An Unimaginable Act: Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin's Law

An Unimaginable Act: Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin’s Law


Excerpts from An Unimaginable Act: Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin’s Law
Stolen Innocence

As I looked up from behind the dollhouse…I saw him standing there. I was already understandably terrified of this man because of what he had done to me the night I had slept over at Ashley’s house the year before. It was something I was reluctant to tell anyone about out of fear that he would come and get me if I told. I was terrified that he would be hiding in my bedroom at night waiting for me…. The sexual abuse began with Ashley’s uncle Richard when I was six years old…. until a month before my family and I moved. I was eight and a half years old when his physical terror over me ended.

Warned about strangers – not about family

I read an entry from my childhood diary to the audience that I wrote when I was twelve years old. This is what it said: May 1997. I sobbed the whole way home. A guy called Officer Friendly comes to school and teaches us not to answer the door when your parents are not home and don’t talk to strangers. They don’t teach us about people like my cousin Brian. I thought people like Brian jumped out of the bushes and attacked you at night. They never warned us in school about our own family.

Erin’s Law – Giving Children A Chance To Protect Themselves

When Juliana (Margulies) heard her state of New York was refusing to vote, she was furious… In a press release, Juliana stated, “Erin’s Law will give children a fighting chance, a voice, and the tools to help protect themselves. It should be passed in all fifty states. Common sense—it’s as simple as that.”

Title:  An Unimaginable Act: Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin’s Law
Author:  Erin Merryn
Publisher: HCI Books
ISBN: ISBN9780757317569

Erin Merryn essays her journey from a childhood in which she was sexually abused by an uncle of a friend and later by her own cousin, to her adulthood where she began to speak out about her experience, fight for the rights of children and eventually start a petition that resulted in what is called Erin’s Law. The law ensures the right of children to be empowered with the information and tools necessary to recognize and report sexual abuse.  Since Erin herself suffered due to lack of information and not knowing that she had the right to disclose what happened to her, she was in the best position to stand up for the rights of millions of children like her.

This is a story of the remarkable courage and faith of a young woman who fought her own demons and sought healing for herself. She moved from victim to a change-maker.

I found the book moving and inspirational.  The ARC copy I received from NetGalley for a review included her school reports etc.  This impeded the smooth flow of the narrative, for me.

When I read the book,  I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that she was allowed by her parents to correspond with her cousin (one of her abusers) to demand an apology.  However, after I watched this clip of Erin on The Oprah Show,  I understood how this actually impelled her towards healing and working to save children from abuse.

However, nothing can take away from the emotional appeal of the book and Erin’s strong voice for the rights of the innocent.

My rating [rating=4]

More about Erin Merryn:  She is the author of Stolen Innocence and Living for Today, both memoirs about child sexual abuse. Earning her master’s degree in social work in 2009, Erin dedicates her time to educating and empowering children. Her goal, through Erin’s Law, is to teach sexual abuse prevention to children in public schools. Erin was named Glamour magazine 2012 Woman of the Year for her efforts. She has appeared on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey ShowGood Morning AmericaOprah Life ClassIssues with Jane Velez MitchellTime magazine, Montel WilliamsLondon Times, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. To learn more about Erin and her mission, please visit