I recently got in touch with the chief of my hometown police department. I described in my first book how we had a man from the police department that came in and taught us about stranger danger and saying no to drugs through DARE. However we never learned about what to do when it is not a stranger but when someone you know is hurting you. Especially when your are being threatened or silenced with fear.
In my second book I talk about my mission in life now to get programs in schools that educate children on sexual abuse. I feel it is the key to saving so many children from abuse. Think about it for a moment. Right now children in public schools are not educated on sexual abuse (safe touch, unsafe touch, safe secrets and how to say “NO” and seek out help if someone tries to hurt them)
I feel Children’s Advocacy Centers where children are often sent across America after being abused are amazing places but why not educate children with the tools to protect them before they have to reach that center. Give them a voice before they need a reason to speak out on this subject. Educating children in schools on sexual abuse won’t end children from being abused but it could give children the tools to PROTECT them. It is placing that gut feeling in a child to alert them on unsafe touches, secrets, and using their voice. What is even greater is while maybe an education program in schools won’t save a child the first time they are abused it would give them the tools to speak up to a safe adult right away instead of staying silent for years or even decades like so many survivors do.
So today I met with the chief of the police department. We spoke for an hour and a half on this subject and he is going to get me in touch the Officer Friendly as we referred to him when we were in elementary school who goes into the schools and talks to the elementary and middle school students. He is an officer from the department whose fulltime job is in the schools. He also wants me to speak with their police social worker about my thoughts on this subject.
I also spoke with the Chief about my own experiences with how I feel these lessons could have saved me as a kid from staying silent for as long as I did. We spoke a bit on my first book and how police detective Mike Degiulio handled our case and got my cousin to confess. I shared with him how I applaud Degiulio who is now a Sergeant, in my next book for pulling the truth out of my cousin. Because for an entire month before he denied everything until detective Mike Degiulio sat across from him and got the truth. Something I will always be thankful for.
Sergeant Degiulio was the detective who sat on the other side of the mirror watching me during my interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center. I never saw his face but he saw mine and watched my sister and I tell the details of what we were put through.
Years later when I went to publish my book I called the police department to speak with him. I wanted to know all these years later how he got the cousin that silenced, threatened me, and told me no one would believe me to confess to what he did. As detective Degiulio describe to me on the phone 5 years ago there was an approach he asked my cousin questions that pulled the confession out of him. As I sat and shared my gratitude with the Chief of police for Degiulio’s work and how I have so much appreciation for a man I have never met. The Chief told me he would call his office and see if he was in today. He got on the phone and Sergeant Degiulio picked up. He told him I was there and asked him to come on down to his office.
So today I finally got to meet the man who gave my sister and I justice. The justice Degiulio gave us was pulling the truth out of my cousin. Holding my cousin accountable for his sick actions. I shook his hand and he sat down and talked with the Chief of police and I. I told him I finally get to meet him and put a face with his name. He told me that he had met me before nearly two years ago in passing when I was coming into speak with another detective about something unrelated to the case with my cousin. I didn’t even know it because I had no idea what detective Degiulio looked like I had never seen him before only my own reflection in a mirror as I told the stories of what went on behind closed doors with my cousin. He made me remind him how many years ago it was that he handled our case and I told him 11. We both can’t believe how fast time flies. While my cousin’s name was changed Mike Degiulio reminded me that he still hasn’t forgotten my cousin’s real name or the case. One that he remembers because so many concerned relatives contacted him trying to get my cousin’s confession to disappear. While I changed Sergeant Degiulio’s name in my first book I used his real name in my second book. I don’t feel I need to protect his identity as he is praised in my second book for his role in our case and someone I feel that should get credit for it by using his first name. I shared with him what I have done since publishing my first book and how I travel and speak out across the country on my story. A story he played a huge part in. The part where law enforcement does their job. The part where all survivors want the outcome I got….a confession.
Before leaving I told both the Chief of police and Sergeant Degiulio that I would be bringing in copies to both of them of my next book when it comes out in November. When I got up to leave Sergeant Degiulio walked me to the front doors of the police department and as I shook his hand goodbye he told me don’t ever hesitate to contact me if you ever need to.
It was nice after 11 years to finally put a face with the man behind the mirror that I was so grateful for in having handle our case. A man that looked into the eyes of my cousin and saw the truth of what he did and got a confession.