…we all have them, but what if it’s a secret someone is hurting you?
Interview with Author Elaine Carole, Author of “Stolen Innocence-The True Life Terror I Experienced as a Child“
You kept a secret for 20+ years, what was that secret?
I was keeping the secret that the man I called dad was molesting me night after night for 10 yrs. When I was 7 yrs old I was told that this man was not my “real” father…he adopted me after marrying my mother when I was just 2. I didn’t tell anyone that I was being hurt every night because every night this occurred I had threats whispered in my ear about how horrible it would be for my mother or little brother if anyone every found out about this secret.
After my mother divorced him (I was 17) I figured there was no point now by telling anyone…my family was going through enough as it was. I decided this was a secret I would keep forever.
What made you finally decide to come forward?
I didn’t decide this on my own. Police actually contacted me because this man I once called dad had been accused and arrested twice for molesting children in his own neighborhood. State Attorney’s were having a hard time building a case against him because the children’s testimonies changed a bit from when the crime was first reported. After hearing about what these kids went through I knew I had to come forward…the secret needed to be told.
What happened with this man?
State Attorney’s decided that we had enough to prosecute. This was of course after having to do what they call controlled phone calls. I did two of these; basically that is where the police tape the phone conversation.
So after many delays we went to trial and I can happily say I am now living my life free from fear and he is living in fear…he is serving 25 yrs to life, meaning he must serve 25 years before he is eligible for parole.
What inspired you to write this book?
After the trial the detective and my family all suggested that I write about this experience. They all thought sure my story is like so many others we hear about, but they also thought there were so many differences too. So I thought what the heck I’ll give it a try. I couldn’t believe how easy the words started to flow…it was the best therapy for me.
What have you been doing since the book was published?
I have been speaking in all types of formats. This past school year I was accepted by the Pinellas County School Board to speak in classes’ grade 6 – 12. So far I have shared my story with over 2000 students.
I have also been speaking with law enforcement officers as part of a learning seminar. Recently I was asked by the Attorney Generals office to speak to a group of victim advocates that were in training.
I have also been to a seminar in Orlando where I spoke to several hundred school officials and staff.
Plus I have done several open format groups where “mom” groups or church youth groups have me share my experience and share all the wonderful resources available to help other victims of this crime.
Do you feel sharing your story is helpful?
I know it’s helpful. I have had students come to me after class and thank me for helping them to realize its okay to tell someone and not be afraid.
During the seminar in Orlando I had several teachers and lunch staff come to me and share that they know now after listening to me speak that a particular student is a victim of this crime. Although they know they just can’t confront the student, they now know how to be a better friend and/or confidant, plus they have the information to give them should they ever come forward and ask for help.
What is the most important thing to you in regards to sharing your story?
It’s important because I know without a doubt that I am not to blame for this man’s actions. What he did to me was totally wrong. It does my heart a world of good to know that I have been able to take something so horrible and do something so good with it. Hearing the thank you from victims or reading emails telling me they are not afraid anymore makes this whole thing worth it.
How have you been promoting yourself as a self published author?
I have done several local television appearances, I have had a few write ups in local papers. I have also done several readings in the local libraries. Local organizations protecting victims have also had me speak at meetings.
You need to understand this isn’t something I am trying to get rich from; I am really trying to get my message out there to help others. If I can make a difference with just one person it will have all been worth it.
What is the most important thing parents, neighbors or friends can do if someone tells them they are a victim?
First and most important is to believe them. It is very rare for people to lie about this type of crime. So be sure you listen…let them know they are not at fault. Tell them you are sorry this is happening or happened to them. Let them know you will be there for them and support them with what ever they need. Encourage them to seek help. The Health Department’s has a crisis line they can contact, they don’t have to go straight to the police they can call a help line and ask for help, but most police departments have a victim advocate…you can even call the police station and ask to speak with the advocate.
Any final words you would like to share?
If this is happening to you or to someone you know, you need to tell someone. By me keeping this a secret other innocent children were hurt by this man, and believe me they will move on to different prey once you are gone. That next victim may not be strong enough to come forward…so end the terror and speak up.
I can proudly say that I am NO longer a victim I am a SURVIVOR!!! You can be one too!!!
Other sites: www.pcvrc.wordpress.com this is the coalition I belong too. I give a portion of the proceeds from my book to this organization. The monies go towards scholarship programs they offer to victims of all crimes to better educate themselves.
To learn more about Elaine Carole, visit: www.elainecarole.com