Erin Merryn is often quite correctly called a voice for the voiceless. She is an author, an activist, a speaker, a wife, a mother, and the lady behind Erin’s Law. Erin has been named by the Glamour Magazine in 2012 as Woman of the Year. She has also been applauded by PEOPLE Magazine as a Hero Among us and one of fifteen women bringing positive change in the world in 2014. Erin Merryn is the author of Stolen Innocence, Living for Today and An Unimaginable Act. TV host Katie Couric said Erin Merryn is the Woman of the Year because…“She’s taken her personal crusade and turned it into a public one. So many children will be protected because of her.”
Painful Story of Erin Merryn
At the tender age of 6, Erin Merryn was asked by her best friend to a sleepover at her residence. This sleepover turned into a lifelong nightmare for Erin as in the middle of the night, she was sexually abused by her friend’s uncle. This was the beginning of her torture. Before she turned seven, she was raped by that man. This abuse went on till the age of 8. A scared child, Erin didn’t say a word to anyone about her abuse and suffered silently. Then, she along with her parents and sisters moved to another town, closer to the family. Erin’s trauma with her friend’s uncle ended. But another nightmare was waiting for her.
“Little did I realize, that by moving, I was getting that much closer to the next perpetrator in my life,” – Erin Merryn
At the age of 11, Erin again faced sexual abuse. This time, it was her cousin, to whom she considered as her elder brother. She was asked to keep quiet and made to believe that no one would trust her if she said anything and also she had no proof. So, she poured out her thoughts and feelings in her little pink diary. When Erin turned 13 she discovered an ugly truth. She found out her little sister of 11, was being abused by the same cousin. She decided to speak out. The next day the two girls told their parents. Their mom was devastated. Their parents helped them. Both sisters were brought to a Children’s Advocacy Center where they narrated their ordeal to complete strangers, which they didn’t expect.
But both of them bravely told their stories. Their cousin was brought into the police station and he confessed. Erin decided to forgive him. “Forgiving him did not mean what he did was right,” “Forgiving him allowed me to move forward with my life and decide to no longer let this thing be something I should be ashamed of, no longer allowing it to be a negative in my life, but letting it be a positive.” She started her life afresh by reading her little pink diary. The trauma she never wanted to recount, she now wrote in a book to help others like herself. Her first book Stolen Innocence was published as a result of her desire to give a voice to the voiceless.
Once while she was reading her childhood diary she noticed something. It was about an officer coming to her school to sensitize kids about stranger danger. “They don’t warn us about our own family, they don’t teach us that in school,” she wrote in her diary at the age of 12. Erin Merryn felt the strong need to teach kids about the danger from family members and other trusted people. She believed 93% sex assaults on kids are by those they know and trust. So she began her fight to bring this hidden topic in the light and urge every state in the USA to start an awareness program against child sex-abuse. It aims at teaching parents and teachers to identify the signs of sexual abuse. Kids from Kindergarten through twelfth grades are taught techniques to acknowledge the abuse and report it to a trusted adult. Erin Merryn who belongs to Chicago first introduced the legislation in Illinois, and the bill was given her name. Soon, “Erin’s Law” became popular throughout the country. Illinois became the first state to implement Erin’s Law.
Erin Merryn’s story inspired people not just in her own country but in other countries as well. As a result, a number of kids came forward to speak up about their abuse, and several predators were jailed. This, in turn, inspires Erin to continue speaking about herself and encourage people to leave behind their past and move on in life by acknowledging what happened.