Child Sexual Abuse Prevention & Education

Welcome to Speak4Change.  That is what I do.  I speak about my childhood, being a survivor of child sexual abuse from the age of 4 years old.  My name  is Svava Brooks and I am born and raised in Iceland.  I now live in California with my husband and 3 kids.  It is a long story how I got to this place and I will tie the story into my posts over the next few weeks and months.

Change is what happens when people realize that they can talk about the issue of child sexual abuse and still feel like they can do something about it.  My goal here is to be an example of how and when to talk about the issue of child sexual abuse and how we can prevent it.  My main message is always prevention.

Child sexual abuse prevention starts by accepting responsibility for what you can do in your family and community to prevent this from happening.   Each one of us has tremendous power that can influence the lives and well being of so many people!

I chose to stop the cycle of violence in my family by speaking up.  It changed my life!  Once I started talking about my abuse, I started to heal.  If I can do it, so can you.  I believe in you!  It is a long hard process to heal from child sexual abuse but it can be done.  On this site you will find information about child sexual abuse prevention, what you can do to become educated about this issue, some of the facts about child sexual abuse and how you can talk about child sexual abuse and where you can go for help.

Why do we resist talking about it?

Probably because we are talking about sex and then abuse.  Again and again I hear from people saying that they don’t know how to talk about it.  It makes them feel uncomfortable, scared and even angry.  I have a great deal of compassion for people when it comes to this topic.  I have watched family, friends and strangers stand in confusion, and discomfort when I start speaking openly about my childhood.  I do understand!  They are having a normal human reaction to something that is uncomfortable, scary and sad.

What we humans do when we are put in a place of not knowing what to do, we get upset.  We get angry, frustrated, scared and threatened or defensive.  The first thing to do is to simply understand what is happening; you are having a normal human reaction.  Then to realize it is OK, to feel this way.   The third thing is to look up the facts and get educated anyway.  We can not fix a problem if we do not understand how it happens or why it happens?

The good news is that there is so much we can do to prevent child sexual abuse.  And much of it is really just common sense.  It is just new to us, that is all!  It takes a commitment, like anything new we take on or want to change, we have to commit to a new way of being or seeing things, ask the right questions, get out of our comfort zone and choose to be brave for the sake of all children.

To learn more about prevention and how to get educated please join me at www.educate4change.com

Please share with me if you know about a book or a web site that has helped you. Working together we can all make a difference.  Thank you for visiting this site!

Svava

Testimony

I enthusiastically recommend Svava Brooks as a speaker on the topic of child sexual abuse.  Her professionalism, compassion, sensitivity, and expertise make her one of the most dynamic and compelling speakers I have ever worked with.  I am confident that Svava will be an asset to any training venue as an expert, and as a survivor, on this important topic.

Katie Jacquet

Training Coordinator, Center for Community Solutions San Diego, CA 2007

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30 Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Prevention & Education

  1. Mike Skinner says:

    Hello Svava,

    Well done and well said with all that you have posted at your website – good for you and good for the world!!! Please visit http://www.mskinnermusic.com You will see that we are on the same page in so many respects to our speaking out.

    take care, Mike

  2. Mary Ann Ford says:

    Hi Svava,

    I am so impressed with the work that you have done to prevent child sexual abuse and am thrilled and honored to be able to contribute a small amount to further the cause of spreading the word.

    As a mother of a 9 year old daughter and an aunt to an 8 year old nephew, I am astounded by the statistics that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18! We all need to do what we can to stop this epidemic, and I hope folks who read your story will be inspired to donate to the cause- with money, time or words. We can all- at the very least- speak out and make it known that we will not stand for this assault on our kids- by anyone- even those closest to them!!)

    Your positive and hopeful attitude is a testament to the hard work that you have done to recover. You are truly a beacon of light on a very dark subject and I am certain that your efforts are not only saving children, but changing the world.

    All the best,
    Mary Ann

  3. sarah says:

    I can’t wait to explore this blog!

  4. I wrote and published a book on December 1, 2005 titled “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!).” This story is about hope, overcoming obstacles, and making choices in the face of adversity. More concretely, it is about child abuse and how the protagonist, a young girl named Anastasia, comes to terms with it.

    The purpose of this story is to reach out to as many people as possible, to present hope, to inspire, and to encourage those who have been unfortunate to have experienced unfair adversity in their life. I appear to have been successful in that goal. Here are some excerpts from reviews . . .

