Childhood sexual abuse survivor turned author, speaker, child advocate and activist Erin Merryn is the founder and president of Erin’s Law.
See her personal website at ErinMerryn.net
A survivor of rape by an uncle, from age 6-8; plus incest by an older cousin, from age 11-13 (without her parents’ knowledge), Erin is now on a mission to persuade all 50 states to pass Erin’s Law, which mandates that all public schools use age-appropriate curricula to teach students how to tell on anyone who touches or attempts to touch their private parts.
In just a few short years, she has already persuaded numerous states to pass similar versions of the law. Illinois was the first to do so in 2011, naming the law after Erin, in honor of her efforts to protect children from sexual abuse. She has now dedicated her life to protecting our nation’s children and was honored for her efforts last November as one of Glamour Magazine’s 2012 Women of the Year.
Erin first gained public attention for this cause when she self-published her first book while still a senior in high school in Schaumburg IL, entitled: Stolen Innocence: Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse: A Memoir. Through her personal diary, written during the years of her abuse, Erin shares her journey through pain and confusion to inner strength and, ultimately, forgiveness. After it was republished by Health Communications in early 2005, she began traveling the nation telling her story about the sexual abuse she endured at hundreds of high schools, colleges, sexual assault centers, child abuse conferences and community events. Erin decided at a young age to take a stand against evil and expose the silent epidemic of child sexual abuse in the spotlight. As a result, she has been interviewed by many major news organizations and TV programs beginning in 2006, on the Montel Williams Show, Good Morning America, the Chicago Tribune, Cosmo Girl Magazine, Time, the Oprah Winfrey Show (twice), CNN, Jane Velez-Mitchell, the London Times, Glamour Magazine and dozens more local media.
After graduating with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in social work from Western Illinois and Aurora Universities in 2008 and 2009, Health Communications published her second book, Living for Today: From Incest and Molestation to Fearlessness and Forgiveness. In it, Erin chronicles how she cultivated the strength to face her abuser and eventually found relief from years of emotional restlessness, while also igniting the beginnings of a new fearless journey. Anyone who has felt victimized, ashamed, isolated, and silenced by their abusers will receive a road-map in the book for self-discovery, forgiveness, and empowerment to overcome trauma and live fully and fearlessly for today.
In 2010, Erin decided to step up her efforts to protect children nationwide and started writing state legislators to ask them to pass laws requiring schools to better educate children, school employees and parents how to prevent and stop child sexual abuse. She told them that, growing up in Illinois, she had experienced tornado drills, fire drills and bus drills; was taught about stranger danger and eight ways to say no to drugs through D.A.R.E., but no one ever taught her how to protect herself from sexual abuse and what to do if a family member or friend molested or raped her.
In April, 2010, Illinois State Senator Tim Bivins agreed to meet with Erin and he became the first state legislator to sponsor “Erin’s Law.” Since that first meeting, Erin has met with dozens of state legislators, testified numerous times in front of State Senate and House committees, served on several committees to draft bills and implement the new laws, plus speaks regularly to schools, agencies, conferences and media nationwide.
Erin says she believes everyone is born with a purpose and she has found hers through the events that have occurred in her life. She is not ashamed of the sexual abuse she endured as a child and, instead, feels inspired to put a face and voice on childhood sexual abuse. She is dedicated to taking the stigma and shame away from sexual abuse and giving survivors the courage to speak up as she has. She is at war against this silent evil that is lurking in the shadows and is devoted to opening the eyes of the public to the tens of thousands of children who are being abused right now – silently – in our own communities and backyards without our knowledge.
Every six minutes a child is sexually abused in the U.S. One in every 4 girls and 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the turn 18 – over 90% by a family member or friend. But only 1 in every 10 sexually abused children ever tell anyone about it.
Children must be taught to tell a trusted adult if anyone touches their private parts.
Please join Erin Merryn in her crusade to protect children from sexual abuse and donate to help her with her travel expenses today!
Forgiveness is what set me free. Choosing to forgive has led me to live for today.