit that pays for counseling services for children who are victims of sexual abuse.  The mission is to empower as many children as possible to change an entire generation of children.

 The end product that was shaped behind closed doors in secret was just a group of people learning, writing, and teaching just like Aristotle did with the hopes that it will make an impact on the lives of families in bondage. 

SAFE HEARTS  can be purchased either directly from the website or by hosing an Empowering Kidversations class either online or in person, or find your passion in a career you love by joining us.  Find more information at

No comments:

Post a Comment