Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Power of One - Recap


We just wanted to say thank you to everyone that came out to the event a month ago.  It was a great turn out, and I hope everyone that I attended was able to walk away with something, I know I did.  The one thing that hit me the hardest was a comment by Detective Russell.  I am paraphrasing, but he said, "Until we care enough to start talking about child sex abuse more, nothing will change."  I am more determined than ever to continue to talk about and fight against childhood sexual abuse.  Everyone at Run for Innocence has a renewed resolve to break the silence.  We hope you do to.

Check out the pictures from the event here.

-James Huntington

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Power of One... Breaking the Cycle of Abuse


Hello everyone!  We hope everyone is having a fantastic summer.  Well, it's time for another event!  Here are the details.  We hope you can make it!

A topic that has come a long way over the past 20 years but is still rarely talked about...sex abuse.  Everyone wants to believe it doesn't happen but the reality is it does and it can happen to any family.

Join us on Thursday August 22nd from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Sandra Lloyd Community Center Riverton Parks & Recreation Auditorium.  Hear from a former SVU Detective, a member from the District Attorney's office and a member from the Board of Pardons as they share valuable in site and experience in dealing and prosecuting abuse.  James Huntington, founder of Run For Innocence and Preston Jensen, two survivors of childhood sex abuse, will share their stories of hope and the power that one individual can have in breaking the cycle of abuse.

Following the presentations, will be a short Q&A session.  Everyone is welcome, adults and children! Let this be an opportunity to start talking openly about the reality of sex abuse within the home.  Free admission and light refreshments will be provided.

Date: 8/22/13 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Address: 12830 S 1700 W Riverton, UT 84065

If you have any questions, please contact Preston Jensen, presguaty@msn.com, or James Huntington, james.huntington@runforinnocence.org.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Break the Silence: Post 2

This post is part of our "Break the Silence" campaign.  Please be aware that the following may contain descriptions of abuse that may be graphic in nature.

My name is Preston, I want to talk to you today about something that has affected me in a huge way throughout my entire life.  The topic has come along ways over the past 20 years but its still something so many people try to avoid.  So many people are affected by it but as a society were taught that it's a hush hush thing.  I'm here today because as a kid I was not taught about sex or anything pertaining to sex which ultimately made me the perfect victim for my perpetrator.  I was sexually abused as a kid, it started when I was 8 years old and went on/off until I was 13.  The abuse itself was pretty typical, it was someone I knew and trusted--my best friends step dad.  He gained my trust and little by little he began to manipulate me, the abuse started with small things, to be honest as a kid I didn't realize that what was taking place was bad or wrong until it was too late.  Once I realized what was going on hurt me, scared me and made me feel uncomfortable he began to threaten me with a knife.  The threats didn't happen every time but enough that I truly thought if I told someone he would either hurt me or my family.  So I did what any other kid would do, I put up with the abuse.  As I got older the abuse worsened and the times I tried to resist he made it tens times harder.  I was lost, I was a scared kid who had no one to turn to so I kept it inside and internalized it.  I wasn't his only victim, in fact the number is endless.  He abused my friend, his siblings and a hand full of cousins that we are aware of.  Once the abuse ended no one ever asked me about it so I kept it a secret, I felt some many different things.  I was scared, ashamed, confused, I felt guilty inside and I was mad at my parents for not protecting me but as I mentioned I was never asked about the abuse so I tried to move on with my life.

After I returned from a LDS mission in 2002 I started having seizures and the seizures became my way of dealing/coping with the abuse.  Over the next 7 years the seizures were my life, I did test after test and everything came back normal but they decided to put me on seizure medication.  The side effects were horrible I had blurred vision most days and fatigue to a point where I could barely function.  I slept 12 hours a day, I couldn't drive so I depended on my family/friends everywhere I went.  I could only work part time when the seizures were more under control.  My life became so restricted, I couldn't imagine living another 60 years like this I had hit rock bottom so many times that I was finally to a point where I was ready to deal with the abuse head on.  I started seeing a counselor in 2008 and over the next few months the memories/flashbacks of the abuse came flooding back.  I wondered if I was strong enough to endure this pain and agony.  At this point I was faced with a decision that would change my life forever, I finally decided to report it to the police.  From 2009-2011 I went through the court system, sometimes I wonder what was harder the abuse itself or now dealing with it 20 years later facing my perpetrator.  I think it helped tremendously being an adult, I finally realized that if anyone was going to stand up for me, it had to be me.

