Nearly 17 years ago, I woke up from a nightmare I didn’t realize I was in. If you’re a parent whose child has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of someone you know and trust, you will understand what I mean. Sitting in a family counselor’s office, the world as I knew it came crashing down as I learned that my eldest daughter, Lauren, had been sexually, emotionally and physically abused nearly every day from the ages of 12 to 16.
I worked hard to provide my family with a wonderful life and to create a loving and safe environment for my children to grow. I made sure to get references and background checks on everyone interacting with my daughters or son. But I was unable to protect Lauren from the monster living in my own home.
It never occurred to me that sexual abuse could happen to my family, let alone to my children. That is the message I want to send to every other parent out there: Don’t think this can’t happen to you or your children. Child sexual abuse happens in every ZIP code, in every religion and at every socioeconomic level.