Friday, February 14, 2014

Boys Don't Cry, Do They?

Several years ago I wrote a picture designed to prevent sexual abuse.  It is called Some Secrets Hurt, and was published in 2008 by Shadow Mountain.  That was the beginning of a wonderful journey.

The journey brought me into the crazy world of writing, and it also brought me into the personal lives of abuse victims.

I have received  touching letters from victims of sexual abuse, who thanked me for writing the book, and wish it had been around when they needed help.  I appreciate these men and women for opening the doors to their wounded hearts and trusting me with their thoughts.
I have had the opportunity to talk to religious leaders and community leaders about sexual abuse, and I have had the opportunity to write articles, and participate in fund raisers to raise awareness about sexual abuse.  I have spoken in schools, and book clubs about sexual abuse.  For several years, I blogged weekly to the book’s website, 
My book was beautifully illustrated by Brandilyn Speth.  I am grateful that we were brought together for this project, because she had an inspired vision of the book.  I am grateful for her sensitivity.  It was Brandilyn who felt that we needed a boy’s book.  I wasn’t sure at first, but the idea teased my mind and asked me to pay attention.
About one in three girls are sexually abused before the age of eighteen in the U.S. today.  Boys are not far behind with nearly one in five boys being sexually abused before the age of eighteen.  Some think the stat for boys is not accurate, because boys are less likely to disclose abuse than girls.
In our community, we have been inclined to think that sexual abuse happens mostly to girls, but that may not be true.  In recent years, we have seen more in the news about sexual abuse to boys.  I think we are beginning to get a truer picture.
Sexual abuse is damaging, whether you are a boy or a girl, and whether you are seven or seventeen. The effects are difficult to overcome. Prevention is preferable.  Education is the key.  Parents and teachers need to educate themselves about sexual abuse, and they need to start talking to the kids in their care.  They don’t need to be graphic, but they need to be clear.  Kids need this information.  Teenagers need this information.
Some people get the idea that Some Secrets Hurt is a book for children who have already been abused.  I have sometimes been asked “How will I know if my child needs this book?”  I always explain that every child needs it, first because we never know which child has been abused, and second because prevention is so much easier and effective than repair work.
Indeed I intended Some Secrets Hurt to be a tool that parents can use for prevention.  I intended it to open the doors of communication.  I intended it to give children a voice.  We are reluctant to talk about sexual abuse, yet talking about it is our best defense. 
Shadow Mountain decided not to publish the boys’ version, and Brandilyn decided not to illustrate it, but she had planted an idea in my mind that I acted on.
Lilly Johnson agreed to illustrate the book, and I have spent several months learning the process of converting text and pictures to e-book.  The book is ready to go, and will be out on the Kindle website within a day or two.   
Because Shadow Mountain owns the copyright to Some Secrets Hurt, everything about this book had to be different, so it is not a redone version of Some Secrets Hurt.  Like Some Secrets Hurt, Boys Don’t Cry is a must have for every home.
Boys Don’t Cry, Do They?
Watch for it.  Every home needs one.
Linda Garner




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