Scott Brown Abuse: Give Children a Voice to Tell


"Sexual abuse is tied to self-mutilation and drug and alcohol abuse," said Book. "For me, personally, I burned my skin. I wore a heating pad on my stomach to the point that it was discolored and disfiguring. We see things like that time and time again."

Without counseling, a phenomenon known as revictimization can occur, according to Book. Survivors can make themselves more vulnerable to additional assaults, beatings or verbal abuse.

"You cannot identify those patterns and see that they are wrong," she said.

The consequences of not telling are devastating. Survivors of sexual abuse are four times more likely than others to consider suicide, according to the Rape, Assault, Incest National Network (RAINN). And survivors are four times more likely than others to consider suicide.

Just last month, Princeton doctoral student Bill Zeller, a promising computer programmer, killed himself after being haunted by childhood rapes.

The 27-year-old left a 4,000-word suicide note disclosing the "darkness" that stalked him. It was the first friends and family had ever been aware of the abuse.

In his shocking note, Zeller described an "inconsolable rage," and said programming had been an appealing career because "I was able to keep the darkness at bay for a few hours at a time."

"My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly," he wrote. "This has affected every aspect of my life."

"We hear every day on our sexual assault hotline that this is the first time they have talked about this," said Jennifer Wilson Marsh, director of RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotlines. "When someone is able to speak or type aloud or share the emotional narrative relating to the trauma, there is some distance and it takes it out of the darkness and into the light."

"It's less scary and less shameful and puts those feelings into perspective because it's so overwhelming," she said.

An estimated 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, according to RAINN. Also, 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12.

As in both the Brown and Book cases, 90 percent of all survivors know their attacker.

"It's so common, but nobody talks about being sexually abused," said Book. "They don't get the counseling or help they need to heal. Many have been dealing with it for so long they are afraid to get help. That's why it's so important and why we talk about getting the help you need."

Education Can Give Children a Voice

"I think 95 percent of it is preventable through education and awareness," she said.

Book's school curriculum is offered in grades K to 5 throughout schools in her home state of Florida.

"We teach children that their bodies belong to them," she said. "Just because a family member says, 'Give me a hug,' doesn't mean they have power over you. It's your body and so it's important to tell and paramount to our movement and what we do. You are not damaged goods."

In addition to providing a 24-hour crisis hotline and speaking engagements nationwide, her organization provides more than 4.5 million educational and awareness materials statewide.

The ultimate goal is to raise funds for the creation of a crisis center for children and families coping with the aftermath of sexual abuse.

"I survived, I'm ok... because it's always ok to tell," said Book.

In Brown's case, he said he didn't tell his mother about the abuse at the time, and his autobiography held some revelations his family had never heard before.

In the book, he describes having to protect his mother from a string of violent husbands. Later, he said he visited the house where the abuse took place.

"I actually called the realtor and went in and took the tour and relived kind of where everything was . . . to make sure I wasn't . . . dreaming,'' Brown told "60 Minutes." "As I left, I said, 'Man, I wish I had the money. I'd just buy this thing and burn it down.''' .

If you've been a victim of sexual abuse, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or 800-656-4673.

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