    This is a moving story about one girl’s journey to find feelings of self-esteem and self-worth.
    — Jill Zimmerman Rutledge, LCSW, author of Dealing With The Stuff That Makes Life Tough: The Ten Things That Stress Girls Out and How To Cope With Them

    This short but potent tale is indeed the story of a young girl, Anastasia’s, metamorphosis out of the smothering and woundedness caused by cruelty and abuse. … Perhaps this unique story will touch many lives … Perhaps this story will bring one person into a life of more fun and less pain!
    — Review by Viviane Crystal, Member of Reviewers International Organization

    … I couldn’t put the book down until I completely finished it on the back cover. It is so down to earth, so well versed I could feel times that I was “Anastasia.” Reading the words, but the brain saying “you’ve been there” too.
    — Emily Schuessler, Customer, Ontario

    “Anastasia and the Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!)” is a book with a purpose, namely to inspire readers to overcome whatever challenges they may face … It’s an unusual book … this book is meant to serve as a blinking arrow penetrating the darkness to point you toward the light that lies at the end of your own personal tunnel, and I think it succeeds very well in doing just that.
    — Daniel Jolley, one of Amazon.com’s Top 50 Reviewers

    “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl” is about hope and overcoming obstacles that you will read and re-read, and will be a classic treasured by generations to come.
    — Florence Starr, Customer, and Founder of The Home For The Aged in Fernie, BC

    “‘Who am I?’ is a question that many people of many ages ask – it is the first question of the story. Anastasia asked this of herself over and over; of course, life is properly a process of discovery, and this can take place at different times and in different ways for each individual. … This book shows a creative spark and an intense desire to share with others. … this is Wladichuk’s first book … A good premier effort.
    — FrKurt Messick, one of Amazon.com’s Top 50 Reviewers

    I appreciated the simplicity of this very complex story … I read the book 3 times within a 24 hour period and each time I was forced outside my comfort zone and caused to remember and experience again my own journey to self-actualization. … Thank you for sharing this story with me.

    — Tom Jones, Customer who also put his review on Amazon

    Child abuse, of course, is not restricted to any one particular segment of society, so I am contacting various groups and organizations with the intention of inspiring others who have suffered unfair adversity. Please take a moment to visit my website at http://www.ghostlyowl.com to read excerpts from “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!)” and to see what reviewers and customers are saying about my book.

    This is the only book that is available which does not describe the horrific details of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. If you are looking for a book that does not do this, then “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!)” is the book for you!

    Thank you so much for your assistance.

    Sincerely

    Anita E. Wladichuk, Author

    “Anastasia and The Ghostly Owl (The Choice Was Hers!)”

    Ghostly Owl Publishing Company

    Suite 479, 104-1015 Columbia Street

    New Westminster, BC V3M 6V3

    Canada

    Email: anastasia@ghostlyowl.com

    Website: http://www.ghostlyowl.com

  5. Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gretchen Paules and I am the Administrative Director for a newly formed nonprofit called the Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation. Our mission at LGLPCI is to help heal and support adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse worldwide. We are actively seeking adult survivors who would be willing to post their childhood photo & caption, their story, or their creative expressions to our website http://www.letgoletpeacecomein.org. We also have a youtube video that can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4PDC03Gl2k. By uniting survivors from around the globe we hope to provide a stronger and more powerful voice to those survivors who have not yet found the courage to speak out or have been cast aside with disbelief. Through increased awareness

    I am writing to you today to ask you to please consider posting to our website. It is through the support of courageous survivors like you that we will succeed in our effort to help one survivor at a time. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me directly at gretchen@letgoletpeacecomein.org. Together we can; together we should; together we NEED to stand up and be counted.

    Warmest Regards,
    Gretchen Paules
    Administrative Director
    Let Go…Let Peace Come In Foundation
    630 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 180
    Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

  6. Erin Merryn says:

    Keep up the great work and spreading awareness! The more people on board the better! :)

    Erin Merryn

  7. Edward says:

    I just followed you on Twitter called from mine “Road to Recovery” and wanted to introduce myself. I am a survivor of Sexual, Physical and Mental abuse. I have a blog where I discuss what and where I am on my path. I would love for you to look at it and share your comments. I even signed up with another site to become a speaker. Please take a moment and view it.

