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Thursday, October 18, 2012 - National speaker to share child abuse awareness, legislation

Oakland University will generate awareness of current issues in childhood sexual abuse with a special event titled, “From Stolen Innocence to Fearlessness and Forgiveness.”

Focused on the personal journey of Erin Merryn, a victim of abuse, the event will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, in Oakland Center Banquet room A. Head women's basketball coach Beckie Francis will be hosting the event.

"I'm really excited to hear Erin speak live," said Francis. "I have listened to her on Oprah, and she has also been on CNN and Good Morning America. The testimonies she has given to various state legislatures are powerful. I admire Erin's courage to speak out for those who cannot."

Francis recently shared her own story as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse with the Associated Press. 

Merryn is a nationally recognized speaker on childhood sexual abuse. A native of Illinois, Merryn was a victim of sexual abuse beginning at the age of six. As an adult, she travels across the country to share her story with thousands and to help educate and empower every child. Her efforts encourage victims to speak out through Erin’s Law. 

“Oakland University is taking a proactive approach to the issue of child sexual abuse in light of what happened at Penn State University,” said Jean Ann Miller, director of Center for Student Activities. “This is very a important topic. Erin Merryn is helping give survivors a voice by sharing her story publicly, but also in spreading Erin’s law.”

The purpose of Erin’s law is to mandate school districts to implement and educate students on sexual abuse by adopting age appropriate curriculum for grades pre-k through fifth grade. Educating students in school is an effective way to ensure children do not fall prey to sexual abuse or stay silent if it does occur. 
 
The mission of Erin's law is to provide education programs in all 50 states dedicated to the prevention of sexual abuse by empowering children with their voice instead of allowing sex offenders to silence them.

Thus far Erin’s Law has been passed in five states and legislation is currently pending in several states. This summer, the law was passed by Michigan's State Senate. 

Merryn has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, Montel Williams, CNN, and Good Morning America. She has also been featured in multiple newspapers and magazines including Time magazine, Cosmo girl magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the Daily Herald. 
 
This year alone Merryn has had 20 public speaking sessions to help spread her story and the importance of Erin’s law. 
 
To learn more about Erin Merryn or Erin’s law visit her website at erinmerryn.net.

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