This is going to be a long entry, but I hope you can take the time to read it.
Last year my friend and I were signed up to for the St. George marathon. During the time that we were waiting to hear if we got in, we started discussing raising money and running for a charity. I was really excited about it. I wasn’t sure about the cause I wanted to support, so I started looking for different organizations that I would possibly run for. There were several that came up like, the Red Cross, The Breast Cancer Foundation, and Feeding America, that I was interested in. Although they were all great charities and organizations, I just didn’t feel personally connected to them, and I felt that I would need that in order have the drive to go out of my way and fund raise. I eventually came across a nonprofit call The Innocence Mission. They are a nonprofit dedicated to raising public awareness of childhood sexual abuse. I went through their site and eventually contacted the founder of the organization. After talking with her I knew that this was the charity I wanted to run for. Unfortunately I was not selected to run the St. George marathon and my plans fell through.
My whole life I have felt a connection with abused children. Even though I wouldn’t be running the marathon for The Innocence Mission, I wanted to find a way to help those kids. I started doing more research about organizations like The Innocence Mission that helped sexually abused children. I found several, but most of them focused on raising public awareness and not necessarily on helping abuse victims get treatment. After all the research I did, I realized that was the kind of organization I really wanted to help, was one that not only tried to raise public awareness, but also directly helped victimized children. Although the organizations and charities I found had noble causes, I was unable to find one that directly helped the children obtain treatment or counseling.
In order to learn more, I started contacting counseling centers and clinics in the Utah area to find out if there was a need for an organization whose goal was not only to raise public awareness, but to financially help childhood sexual abuse victims get the counseling and treatment they truly require. I heard back from a director from a nearby center that informed me that they see 20 to 30 children who were victims of sexual abuse per month. I was shocked. I really couldn’t believe the number of kids. 20 to 30 just at this one clinic! There are over 10 clinics in Utah and Salt lake county. That’s 200 to 300 kids per month! She went on to say that many would have to pay for the counseling out-of-pocket because most insurance companies wouldn’t cover the costs and because of the government budget cuts, those on Medicaid would no longer be covered for the service. She said that the need was great. I knew I needed to do something. I continued to research the topic and the requirements to start a nonprofit to meet the need that the director spoke of.
Did you know that by the time a child reaches the age of 16, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced some kind of sexual abuse? The crazy thing is that those numbers are only based on reported cases. Dr. Susan Forward, one of the nation’s leading therapists, said that "Ninety percent of sexual abuse victims never tell." Did you know that if abuse goes untreated, it can potentially lead to depression, low self-esteem, guilt, blaming oneself, difficulty trusting other, relationship problem, and fear of intimacy later in life for the victim? The more I researched and read, the more gut-wrenching what I learned became. I read a few victims’ personal experiences and it made my insides ache. I cannot describe the feeling I would get when I would read these experiences. The thing that affected me the most was the thought that ninety percent of the victims never told anyone. Ninety percent kept the pain to themselves. Ninety percent might still think it’s their fault. Ninety percent might still be in pain.
Can you imagine if you were one of these young boys or girls that were sexually abused? Can you imagine the pain and fear? Can you imagine blaming yourself for something that wasn’t your fault? Can you imagine being too afraid to tell anyone who was close to you because you were afraid of what they would think? Can you imagine the loneliness you would feel? No child deserves that! No one deserves to have their childhood robbed from them! Children should be running around, playing sports, barbies, worrying about whether so-and-so from class likes them, they should not have to deal with the pain and guilt from being abused!
I have seen the pain and anguish that childhood sexual abuse can cause. I have seen the effect that it can have on someone’s adulthood. The problem is real and I knew that something needed to be done about it. We as a society can’t just swept it under the rug and pretend like it’s not happening, because it is. We cannot be so hush-hush about it because it is such an ugly and painful topic. I didn’t know how much of a difference I could make, but I felt like I needed to do something; and if I could make a difference in one child’s life, it would be worth it.
All of this lead to my desire to form a non-profit charity with the objective of raising public awareness about this terrible epidemic and helping victims of childhood sexual abuse receive the support and help they need. Over the past several months, and with the help of a few close friends and family members, I have been able to take the necessary steps to establish such an organization. I am happy to announce that we have formed the non-profit Run for Innocence. Like I said before, I am not sure what will come from this organization, but I hope it will be a lot of good. We hope we can help as many victims of childhood sexual abuse as we can. We hope we can raise awareness and teach prevention strategies to parents and children. I hope we can make a difference. With everyone’s help, I know we can.
Please take a minute to visit our website at www.runforinnocence.org. If you are interested, you can donate right there, any amount will help our cause. If you have any questions or are interested in helping in other ways, please let me know.
Join us in our fight to end childhood sexual abuse in our society and to create a better world for our children!
Thanks for reading,