I am so use to being in the public eye being surrounded by people that know about the label I carry. So when I find myself in a position like I did today where I was meeting with 10 other women in a new small group at church that knew nothing about me or at least I thought. When I met up with the women after church I began introducing myself and wondered how should I best approach the subject of “What do you do?” On our way down do the cafeteria at our church (I attend a mega church of over 15,000 members and it is the size of a community college and will one day become its own town because it continues to grow which often gives it the name that people that go there are in a cult) one of the women looked at me and recognized me she met me at our 20’s ministry retreat over a year ago and it was a very brief encounter I had with her. She looked at me and said, “I read about you on the front page of the paper for your law that is incredible. I notice you go under two names.” I said, “Yeah Merryn is my pen name for my books.” Another woman walking with us over heard our conversation and said, “What law did you pass?” Awhile later I am sitting at a table with all brand new faces to me, except for one of my good friends from high school who was joining the small group with me. The question got asked, “So Erin what do you do?” “I am an author, motivational speaker, who just passed a law in Illinois.” I now had all eyes on me and these women were looking at me like I had 5 eyeballs or something. They were shocked and then when I told them I was on Oprah in October someone blurted out, “You a celebrity!”All I could do was laugh and say far from it.
I spent the next two hours with these women getting to know them and one even pulling me aside and saying something I hear often, “You and I will get along great I can relate to you so much.” I can already tell these are a great group of women who I will have a great time getting to know and growing in my relationship with God. Many people look up to me and I know think it must be pretty neat when I can tell people I wrote two books about my experience by the age of 24 (many women live in silence until their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s) Then to be able to appear on Oprah and bring her to tears talking about this on her own show and pass a law on top of it all by the age of 25. It makes me wonder what will I have accomplished by age 50. (Lets pray I find a man I can trust and have children, I know that sounds like a given but believe me it isn’t for everyone).
There is however a big reason so many do know me for my books, television appearances, speaking engagements, passing a law, being named newsmaker of the year, etc. For the simple reason that I never got justice. The two individuals who did unthinkable acts to me as a child have just as much freedom as I do. They can walk the same streets as me, shop in the same stores, eat at the same restaurants, etc. These two men were never brought to justice. 13 charges were brought against one of these individuals and after a detective talked for several hours he got him to confess to 3 counts before putting him under arrest and then releasing him to his parents. I would be the one holding him accountable years later in letters we exchanged. Holding him accountable for all those acts and not just the 3 he confessed to police about. This abuser heard something in those letters, my voice. I learned at 17 years of age I cannot get back the innocence killed in me, the trust taken from me, the years stolen from me, but damn I can take back that voice he told me, “nobody will believe you, this is our secret, you will destroy this family if you tell anyone, you have no proof, this never happened.” That voice stayed silent under his power and control but from the age of 13 when I first broke my silence to today I learned there is one thing I do have and that is my voice. The same goes for the abuser that molested and raped me from 6-8 years old who never confessed but instead plead the 5th to police in 2008. Well he is the one in silence now and once again I have the voice he had thought he silenced.
I know so many people that have been molested and raped as a child who have seen their abusers held accountable and locked away. One friend locked her abuser away for life, another locked her abuser away for 25 years, there were girls in my group at the children’s advocacy center who locked their abusers away and I remember two of the girls abused by the same man and he only got 4 years in prison and was out in 2 years for good behavior. The two girls were upset because he was only locked away for 2 years which I agree is like a slap in the face to the victims for his terrible acts of abuse. However at least he spent time behind bars. I cannot say that about either of the men that abused and raped me have never spent a single day behind bars for their terrible acts. These are criminals I am talking about who walked away from this.
So when the justice system cannot do it’s job I decided to do a much better job and give myself the only justice I could find and that has been taking back the voice these two individuals took from me, confronting them both, and using the voice they hoped would live in fear and silence the rest of my life and instead became empowered to speak out and help others find their voice. In a sense I am every sex offenders worst nightmare because I expose their evil and am going to make it more difficult in the state of Illinois for sex offenders to keep kids silent. (One day the nation).
I never had to testify in a courtroom and look at the two individuals that took so much from me as a child. These two individuals are left to testify to God why they deserve a second chance to return home to his kingdom one day and not burn in Hell for their crimes. I trust in God that he will be a fair God and do exactly as He states in the Bible about bringing people to justice. Do I think both of these men can end up in Heaven one day with me, yes I do because I know what it would take for both of them to be there. Do I believe both these men can burn in Hell after this life, yes I do because I know what it would mean they didn’t do for them to get there.
While I never got my day to testify in a courtroom against either of these men I took action to use the justice I found in my voice to testify at the Capital in my state to my Senate and House to educate and protect every other child in Illinois from what I was not protected from as a child passing it with all yes votes. The justice I never saw gave me a drive and passion to use my voice for CHANGE. I know for a fact if I ever had my day in court against either of my abusers they would see the inside of a cage locked up. If that would of happened I don’t think people would know Erin Merryn and because it didn’t happen this nation will never look at sexual abuse the same. It will one day be that subject that is not swept under the rug but instead taught in every state public school.
Justice is out there even if it doesn’t come by the authorities. We all have the power to seek it within ourselves and it just might take making some noise and not giving up. If you have the drive, motivation, and determination to get something done anything and I mean anything is possible. So don’t let the justice system let you down. Go out and find your own justice. It’s out there believe me!