Gingerbread House Offers Hope
Crin Merryn speaks with authority on a & very uncomfortable topic: child sexual abuse.
the ages of 6 to 8, she was raped by an adult neighbor who threatened
her into silence about the abuse. A few years later, after her parents
moved to a new home, she fell into the clutches of an older teenage
cousin. She suffered at his hands from age 11 to 13; her only avenue to
tell her story was her diary.
is now turning those experiences into positive action. She is engaged
in an effort to persuade all 50 states to pass Erin's Law, mandating all
public schools teach students how to report anyone who sexually abuses
The law requires schools to
use age-appropriate curricula to teach students how to tell on anyone
who touches or attempts to touch their private parts. Nearly 40 states,
including Louisiana, have signed on to the effort. Merryn lobbies
lawmakers to pass the law requiring personal body safety courses in
public schools in grades pre-K through 12.
Merryn is bringing her personal story to Shreveport on Thursday, Nov. 4, when she will be the guest speaker at the Partners in Prevention Luncheon held at Sam's Town Hotel & Casino by The Gingerbread House. The Gingerbread House's mission is to lessen the trauma experienced by child abuse victims while allegations are investigated and to provide support for the victim throughout the investigations, prosecution and treatment phases of the case.
Sheriff Steve Prator has called the Gingerbread House "a godsend for
children, families and the entire criminal justice system. Simply put,
the Gingerbread House is irreplaceable."
community-based 501(c)(3) organization works with abuse victims, law
enforcement, medical professionals and others to investigate, prosecute
and treat child sexual and physical abuse cases. The Gingerbread House
is an accredited Child Advocacy Center with National Children's Alliance
and has served northwest Louisiana for 23 years.
one in 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse before their 18th
birthday. Just over a third of the abuse victims ever disclose the
crime, and some never do. Contrary to the belief of many, only about 10
percent of abused children are victims of a stranger. The rest are
victimized by someone they know.
in the most recent 12-month period, Gingerbread House provided forensic
interviews, multidisciplinary investigations and family advocacy
services for 864 children. One hundred sixty-five child victims of abuse
and their non-offending caregivers received counseling services. Almost
32,000 individuals are reached with information about the services
Gingerbread House offers.
February 2015, the Gingerbread House was selected as one of three
national programs out of 777 child advocacy centers to be highlighted
during the inaugural "50 Stars in 50 States" campaign of the National
Merryn said she
believes everyone is born with a purpose, and she found hers due to the
trauma she endured. Far from being embarrassed by the events, Merryn
said she feels inspired to put a face and a voice on child sexual abuse.
She said she is dedicated to taking the stigma and shame away from
victims and giving survivors the courage to speak up and speak out.
is the author of "Stolen Innocence," "Living for Today" and "An
Unimaginable Act," as well as "Baily No Ordinary Cat:' and "Diary of a
Cat Named Carrot." She was selected 2012 Woman of the Year by Glamour
Magazine. People Magazine selected her as one of the "Heroes Among Us"
in April 2013 and one of 15 women changing the world in their June 2014
Merryn has made numerous
media appearances, including "Oprah," "OWN:' "Today:' "Good Morning
America" and "CBS This Morning," among others.
is married and the mother of three girls of her own with a fourth child
on the way. Her cat is a bit of a celebrity as well, boasting over
280,000 Instagram followers. The cat has helped raise $85,000 for
Merryn's local Children's Advocacy Center.
anyone interested in sponsoring or attending the Partners in Prevention
Luncheon, you should contact the Gingerbread House at (318) 674-2900.
You can email their director of community engagement, Sophia M. Herron,