For my daughter Ashley who first lit the spark in me to live and to make it count.
It started with a secret..
It started with a whisper …
It started with a question….
It grew to a tribe…
It blossomed into hope ….
It spread like fire …
It burned in the minds of everyone it touched….
It ended with passion and fight ….
It rested in relief and a promise of safety and protection….
In less than a year I stepped out of the shadows and told my story for the world to hear. I told my secret to anyone who wanted to hear. Those that heard it began to whisper it to their friends and neighbors. The question was posed,how many more are there? I began to search for answers and the flowed my way. In data and in personal reflection it grew on and on. The numbers rose, the problem identified, the tribe found one another and came together.
Hope blossomed in the form of sisterhood, strength, courage and resilience and the spark became a fire. Soon just about everyone had their flame lit within and began to work together to bring about the hope that never gain will this happen to another Hoosier child. Legislators, law enforcement, judges, coalitions, business, organizations and many more began to passionately work together to end child marriage in our state. At first they said it can’t be done.. then later how can we get it done. They fought and won on this historic night in our beloved Hoosier, state we put an end to child marriage. Those brave survivors and children of survivors who stood in this space with me can rest knowing that our Hoosier children are safe and protected from the horrors of what happened to us.
But its not done yet…it still burning..
Thank you for the spark @ Human Library Fort Wayne & @fort806 that started the fire @RedTableTalk
That spread to @peoplemagazine @oprahmagazine
And became a brush fire after @DatunorroClark with @NBC
And @ElaishaStocks @CBSdocumenties and continued to burn
Thank you to the legislators who worked tirelessly on this effort. Thank you to Tahirih Justice Center and Jeanne Smoot
Big thanks to Lindsey with Frost Todd Brown for your hours of pro-bono work and serious legislative ninja skills you are truly inspiring.
Thank you to my peers and colleagues on The Anti Trafficking Coalition of North East Indiana.
Resiliency Foundation board and staff
Sara Tasneem Advocacy
The Naila Amin Foundation
Girls not Brides
The YWCA of North East Indiana
The Drug and alcohol consortium
My peeps on the IPATH Task force
Indiana coalition to end sexual assault and human trafficking
Indiana coalition to end domestic violence
Great Kids Make Great Communities
Kids Voice of Indiana
Survivors Corner ( Ky)
Indiana State Bar Association Family Law Section
Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program
Indiana Youth Services Association
Fort Wayne Allen County NAACP
Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
Zonta USA District 6
So many more who offered financial support, encouragement and all around good vibes!
Thank you to the other survivors who stood on the battlefield with me in strength and grace. The children of survivors who had the courage to stand up and say enough! To Donna Pollard who came up from Kentucky to share her story of heartbreak and trauma living as a married minor in Indiana.
Together we can come together and be the change we want to see in the world.