Erin Merryn

At age six, Erin experienced sexual abuse for the first time by a neighbor at a friend’s sleepover. Just a few weeks shy of her seventh birthday in 1992, Erin was raped by the same person. Threatened and scared, Erin went to bed every night crying, having nightmares, afraid to tell anyone what had happened to her. When she moved, at the age of eight, she thought her suffering was finally over; however, that wasn’t the case. She was repeatedly sexually abused and threatened in the same way by a family member from ages eleven to thirteen. Despite these years of trials, she began a crusade her senior year of high school, in 2004, to end the silence and shame around sexual abuse. After turning her childhood diary into a book called Stolen Innocence, which she began writing in at age eleven, she started speaking at high schools, colleges, sexual assault centers, child abuse conferences, and community events. Her mission is to take the shame off of victims of sexual abuse and empower them to speak up against it, and to educate the public about the frequent abuse that children experience everywhere. In January of 2010, Erin initially drafted a law called “Erin’s Law” which was first signed into Illinois Law on Feb 14, 2011 and is passed in over half of the country. Erin’s Law requires public schools to implement an age-appropriate prevention oriented child sexual abuse program for children in pre-K through 12th grade. This includes education on safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets, unsafe secrets, and how to get away from and report abuse. Erin has also written three books, which recount her painful experiences and focus on self-discovery, empowerment and forgiveness to help other victims overcome the traumas that they have suffered and to live fearlessly.