Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Make a Difference

I love to write. You might say it is my passion. I love words. I love the sound of words. I love putting them together and listening for the music. In a way it’s like putting a puzzle together and making a word picture. I love the color and texture and shape of words. I like how they feel in my mouth and how they slide through the air and how they touch my heart.

It’s really fun when I get paid to write, but that isn’t what drives me. Part of it is the joy and the magic of words. I love how good writing draws people together. The other part is about having a voice, about making a difference. I guess its that part—the making a difference part—that draws me to topics that most intelligent writers would avoid.

About three years ago, I watched a TV talk show about sexual abuse of children and teenagers. Real kids with real stories were interviewed. I was horrified, and I was angry, and I began to write. What I wrote was a children’s story—a picture book—about sexual abuse. It is simple and direct. It speaks of solutions. It gives hope. It encourages children to speak up if they are being violated. It encourages parents and other responsible adults to be watchful. It tells parents what to look for and what to do if the unthinkable is happening to someone they love.

Just as I finished writing my book, I met a gifted artist, named Brandilyn Speth, who shared my passion for making a difference. She was excited about adding her voice to mine in the form of illustrations. I love the clarity that her work brought to my words. Early this spring we felt that it was time to test the market. Because we were dealing with a very sensitive issue, we knew that many publishers would not be comfortable with our book. Thinking of the destructive nature of sexual abuse gave us courage. Wanting to make a difference for children who are being hurt and families that are aching for support and solutions, we decided to move forward.

In early April we sent our manuscript to a carefully chosen publisher. Our manuscript got good reviews. It is being considered for publication. The children’s book director likes the book. He likes the illustrations. He knows there is a need. However, he is concerned about the numbers. How many copies can he sell? I understand his concern. He needs to make a profit. I need to make a difference.

My would-be publisher calls this a “niche” book; meaning that he doesn’t expect it to sell many copies. It fits a small “niche” of the public. I, on the other hand, feel that abuse is rampant and that there is hardly any corner of the earth that has not been touched by sexual abuse. I imagine my book flying off the shelves and into the hands and homes of children who need its message.

Does it surprise you to know that more than 1,100 cases of child sexual abuse are reported everyday? This translates to more than 400,000 cases each year. Ongoing studies continually confirm that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18. Additionally some studies have shown that only 10% of sexually abused children are molested by strangers. One survey showed that "... 50% to 80% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by people they know.”

Clearly we need answers, and we need them now. Children need to be taught that they have rights, that they can say no, and that they can get help. Parents need to know what to watch for and how to respond in a crisis. Both need to know that they are not alone and that they can get help. Our book doesn’t have all the answers but it is a good starting place.

If you think sexual abuse of children is a big deal, I would love to hear from you. Do you see sexual abuse of children as a main stream problem? Is there someone close to you who has been damaged by sexual abuse? How interested would you be in a well written book that addresses this sensitive issue? Would you buy a book like this for yourself? For someone you love? Would you buy it is a gift? Would you buy it only if you were in the midst of a crisis, or would you buy it as preventative education? Feel free to respond anonymously, if that is more comfortable for you. You can also respond to can.u.make.a.difference@gmail.com.

When people ask me questions about my book, they often want to know what age it is written for. My usual response is, “What age is it not written for?” You see, children of every age have been sexually abused. Babies are not exempt, nor are teenagers, or the handicapped, or elderly. Boys as well as girls are sexually abused. Adult men and women may carry scars from childhood sexual abuse, that never fully healed. Our book is simple enough for a parent to read to a young child, yet profound enough to influence a teenager, informative enough to provide help to a troubled parent, and powerful enough to reach out to a wounded adult.

Linda Garner

6 comments:

chelbear said...

I would for sure buy it. Not just because you wrote it, but because i believe it is important to teach my boys about sexual abuse and I think your book is a wonderful resource to do just that. I am excited for you and hope that you will hear soon what the decision is!

hgr said...

I can't wait for a copy of your book! I will definately buy it. I will share it first with my own children, and then buy gifts for others as well. Some members of my husband's family are dealing with abuse that took place repeatedly for years before anyone found out about it. The perpetrators were reletives who now deny the whole thing and are doing everything they can to let everyone know what an evil liar the victim is. There are believed to be more victims that have not yet come forward. This problem is obviously tearing the family apart, and damaging lives in every way- emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

LexiconLuvr said...

I'm really proud of you for going forward with this book. It takes guts and heart to pursue a subject this touchy and difficult. Aside from helping people, it is wonderful that you're helping aim it towards children so that they know they have a voice.
It is something I will be purchasing for my children and nieces and nephews. I think it is so important.

Wonderful first post, by the way. Can't wait for your next one!

burley said...

I do hope that your book gets published! I think that it deals with a common and often hidden topic. I know some who have been affected by sexual abuse but do not currently run in a circle where it is talked about. Loved your post and the design of the blog! Keep it up!

Scarlet Knight said...

I am shocked an horrified at the numbers you've posted. How awful. Hope you have great success with the book. =) The world needs it!

Linda Garner said...

Thank you for your comments. My publisher and I are both grateful for the feedback. You are my heroes for having the courage to speak out. Feel free to tell others. This is how we Make a Difference. If anyone is uncomfortable posting to the blog they can respond personally to me at can.u.make.a.difference.@gmail.com.
Linda Garner