The conversations of the last few people still finding a seat in the crowd hush.
I feel a shift in the room and lean forward in my chair. Maybe it was Andrea’s police officer’s uniform. Or maybe they sense how serious this is, too?
Andrea catches and holds a few gazes before continuing. “Most children are abused by someone they know. We must empower children with the knowledge to protect themselves. Who can tell me what a pederast is?”
My heart starts to race and I slowly raise my hand. “A man who desires sex with teenage boys.”
“And who taught you that?”
“You did,” I say and fold my hands over my stomach to prepare for the story. Even though I’ve already heard it, I know the impact of it will be the same the second time. Some things never get easier.
Andrea nods and returns to the podium. The growl in her voice as she starts the story isn’t aggression; it is an assertion of her authority on the subject, alerting adults to the motivations of sex offenders and the great lengths they will go to in gaining access to a child. Andrea has witnessed the horrors of what pedophiles can and will do to children.
I look across at the row of men and women in front of me. Faces are ashen. Heads are bowed. The events being described are raw and sickening.
The first time Andrea shared this story of child abuse during a Protective Behaviours training workshop, I had no idea where to put it in my brain. I didn’t want to recall it, but like so many other stories, it deepened my motivation to stop the abuse from happening again.
Listening to Andrea is like training with a heavyweight instructor. Knees begin to buckle. Hearts grow weary hearing her extensive knowledge of predatory behaviors and horrific stories of child sex abuse. But we stay and bear the burden. We are also challenged to speak out against the apathy in society. Children are taught to trust and respect adults, and conditioned to do as they are told. No wonder there’s an epidemic…
Photo by Jamie O’Brien. Used with permission.
Excerpt from the Starfish Singers Book by Christine G. Camp – A Mission to Protect and Serve