my most intimidating post… please help STOP THIS ABUSE!

by jani on April 3, 2013

I’m a statistic…  I’m a victim of sexual child abuse. This statement somehow sounds so cold. My abuser was a neighbor… no one suspected him. I don’t know how many children he abused. Back in the early fifties, there was really no accurate count of the number of pedophiles in our country. It was really taboo to speak of such things.

At least now, sexual abuse is a  much more acceptable subject and is even an encouraged discussion among parents to children. But we have so much more work to do, if we wish to eradicate all child abuse and sex trafficking in our country. I believe that there is hope – but we need to get parents, educators and legislators all on board to improve the statistics. That’s right… it happens, most often right under our noses. And Utah (where I currently live) ranks a D when it comes to stopping sex trafficking of minors. No young, innocent girl wakes up one morning and says, “Gee, I think I’ll be a prostitute when I grow up.”

Most young girls, who are, are being forced into this profession ( I don’t like using that word) Rather than prostitute, let’s use the term “sex slave” – since many of these young girls are the product of kidnapping and methodical grooming. They are often treated worse than animals.

People, this just has to stop! Recently an observant Delta flight attendant noticed a peculiar and uncomfortable situation on her plane. Before landing, she contacted the authorities and a man who had been on her plane was arrested for kidnapping the three young people traveling with him… IT CAN BE STOPPED!

I have struggled with image my entire life… never really feeling pretty. It’s been a constant inner battle. The evening that I was asked to share my abuse story publicly –  the first time in my 64 years… I found myself asking HB for affirmation to try to dispell my negatives: “Honey, does my hair look okay? And what about my eyes… do thy look really bad… all puffy and gross?” It was in those moments that I stopped and connected the dots. This goes back to years of my feelings of worthlessness and guilt. I felt like I was being abused all over again by this neighbor.

I copied a photo to show this high school group… it was taken shortly after the abuse began. “It’s our secret… just between us. Remember, don’t tell anyone!” Les would say. So for 38 years I was silent. I did begin to avoid him whenever he came to our home after I reached age nine or 10. But I can still smell the cigarettes on his hands and see his yellow crooked teeth in my mind….

It’s so different looking at my young me and realizing how innocent I truly was.

me 2

I look back at photos of me when I graduated from Denver University. I wasn’t ugly – and yet I felt ugly, dirty and guilty.

me 3

It’s easy to hide behind a mask when you’ve been sexually wounded- physically, emotionally and psychologically. I spent much of my adult life doing just that. It wasn’t until I met  HB, my best friend… the person I finally felt completely safe with, whom I could finally share my abuse story with. He held me close and let me sob. I’m not sure how long. But I do know he was there for me. It’s very difficult to allow people into this ugly world. But once I did, I was able to begin my healing and forgiving process. Therapy definitely helped.

As I said earlier, I finally, after all these years, shared my story publicly for the first time. It was another cathartic moment. The tears flowed freely, but once I was finished, I felt some more of my burden lifted.

You may ask, how can I help? If you’re a Utah resident here is a link: Raise The Grade

We each have a voice. I would suggest we use it – for it can be a powerful tool against this evil! As always, I welcome any comments.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

June April 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm

It’s indeed liberating to find your voice. You did such a great job speaking to those kids. Thank you for being so brave and telling your story 🙂


jani April 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Thank you, June. I watched “Les Miserables” with HB the other night and sobbed during Fantine’s, “I Dreamed A Dream”! My heart aches for our “lost girls”!


aimee @ like mother like daughter April 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Oh my goodness, Jan. I am sending a virtual hug your way and telling you that you ARE beautiful. Thanks for helping us to raise the bar.


jani April 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Thank you, Aimee – I feel it! 🙂


Lindsey April 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

It takes so much courage to share a story like yours. You’re an amazing example of strength, kindness, and real beauty – inside and out. I’m proud to call you a friend.


jani April 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Oh Lindsey, you made me cry, sweet friend!


Aly April 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

This post is awesome… I went to your link. So, sex trafficing isn’t a crime???


jani April 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Aly, my friends, Charise and June, could share some stories! We need lots of voices shouting loud and clear that it is a serious crime!


Lindsay @Artsy-Fartsy Mama April 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Sending big hugs your way! You are a beautiful, talented woman and I’m so glad I know you!


jani April 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks, Lindsay!


Amy April 4, 2013 at 6:57 am

Jani- you are brave, inspiring and beautiful! Thank you for having the courage to add your voice and raise awareness of this terrible crime.


jani April 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Thanks, Amy – xoxo back!


Jacqui April 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Jan I had no idea! I am so sorry that happened to you! I have always thought you were beautiful inside and out. I didn’t like seminary until you came into the picture. I just want you to know I think the world of you:)


jani April 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Jacqui, you know I’ve always loved you! You’ve just made my day, sweetie!


sharon April 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm

You are so brave~ Thank you for sharing. You are an amazing woman! I’m so blessed for knowing you.


jani April 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

Thanks, Sharon! xoxo


Marie April 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Jani, how amazing that you’re able to speak publicly about this, such a hard topic. But yes, I’m glad to see more people talking out, sharing their stories. You included. You’re an inspiration! Love you!


jani April 26, 2013 at 9:29 am

Thanks, Marie – love you, too!


Diane Norton April 29, 2013 at 12:39 am

Many thanks, Jan.

Keep telling your story . . . let me know what helps.

We all need to tell our stories, over and over. They never ever go out of style. At first dark and negative. The negatives have to come first. Those stories have waited a long time to be told. Eventually light, and even laughter, begins to slip into the stories.

I say, tell it like it was, tell it like it is. You have my thanks and admiration. And love.


jani May 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Diane, this is such a lovely comment. Thank you for your support!


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