I am the second oldest of 16 kids, and we were all abused

If my mother had gotten help, today I would be one of 16 emotionally and physically happy adults. But that’s not the case.

If my mother had gotten help, today 21 grandkids wouldn’t have to be constantly watched to make sure they don’t face the same issues. But that’s not the case.

I’m often asked if I would change the way I grew up. You’d think I would, but that’s not the case. I wouldn’t, because now I’m happy with who I am. Now I find myself with a unique opportunity to help others. In fact, I like to tell people about Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s child advocacy programs, because they focus on child abuse prevention. In my mind, if you focus on treatment, the damage has been done.

There is no way to erase what happened to me. But if you educate people, and provide services to those who need it before any form of abuse happens, everybody wins.

With help from prevention and intervention programs, children don’t have traumatic experiences, parents don’t face legal action and siblings see that parents want help. When kids get older and have their own kids, they’ll know what to do when times get tough. Knowing where to go, what to do and how to get help is half the battle.

The good news is that now all 16 of us look out for each other. We’ll make sure our kids are brought up safely. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but we support each other. We’re a family. It would have been nice to have that when I was a kid.

You can help make a difference. I hope you’ll go to stopchildabusetoday.org and make a donation. A gift of any amount helps fund programs that focus on:

  • Preventing abuse by educating and supporting at-risk families.
  • Identifying and stopping sexual and physical abuse.
  • Healing children and families after abuse has happened.

Kids need to have happy and healthy lives while they’re still kids. Preventing child abuse means everybody wins.

~ Jennifer Stephens, child abuse survivor, guest blogger

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