    http://heavyroadtorecovery.blogspot.com

    Thank You
    Edward

  8. Marco Cota says:

    I have been a therapist since 1975 and have one very crucial concern. Before I give my speel I am 100 percent convinced that the only way to help prevent sex abuse is by high awareness and much better diligence in protecting our children. Stiff laws and after the fact anger does not help prevent abuse. I do agree offenders need permanent incarceration.
    I have never had a more stronger belief in that we Americans have failed at protecting our children due to the ease of life in the USA. We cannot believe that our own child someday would be sexually abused. We cannot believe that Predators exist in such numbers as they really do here in the USA. With this thinking we have become lax in protecting our children at the parental level. By no means do I blame the parent for their child being abused. The facts are that we know the Predator is in every walk of life but we do not take it as seriously as we should beforehand. We do become very vindictive and angry AFTER the fact a child has been abused. Its time we realize we have an ugly enemy in front of us that we have to fight everyday by prevention awareness.
    Children currently do not turn in their abuser immediately. Children are learners and it is okay to inform them of inappropriate behavior beforehand. These educated aware children would react, turn in the abuser immediately. It is Okay to educate children of sex abuse and what to report. You have to ask, what is better, a permanently damaged child, or a captured predator?
    Finally mothers need to be much more diligent in their protection responsibilty, even if they have to be insultingly protective to others. My case studies show that most abused children were left alone and not properly supervised. The mothers had been overly trusting.

    I am Marco Cota author of Predator Down, a sex abuse prevention book for Men.

  9. Marco Cota says:

    Dear Katie, I want to Personaly thank you for this courageous letter and page. I am absolutely in 100 percent agreement with you on taking the stance of PREVENTION. I am personaly disturbed, but not blaming all the current after the fact anger and hatred when we hear of sex abuse cases. I kindly step in and take the position that a great number of cases could have been preventive if we had been doing instead of talking. We know the Predator exists, so we have to do something not talk.
    SO what I have done is written a non profit book, all proceeds go to abused children and Children International, this Book is about Prevention and is mostly directed at Men but anyone reading it will be able to get on the Wagon of Prevention.
    I am impressed here with what you have done, this is what we need at the highest priority. What most people like Nancy Grace and Geraldo do not know is that when we become angery and filled with hate, the Predators are laughing, made to feel superior, and they are challenged to do more crimes. It is time we become Progressive and fight crime intelligently so we can control the Predator and stop the Predator from controlling us. Gracias!! Marco Cota Predator Down

    • Marco

      I know this is quite dated, so I apologize. If by chance you read this, I would be interested in sharing your thoughts, information about your book, etc. with my readers, if you are so inclined.

  10. Patrick says:

    I am a gay male survivor of childabuse and bullying.
    Please take two minutes to read my story and few my recent interview on abuse and bullying. Another young boy killed himself a few week’s due to gay bullying and we need to stop this. Tell me if you would be interested helping me to help other victims.

    Statistics show that most boys and men do not come forward about the abuse out of fear. I was one of those statistics but after years of depression and attempts with suicide I decided it was time to tell my story. Now I want to help others who suffer and show them there is hope check out my website at http://www.youandmecanstopbullies.com it gives full details on my media and speaking events.

    Below is my story of childhood abuse and bullying. I am a survivor and want to help others heal as I did from my trauma and show them there is hope. Please tell me if you can help.

    Bullying is a hot issue right now because kids are committing suicide at a high rate because of this matter. Would you like to be a part of putting an end to it? I hope so please take a minute and read my story.

    I’m writing to ask you if you would be interested in helping me on talking about my life and family bullying, specifically bullying of a younger brother by an older brother who was always ordered by his mother to watch over his younger brother. My older brother was also straight and sensed and hated the fact that I was gay. He knew it long before I knew it myself.

    I grew up in a devout tight-knit Catholic family on the northwest side of Chicago. My dad was Italian and my mom, Irish. I was the youngest of 5 kids: 3 boys and two girls. One Saturday when I was nine I was raped by a man in the bathroom of a department store. I was so traumatized by the experience that I ran home and hid in the closet of my room. When my brother found me there, he beat me up because I left him while he was supposed to be watching over me. But after being raped and threatened with death if I told, I was terrified and just ran home and hid. Of course, my brother didn’t know what had happened to me and I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell anyone about it for 35 years. It was the first secret I ever kept from my mom, and it was a secret I kept from everyone.

    A few years or so later I was at a friend’s house and the neighborhood was suddenly surrounded by cops. The commotion scared my friend’s mom so she made us stay in the house. She turned on the television to try to find out what was going on, and it was then that I saw the face of the man who had raped me. It was John Wayne Gacy. He lived in my friend’s neighborhood, and they captured him that day. Recognizing him terrified me and brought back all the horror of the rape, but I still didn’t reveal my secret. After the rape, I was depressed and went into hiding. I sort of disappeared, sort of went to sleep. I became someone who just tried to please his family and friend. I just tried to be what they expected and wanted me to be.

