Awareness

I saved this post for today because I didn't want people to think I was kidding around (on April Fool's Day yesterday) when I talked about two issues that are important. I am choosing this time to talk about the issues because April is the awareness month for both.


Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. Information and education surrounding child abuse is important to me as I am a social worker with Child Protective Services in NC. I am faced with the realities of child abuse and neglect each day on t
he job. I can only speak on the laws that govern child abuse and neglect in NC, but I am sure they are similar from State to State. For NC, the number one thing to remember is that all citizens are mandated reporters, not just those medical professionals, counselors, or teachers. Anyone who suspects child abuse, neglect, or dependency should contact their local Department of Social Services (DSS) to make a report.

For more information on the signs of child maltreatment and steps to making a report, go to the Prevent Child Abuse NC website at 

(Click on the Child Abuse Info & Statistics tab and scroll to the bottom of the page)

To learn more about the NC Statutes the govern child abuse, neglect and dependency, go to the NC General Statutes website at  

(Under "Look-Up" type in 7B)


Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is also sexual assault awareness month. A survivor/victim of sexual assault may find it difficult to talk about or seek help after such a violation to her/his body, mind, and spirit ; however, there are many resources that are available to help those who have been a victim of sexual assault. Again, this issue is important to me as I worked for several years at an agency that provided support, counseling, and safety to survivors of sexual assault and rape. There is help available, and there are people who are ready to hear your story as well as share their own stories in effort to begin the healing process.

For more information about sexual assault and rape assistance resources in NC, go to the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault website at 


Other resources that are located in the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) of NC that offer counseling, support, awareness are as follows:

Interact (Raleigh, NC) - http://www.interactofwake.org
Durham Crisis Response Center (Durham, NC) - http://www.durhamcrisisresponse.org
Orange County Rape Crisis Center (Chapel Hill, NC) - http://www.ocrcc.org

1 comment:

  1. My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn't a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quite, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island.

    I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 34 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

    In the time between the night of my assault and the night he was murdered, I lived in fear. I was afraid he was still around town. Afraid he was looking for me. Afraid he would track me down and kill me. The fear didn’t go away when he was murdered. Although he was no longer a threat, the simple life and innocence of a 14-year-old boy was gone forever. Carefree childhood thoughts replaced with the unrelenting realization that my world wasn’t a safe place. My peace shattered by a horrific criminal act of sexual violence.

    Over the past 34 years, I’ve been haunted by horrible, recurring memories of what he did to me. He visits me in my sleep. There have been dreams–nightmares actually–dozens of them, sweat inducing, yelling-in-my-sleep nightmares filled with images and emotions as real as they were when it actually happened. It doesn’t get easier over time. Long dead, he still visits me, silently sneaking up from out of nowhere when I least expect it. From the grave, he sits by my side on the couch every time the evening news reports a child abduction or sex crime. I don’t watch America’s Most Wanted or Law and Order SVU, because the stories are a catalyst, triggering long suppressed emotions, feelings, memories, fear and horror. Real life horror stories rip painful suppressed memories out from where they hide, from that recessed place in my brain that stores dark, dangerous, horrible memories. It happened when William Bonin confessed to abducting, raping and murdering 14 boys in California; when Jesse Timmendequas raped and murdered Megan Kanka in New Jersey; when Ben Ownby, missing for four days, and Shawn Hornbeck, missing for four years, were recovered in Missouri.

    Despite what happened that night and the constant reminders that continue to haunt me years later, I wouldn’t change what happened. The animal that attacked me was a serial predator, a violent pedophile trolling my neighborhood in Lincoln, Rhode Island looking for young boys. He beat me, raped me, and I stayed alive. I lived to see him arrested, indicted and murdered. It might not have turned out this way if he had grabbed one of my friends or another kid from my neighborhood. Perhaps he’d still be alive. Perhaps there would be dozens of more victims and perhaps he would have progressed to the point of silencing his victims by murdering them.

    Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, not sharing with anyone the story of what happened to me. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn't my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

    For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace and hope.

    My novel, Men in My Town, was inspired by these actual events. Men in My Town is available now at www.Amazon.com

    For additional information, please visit the Men in My Town blog at www.meninmytown.wordpress.com

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