Wednesday, January 1, 2014

“An Unimaginable Act” by Erin Merryn highlights the strength and courage of a young girl’s heart

 “An Unimaginable Act” is the third book by Erin Merryn that highlights the strength and courage of a young girl’s heart

As I read the final paragraph of Erin Merryn’s third book “An Unimaginable Act” I wept openly at the overwhelming pain forced upon the heart of such a young girl. Molested by a friend’s uncle at a sleepover and then later by her cousin, Erin Merryn struggled within a prison of silence constructed by her abusers. In the world today, one in four girls and one in six boys are victims of child sexual abuse. There are over forty-two million survivors of child sexual abuse in the world today. According to a Centers for Disease Control study, the lifetime costs for the victims of child sexual abuse reported in one year is $124 billion. Jerry Sandusky has shown that pedophiles are among us cloaked in respectability. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that there are currently 500,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and typically 100,000 of those are unaccounted for. Other pedophiles are not on records or in databases.
Erin Merryn remembers the suffering she endured from being molested; “I would often isolate myself, wanting to be alone so nobody could see just how broken I was” Erin says. Her only solace became a small journal where Erin painfully wrote of her daily struggle with the depression and heartache that shrouded her. For many years Erin said nothing as her grades slowly spiraled downward and her self-imposed isolation became absolute. Then one day the sleeping giant of a young girl’s courage would shatter the shackles of silence. “One day my sister confided in me that our cousin had begun molesting her and I felt something rise up inside me that eclipsed the bottomless well of fear that had ransomed my silence”, Erin remembers. It was then she felt the courage that lay hidden for so long consume every fiber of her body and as her voice shook, she finally confided in her parents the secret pain she had locked away so deep inside her.
When questioned by police, Erin’s cousin confessed to molesting her and was sentenced to seven years probation and 1000 hours of community service. On average, those convicted of sexually abusing a child serve less than a year of jail time and 32% to 46% serve no jail time at all. The friend’s uncle who molested Erin during a sleepover refused to cooperate with police and due to a lack of evidence, could not be prosecuted. Erin’s family had chosen not to put her sister and her through the ordeal of a trial and allowed her cousin to confess and accept the punishment he was given. What Erin and her family couldn’t fathom was the reaction they would receive from the rest of their family. “ Our relatives, who supported our cousin after he confessed ostracized us. It was too difficult for them to believe that a family member could do something so heinous”, Erin remembers. This is often the case and as a survivor of child abuse, I have also experienced the isolation that accompanies breaking the silence of child abuse. Research studies have shown that on the average every victim of child abuse must tell an average of seven adults before they are believed. A truly shocking statistic, but one that I will confirm from personal experience as each of the teachers and adults I told dismissed my claims as an over active imagination. One of the teachers I confessed to went on to molest me for a number of years.
During her senior year in high school Erin Merryn came up with the idea to turn the journal she had kept as a young girl into a book. It was from her journal that in 2005 the book “Stolen Innocence” was published. Using her newfound celebrity Erin began to work on the creation and implementation of “Erin’s law,” mandating child abuse education from kindergarten through eighth grade. Erin Merryn has succeeded in passing Erin’s law in eight states, and fourteen states are introducing the law in 2013-2014. In 2009, Erin followed up her first book “Stolen Innocence” with her second book, “Living for Today.”
In her third book Erin Merryn delves even deeper into her personal struggles, not only child abuse but with a life threatening condition discovered by a random set of events. She also bravely discusses being diagnosed with a learning disability during her junior year of high school after the cruelty of a math teacher sent her already low self-esteem spiraling downward. She remembers the day in her Algebra 2 class when her already fragile heart would be broken with just a few words.  “Erin, do you plan to go to college?” her teacher asked. “Surprised at her unexpected query I responded with a simple yes”,Erin remembers. “You need to rethink your plans because you will never get into college. Don’t waste your time applying”,the teacher responded. Erin was devastated and it was only through the steadfast advocacy of her mother that Erin regained her confidence and went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Aurora University.
Erin Merryn has faced many insurmountable obstacles in her life and has overcome them with unrelenting courage, support from her family and faith in God. “An Unimaginable Act” is an inspirational journey into the heart of a young woman who faced adversity and rose above it to be a champion for innocent children. Erin Merryn’s third book is a powerful reminder of what the strength of  family and faith in God can achieve and is a must read for anyone who has lost their belief in the power of hope.
                                             Jerome Elam

Always remember that you are never alone and that others have walked the healing path before you and are here to lift you up! Also remember that as survivors and victims, alone we may be strong but together we are unbeatable! 
                                          Jerome Elam

Jerome Elam
Staff Writer and Columnist for Communities Digital News http;//
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"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

Always remember that you are never alone and that others have walked the healing path before you and are here to lift you up! Also remember that as survivors and victims, alone we may be strong but together we are unbeatable!

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