    As I gradually realized I was gay, memories of the rape helped me bury my real self deeper. I spent the next 35 years of my life trying to be what my family and friends expected me to be. I hid so well, I didn’t even know who I was. During that time I married twice and had a daughter in one of my marriages. Both women I married were abusive. I was drawn to, attracted to abusive people. I wanted to love them, and I wanted them to love me, and though that was impossible, it didn’t stop me from trying.

    As I grew older and my passion for men increased I gradually, slowly, and secretly, sneaked into gay life. I met two good, beautiful men who loved me and wanted me to be with them, but I couldn’t come out. I couldn’t tell my family. I couldn’t be who I was making believe I was. Then, later, when I finally did come out, I chose, what else?– a bully. He bullied me so much mentally that I tried to commit suicide twice. Using my credit cards, he buried me in debt for years after I finally left him. He also abused me physically.

    Then, mysteriously, after several years, I met an old friend I worked with. We became best friends. We talked and talked about our lives, which turned out to be similar, too similar. Gradually, I began to see and understand my life. I started writing my life story and as I wrote I saw more and more and so I kept revising my story.

    I had moved back home with my family after leaving my abusive first gay lover. One Sunday night, as I was about to leave my friend’s house and go home, my mom called and asked me to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. She was playing cards with my abusive brother and other family members. Because I didn’t have identification on me, the scene at the liquor store became a disaster. I had to call my brother to come pick me up and buy the wine. For some reason, my bullying brother overreacted. When we got home, his anger just exploded. He called me a fag, told me he hated me, and threatened to kill me. I was so frightened and traumatized by it that I packed a bag, left the house, and called my friend to pick me up. When I got to his house, we talked. That experience with my abusive brother was so similar to my rape, even including the threat of death, that I finally woke up. I finally began to see everything differently. I felt myself begin to change, to be myself.

    I’ve written my story. I want to publish it, and my goal is to become a public speaker to help other people who have been bullied by older brothers…people who have experience what I experienced. I know I can help them. If they haven’t seen it, I want to make them see it. If they are still dealing with the effects of it, I want to help them get over it. There are too many people who experienced it, but don’t even know it happened. Sibling bullying seems so normal no one pays attention to it, no one recognizes it. My mom and dad thought my relationship with my bullying brother was normal. They had no idea of the pain I was suffering because I didn’t tell them. I was hiding, and I was a kid.

    Do consider helping me get my material in front of the right person or even turning into to a story so the public can hear my story and see there is a true chance for survival. The book proposal is completed and the manuscript is being reworked. In addition University of Illinois college professor Dorothy Espelage an expert on bullying has agreed to endorse book (please google her). I look forward to hearing back from you.

    E: dati_patrick@yahoo.com

  11. Truth says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m on a similar journey

  12. Bonnie Wyckoff says:

    Please join me in seeking consequences for covering up child rape. Sign my pettion at http://www.Change.org/petitions/ncaa-suspend-football-at-penn-state-for-10-years

    (Copy and paste to your browser)

    Suspend football at Penn State for 10 years

    Greetings,

    I just signed the following petition addressed to: Ncaa.

    —————-
    Suspend football at Penn State for 10 years

    The NCAA needs to send the message that the safety/well being of children is much more important than football and the money gained from it. Former FBI director Louis Freeh has more than proven that at least four top Penn State officals covered up repeated Child Rape for more than 10 years to protect their football/money making program. Will it take an additional decade for Penn State to rebuild their program once sanctions are lifted? Let’s hope so, but those children will spend the rest of their lives trying to rebuild their spirits & self esteem. They are forever changed. Optimistically, a strong sanction will forever change Penn State to an institution of learning and personal growth first and foremost.
    —————-

    Sincerely,

    Bonnie Wyckoff

  13. Lynsey says:

    Hello svava. I would like to applaud you in sharing your story, as I am very aware that it takes a lot of courage to be able to speak up about it. I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. I have started to put Awareness out there, in our community to Stop the cycle of sexual abuse and the response has been big. I have also started a support group, and with that comes, self defence classes and councilors, etc. I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you, Please keep sharing and take care.

    Lynsey.

    • Svava says:

      Thank you Lynsey for your comment, your sharing and for breaking the silence. Also for providing a place of healing and support for other survivors. We are stronger together! Love and Light.

