WIU social work alumna Erin Merryn was recently recognized as a 2012 “Woman of the Year” by Glamour.com for her personal crusade to educate children about sexual abuse prevention.
It was almost three years ago that we first shared the story of Western Illinois University alumna Erin Merryn, who received her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2008. The story read:
A rainy night in October 2004, at a “Take Back the Night” rally and march at Hanson Field, marks the first time Erin Merryn spoke to a crowd about her sexual abuse. Today, Merryn can also list “Good Morning America” and the “Montel Williams Show” as other significant public venues in which she has provided a “face and voice” of a sexual abuse survivor.
That story was about the publication of Merryn’s second book, “Living for Today.” (She published her first book, “Stolen Innocence” while she was still in high school.)
Today, Merryn’s story continues to be one about her mission to educate kids about sexual abuse prevention. This year, she made “Glamour” magazine’s 2012 “Women of the Year” list: “Erin Merryn is a Woman of the Year because… ‘She’s taken her personal crusade and turned it into a public one. So many children will be protected because of her.’ — TV host Katie Couric, 1992, 2002, and 2006 Woman of the Year,” states Erin Zammett Ruddy in the “Erin Merryn: The Guardian Angel” article on glamour.com. Ruddy notes:
In 2010 she helped draft Erin’s Law, which encourages schools to educate children about sexual abuse prevention. (The gut-wrenching statistics: More than 300,000 reports of such abuse are filed in the United States each year.) “Think of how many kids could have been saved from monsters like Jerry Sandusky if they’d had the tools to speak up,” she says. “I want that second-grader to tell her mom what happened at the sleepover, not wait until she’s 30 to break her silence.” One nine-year-old survivor did exactly that–and wants to be “just like Erin” when she grows up. “If I had learned about sexual abuse when I was younger,” the girl says, “I would have definitely told someone sooner.”
Her crusade and her recognition was mentioned on the “Today” show just this morning, too. (See the video on Merryn’s YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/bNGDS24S650; she’s mentioned beginning around the 4 min. 7 sec. mark.)
According to Ruddy’s article, Merryn’s goal is to “put sex offenders out of business,” noting: “She’s undaunted in her mission to pass Erin’s Law in all 50 states and has already checked four off her list: Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Maine. ‘Because of Erin,’ says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the first to sign the law, ‘our schools are making sure students are educated about sexual abuse. Because of Erin, further cases of child sexual abuse are being prevented.'”
Read more at www.glamour.com/inspired/women-of-the-year/2012/erin-merryn. Learn more about Merryn on her website at www.erinmerryn.net.