Sexual abuse survivor visits Vero Beach to promote awareness
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Last week, a survivor of physical and sexual abuse took to the streets of Vero Beach to bring her advocacy message to the forefront of conversation.
Lauren Book, a nationally recognized advocate for sexually abused children and founder of the nonprofit, Lauren's Kids, stopped in Vero Beach on March 28 as part of her 1,500 mile journey across the state to raise awareness of sexual abuse and encourage other victims to speak about their experiences.
Her stop in Vero Beach was at the county tax collector's office. Tax Collector Carole Jean Jordan said Ms. Book's story and mission is incredible and needs to be shared.
"She is an amazing young lady and she and her dad have made something positive out of what could have been so debilitating to her," Ms. Jordan said.
Ms. Book was a victim of sexual abuse for six years at the hands of a female nanny. Her book, "It's OK to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery," tells the physical and sexual abuse she went through and the process with which she mustered the courage to talk about it.
"Childhood sexual abuse is something people don't want to talk about, but we need to bring awareness about it to the public," Ms. Jordan said. "I'm sure there are children just like her (in Indian River County) who have left home or been kicked out of their home for something just like this."
The walk will conclude in Tallahassee where Ms. Book will seek a change in state law through House Bill 7031 that would make an out-of-court statement from older child victims of sexual abuse a stronger tool in trials against their alleged abusers.
She is also pursuing a change in school curriculum for the cause. Instead of only having the kindergarten classes learn about abuse prevention, she wants to see the curriculum to expand to grades one through five, incorporating topics such as bullying and Internet safety, a press release said.
On her website, Ms. Book has a special section for video interviews produced by her organization with experts on child abuse issues. Each week of her walk, she will post new videos focusing on various aspects of child sexual abuse, including signs of abuse, pedophile tactics, prevalence and healing education and prevention, and more.
April is national sexual assault awareness month and this year's national theme is focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse.
For more information about Lauren's Kids or Ms. Book's walk, visit www.laurenskids.org.