  14. The book The Ticet is a children’s book that gives children a tool to safely get out of sexualabuse!

  15. “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention – Speak4Change.
    com” was in fact a wonderful article. If merely there were even
    more web blogs such as this particular one on the actual net.
    Anyways, thank you for ur precious time, Justina

  16. Ralp Ubod says:

    Your positive and hopeful attitude is proof of the effort you have completed to recover. You’re a classic beacon of sunshine on the very dark subject and i’m to efforts are not only seen saving children, but altering the planet. medford oregon attorneys

  17. Fredrick Blanken says:

    Svava:

    Thank you, and bless you for the gift you have been in my life. Know that as a fellow survivor/thriver WE are doing what we can to share the vision you so beautifully express that “WE ARE ALONE NO MORE!!!”

    With much Love;
    Fredrick L. Blanken/ShadowPanther

  18. Simon w. says:

    thanks so much for all you do and for your help with supporting male survivors of childhood sexual abuse, by bringing our film Boys and Men Healing to our community!

    • Svava says:

      Thank you for your note and all that you do. My motto is that we are stronger together! Happy to support all that you do.

      Love and Light,
      Svava

  19. brokenpast says:

    We are not alone, but we feel it many times, raise awareness together. I was abused as a small boy about the age of 6, and again in my teens. I too am blogging about it to both raise awareness and get it off my chest.

    1 in 6 males and 1 in 4 females have unwanted/nonconsensual sexual experiences before the age of 18

    • Svava says:

      Thank you for your note and for all that you do. Yes, we do feel alone a lot. When we choose to break the cycle of silence, we heal! We also give other survivors permission and the model they need to see, to talk about what happened to them and how to ask for help. Together we heal, together we are stronger. Thank you again for your voice. I do appreciate you! I hope you share your journey with us in the Childhood Sexual Trauma Community at cst.onehealth.com

      Stronger together!

  20. Melissa says:

    I myself have been a victim of bullying, & sexual abuse. I started trying to speak out on my acts as well YouTube, Twitter & insgagram. I know how hard it can be to say things out loud & put yourself out there for judgement. I think you are so brave & an inspiration to us all. keep it up!

    • Svava says:

      Thank you Melissa for your comment. It is so awesome that you are speaking out. We need more people to do so, when they are ready. Thank you for all that you are doing.
      We are stronger together!

  21. Svava:

    I am not a trained expert in this field, but I believe we as parents/adults need to do a better job of engaging and asking our children questions related to sex abuse. I feel like…nobody wants to bring the subject up for a variety of reasons…but that ultimately our personal discomfort is no reason to overlook taking the steps that needed to address these issues.

    If you have a desire to provide us with a guest post about how parents/adults should speak to children about the issues of sex abuse and molestation in an age appropriate, that would be fantastic. Or perhaps, you can direct me to a source that I can link to for my readers.

    Thanks.

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  23. Justin says:

    Hello Svava, I need your help please. I have a friend in Iceland who was recently the victim of a very violent sexual assault. Not child abuse, as a teen. She is having trouble finding any support groups near Akureyri, Iceland. She lives about 20 minutes from there. It’s somewhat isolated where she is. She really needs some help and it appears there isn’t much available in Iceland for victims. She even has to still see her attacker nearly every day at school. It’s torture for her. Please Please help me help her!!

    • Svava says:

      Hi Justin, Thank you for reaching out. Here is a phone nr for her to reach out to. This is in Akureyri.
      Brekkugata 34
      600 Akureyri
      Phone. 461 5959
      cell phone. 857 5959
      Also the web site for this crisis center for victims of sexual assault is. http://aflidak.is

      Hope this helps you to help your friend.

      Kindly
      Svava

  24. This is an incredibly inspiring initiative Svava. I discovered you on FB and then clicked through to this website and am filled with JOY that you are sharing your story and helping whom every you possibly can as you journey through life.
    After 16 years living abroad and pretty much running as fast as I could from myself I returned to South Africa and met with my step farther, the man who sexually abused me from the age of 12 until I was 16. That meeting set me free in ways I had not realised I was trapped by. I too am using my life and my experiences in breaking the silence around sexual abuse within families to do what I can to shed as much light on this subject that Thrives only in the dark and in silence.
    I’m sharing a little of my story here with you. Please feel free to share it and use it any time you can to help others who might have an opportunity to face their perpetrators or if you think it might help in any way.
    https://www.facebook.com/tanya.monteiro/posts/10151929806587890?notif_t=like

    With respect and love,
    Tanya

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