From a young age, children are taught things like looking both ways before crossing the street and to never talk to strangers. But what if they are in even greater potential danger from the people closest to them?
Erin Merryn was sexually abused and raped by her next door neighbor from the age of six to age eight, and only stopped because she moved. That only brought her to her next abuser, this time, her older cousin. She was abused by him from the age of 11 to 13 years old. He threatened her to stay silent, so she wrote down her experiences in a diary.
As an adult, she became an advocate for rape and sexual assault victims, and even published her diary. She didn’t stop there. She set out to pass legislation which would require all schools to teach Pre K through 12 age appropriate curricula on how to prevent sexual assault and rape.
In 2013, Illinois State Governor Quinn signed her law and named it after Erin. After that, she has been dedicated to convincing the rest of the country to pass a similar law, and so far has managed to convince half the country.
This is a very important initiative, because even today, there are many misconceptions on sexual abuse and rap. For example, 66% of rape victims have some sort of relationship with their abuser, whether it be a neighbor, a friend, a significant other, or a family member. Erin’s case is a prime example of that, she lived right next to her abuser, and was related to the second one. With better education, these scenarios can be prevented.