Thank you, Harvard University!
Here’s an edited version of remarks I delivered on November 19, 2015 during the Advanced Leadership Initiative’s Final Symposium at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA.
I want to say “Thank you” to Harvard, the faculty, staff, and my fellow cohorts. You gave me the courage to tackle a topic that is ruining lives – childhood sexual abuse.
My project goals are to give hope that we can heal, have the ability to dream big, and provide a voice to the voiceless.
As my cohort Steve Leven asked me in a breakout group: “Why should we care?” Greatest question to date.
My website, moodyspeaks.com, now addresses why we should all care. Here are just a few facts:
● There are an estimated 42 million childhood sexual abuse survivors. As an example, one of every 433 children is diagnosed with diabetes. One of every 68 is diagnosed with autism. But more than 1 of every 10 children will be sexually abused before the age of 18. And only 10 percent of victims ever disclose their abuse.
● Documented short- and long-term struggles for children who are sexually abused include depression, substance abuse, poor school performance and falling grades, inappropriate sexual behaviors, eating disorders, and poor interpersonal relationships. If untreated at licensed professional organizations, these problems can lead to far more detrimental behaviors during adolescence and adulthood.
● Childhood sexual abuse costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year. It causes devastating harm to millions of victims, making it difficult for them to lead productive lives. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the lifetime burden of an incident of nonfatal child abuse to be $210,012 per victim (in 2010 dollars). This includes immediate costs, as well as loss of productivity and increased healthcare costs in adulthood. Compare this to the lifetime costs of stroke ($159,846) and Type 2 diabetes ($181,000 to $253,000).
We have links to resources on our website, moodyspeaks.com, for those that need help. Survivor stories are posted every week to inspire other survivors.
I have designed a line of t-shirts with inspirational sayings. My photography is used as background graphics on the t-shirts, which will be sold to raise money to give grants to organizations helping childhood sexual abuse survivors. I am also completing my book on my journey of healing.
My project is to show we not only survive, but we can thrive. I know how bad it was for me in 1992 when I finally said for the first time to anyone at 36 years old I had been sexually abused as child. (I told my wife.)
I had no idea how my life would change. I suffered a nervous breakdown, but I couldn’t stop working. I had horrible panic attacks. I suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and I couldn’t find any information that shared successful stories of healing. I felt all alone and broken.
This is why I created this project: to help others see they are not alone, and to let them know that the journey of healing is possible and that we can do incredible things with our lives.
My “ask” to you is to care and be aware and support organizations that support childhood sexual abuse recovery in your area.
Moodyspeaks.com has been read in 112 countries. The calls, emails and whispers of “Thank you for speaking up” let me know we can make a difference.
I am one of the lucky survivors. We need to help all survivors be healthy and happy. Recently, (former Subway Sandwiches spokesman) Jarod Fogle got 15 years for preying on children for sex. Childhood sexual abuse is real and touches all of us in some way.
Thanks to Karla – my wife and personal nurse – who carried me, pushed me and loved me back to health to be able to help others heal and live incredible lives.
I thank God for carrying me and having mercy and grace on me to be able to survive and thrive, to have a heart that wants to help others heal, and to know we all make a difference in the world.