I would like to share with you 3 days that made me who I am today, first was the preliminary hearing.  This was the day I went head to head with my perpetrator, I finally got to tell my story.  It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done having to testify of the things he had done to me, I was scared, I thought I was going to have a seizure but I made it.  I testified that day and walked out of the courtroom in tears, tears of relief I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders.  I finally got to stick up for that kid who had been so badly hurt.  The second day I'd like to talk about was a week before the trial, he ended up taking a deal and part of the deal with he was willing to admit to it and go to prison.  So instead of the trial they scheduled a hearing where he did admit to the abuse.  It was a relief in a different way, I couldn't believe it was actually going to be over with.  I walked out of the courtroom that day in tears that day but I felt a happiness I've never felt before in my life.  Last day I would like to talk about is the day of sentencing, I was able to speak at it.  This helped me so much, I stood up for that kid one last time.  I wasn't scared, I didn't feel seizurey most of all the things I said I said it was confidence.  As the hearing ended they handcuffed him and took him away, it was over.  I walked out of the courtroom in tears but this day it was different, I left that day a man.  I learned so much going through all of this, I learned that abuse doesn't just affect the victim it affects everyone around my family/friends.  I learned that everyone deals/copes with abuse in their own way, with that being said it's an individual decision to decided to move on.  Lastly I learned that you can't do it alone, once I realized this it made things so much easier.  I had so many people play apart in me getting through this some did more than others.  From my family, my friends, the detective over my case, the DA's office, the DA counselors over my case and the counselors I saw.  They all gave me the strength I needed to deal/cope with the abuse.  Early on in the case I was struggling, I felt hopeless and I didn't know how much more I could handle.  I met with the detective and he wrote something down on a piece of paper, he said to keep it in my wallet and whenever I was struggling to look it.  It says you're not alone!!!!!!!  Short and sweet but to the point, I hope every victim out there knows you're not alone.  Listen to me, having been through it and made it through I'm here to say that it gets better and easier.  It's ok to tell someone, find someone you trust and let them ease the pain and heartache you feel because you're not alone!!!!!!!

-Preston

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Break the Silence: Post 1

This post is part of our "Break the Silence" campaign.  Please be aware that the following contains descriptions of abuse that are graphic in nature.

I grew up in a household of one boy and five girls.  I was the youngest.  It was kind of known amongst us sisters not to be alone with dad.  He was kind of a "hands on" kind of guy.  Back rubs, shoulder massages, they were something we all grew accustomed to. But as soon as he had one of us alone, it became bad news quick.  The "funny" thing is, we never took the abuse we received from him as a serious threat.  I kiddingly asked my sister once about it and she said, "its just dad being dad." I never knew the seriousness of his actions until later in life, even though the abuse was very disgusting.

Once when I was 11 I broke my leg.  Dad spent many nights helping me change my clothes.  I didn't realize he was grooming me into letting him see me naked, also giving him access to my body.  Once the cast came off, he still found ways to see me naked.  Often times he talked about my developing body.  Fondling became more and more frequent under the disguise of tickling.  Then the clothes started coming off, followed by giving and receiving oral sex.  He told me he just wanted to make each other feel good.  Nothing wrong with that right???  He was really sick.  It didn't happen more than once or twice a month, but that was because I learned he was also doing this to my older sisters.  It did however continue until I moved out of the house at age 21.  By that time he was having full fledged sex with me.   I hate myself sometimes for not knowing how terrible this all was.  I have no idea how he got away with it for so long.

The reason I shared this with you today is because you guys look like your around my age.  Also, you run.  I learned at a young age that running is about the best thing I could do for my body, as well as my mind.  I got away from "it all" by running a few miles every day.  It has helped so much and continues to help today.  Please continue your work in fighting against sexual abuse.  I think the more people talk about it, the more young people will know it is wrong.  I never had access to the internet like many girls do today.  I didn't know my dad was an evil person.  Your work will help someone like me.  Thanks so much!

-Michelle

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bring Hope to Others

Recently a good friend of the organization went on the news here in Utah and shared his story of abuse.  I hope people who haven seen this will be inspired to speak up themselves, increase awareness in our communities, and strive to do everything possible to protect the innocence of children.

Thank you Preston for being brave and for being a great example to us all!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

It's Time to Break the Silence!


April is here again and that means it's Child Abuse Awareness Month.  We have been planning to launch a campaign and figured this month would be the perfect time to do it!  The campaign is called "Break the Silence."

Childhood sexual abuse is an ugly thing.  However, a culture of silence exists around this problem.  Some may think that not talking about the problem and sweeping it under the rug will make it go away, but the reality is that the silence only perpetuates the cycle of abuse.  It's time to end the cycle!  Through this campaign, we hope that many will "Break the Silence" and have the courage to speak up about CSA.  If you wish to tell your story or share your opinion, please email us at breakthesilence@runforinnocence.org (please let us know how you would like to attribute the post or if you want to remain anonymous).  Whether you have been a victim, had a loved one affected by abuse, or simply want to speak you mind about CSA, we encourage you to send us a message and we will share it on this site.  We will post the messages we receive on the main page, but also provide links to all the posts on the new "Break the Silence" tab.

Since starting Run for Innocence, we have received several emails and messages from friends, acquaintances, and strangers about their experiences in dealing with childhood sexual abuse.  Some have been personal experiences, others have been about a family member or friend, but we have felt some the pain of the victims in every story.  I personally know how much it hurts to kept something like that in and for me the pain didn't start going away until I was able to talk with someone.  I know most stories that involve childhood sexual abuse are gut-wrenching and almost unbearable to hear, but our hope is that through this campaign, people affected by childhood sexual abuse, like those who have shared their stories with me, will be able break the silence, begin healing, and offer hope to those still trapped by the effects of CSA.  Together we can not just be survivors, but overcomers of CSA!

James Huntington
Founder of Run for Innocence