I am a sexually abused child.

I cannot make my own choices.

I cannot speak and be heard.

I cannot vote for change in the court system that is rigged against me.

I cannot control what adults do to my body.

I cannot defend myself against my abuser.

I cannot defend myself against my family when they do not believe me.

I am a sexually abused child. And no one speaks out for me.

1 in 5 children like me are sexually abused in the United States. And 90% of us know who our abuser is—Step-parents, family friends, relatives and babysitters.

I was sexually molested by my step-father when I was only 11 years old. My grandparents let me live with them to protect me from my step-father. I was glad to be away from my step-father, but I missed my mom, my bother and my sister. After two years my step-father was finally brought to trial on charges of felony sexual assault of a minor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to testify and he was allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual assault and was only sentenced to two years probation and required to register as a sex offender. This is not unusual. Approximately 66% of all child sexual abuse charges end in guilty pleas to lesser charges before trial.

Most child molesters are only sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender. Many think the Sex Offender Registry law keeps sex offenders away from places where children play, but in many states the Sex Offender Registry law does not prevent a sex offender from visiting schools, playgrounds, children’s museums or even from living with or socializing with other children. The Sex Offender Registry law can only require that the sex offender register their required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals, but then the lawyers and judges allow them to plead to a lesser charge and hand down light sentences or probation—which places vulnerable children like me in danger. Many times there is more severe punishment for someone who abuses animals than there is for someone who abuses children. I don’t think this is right!

I was lucky. I had grandparents and family members who protected me and helped me get therapy. But many children aren’t so lucky. Some end up in foster care and are abused even more. And lots of times no one believes them, so they run away and end up worse.

You can be a voice for kids like me who cannot speak for themselves:

1. You can write to your senators and people in congress and demand that they make laws that hold convicted sex offenders and the courts accountable for their actions concerning child molesters.

2. You can join an organization that helps prevent sexual child abuse and tell others to join too.

3. You can talk to your children’s school about preventing sexual child abuse.

4. Talk to your kids about sexual child abuse and teach them what to watch out for.

The worst thing you can do is stay quiet about sexual child abuse. If you suspect that a child is in danger, say something.

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