Educate, Prevent, Heal, Child Sexual Abuse, Polk County, N.C., Rutherfordton, N.C.,Landrum S.C.
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In 2014, Mary Edwards, a former foster child, decided that she wanted to end child abuse. She joined forces with community partners, and soon Be A Voice 4 Kids became a Polk County organization. Be A Voice 4 Kids mission is to educate, prevent and heal child (sexual) through Spiritual strength, peer support and inspiration.
Since its inception on June 15, 2015, Be A Voice 4 Kids has disseminated information about prevention, detection, and appropriate response to childhood abuse at numerous venues throughout the county, including the Polk County Child Abuse Awareness Walk, the Thermal Belt Outreach School Supply Distribution, the Columbus Fourth of July Celebration, and Green Creek Heritage Days. Citizens are drawn to the information booth through activities like face painting and the colorful, informational signs. At every event, individuals reveal their understanding of the need for this outreach due to first person experience. Every life in this county has been touched in some way by childhood sexual abuse.
TRAINING IN PREVENTION, DETECTION, AND RESPONSE
Members of Be A Voice 4 Kids identified childhood sexual abuse as a crime against children that needed community response, and further identified Darkness to Light Stewards of Children as the best training for the public in prevention, detection, and response to child sexual abuse. Be A Voice 4 Kids has trained more than 150 community members to be Stewards of Children, with the full, two-hour training. Trainings for the general public reached 100 individuals, and fifty more county residents were reached at trainings at Polk County Middle School, Collins Dental, Polk County Recreation Department, and Mills Spring First Baptist Church. A member of Be A Voice 4 Kids went to every school in the county with an initial, 30-minute outreach presentation to all teachers and staff.
Be A Voice 4 Kids serves residents of Polk County and the surrounding area. While priority is given to Polk County residents, families and children who lack resources will not be turned away until and unless resources can be located for them in their own home counties. Be A Voice 4 Kids has Polk County as its designated service area. Members of Be A Voice 4 Kids have joined the Polk County Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Committee, and the founder/president is a current member of that committee, working in conjunction with community partners to end child abuse in the county and to align the organizational mission with the county goals.
WORKING TOWARD OUR PROPOSED PROJECT...
In doing outreach to the community and working closely with community partners who spend their life’s work to end child abuse, Be A Voice 4 Kids has determined that a children’s advocacy center devoted to ending child abuse is a priority need in the county at this time. This center will provide one-stop resources for families affected by child abuse, including childhood sexual abuse. In addition to the outreach efforts currently in place, which will continue, the center will have a free-standing building and grounds where best programs and practices for building resilience, supporting non-offending family members, and providing resources for children affected by this crime will be present.
The mission of Be a Voice 4 Kids is to educate, prevent and heal child abuse through Spiritual strength, peer support and inspiration.
Mary Edward's Testimony
The first 14 years of my life were flooded with abuses that formed a pain filled life. Sexual abuses stabbed my innocence and lead to a life time of hurts which resulted to...
I turned my back, arms closed across my chest, and rejected all possibility of ever regaining respect for parents, men, authority, myself and God. My life’s die was cast. I did exactly as Satan wanted me to. I drank. Got hooked on the over use of prescription medications. I fell prey to abuse from myself and others. Suicide planning peppered my days. I sobbed in my pillow when I just couldn't look at myself in the mirror any longer. My life was ugly and so was the reflection I saw and wanted to spit on. I was tired of being hurt, mad, sad, disgusted, ashamed and angry at myself and God. Satan held me in his hands and was singing a victory chant over me.
I had to make a choice. My everyday life had to change. I crashed to the floor and cried out to God. I had to stop running from Him in anger and start moving toward Him. The intent of the evil one was to create distance between me and God. I had to intentionally return to Him and let Him embrace my hurting soul. I accepted in my heart that Jesus knows each painful memory and is aware of my feelings. He took it to the cross.
Daily progress is being made. Each day I am filled with His Spirit and through that power, I am healing. Ugly is being replaced by the beauty of forgiveness. I know God is holding my hand and healing my inner child. The adult sees through God's eyes now. Papa God shares with me every good promise of healing and victory in Him as I embrace peace through His Son.
Healing came when I made a deliberate choice to put away things of the past and look forward. I continuously pray that God will help me find ways to set boundaries in my thinking: letting go of the past, forgiving myself and others, and moving forward in peace through Him. He is proud of the person I am becoming.
Although I asked Jesus into my heart as a child, it took self a lifetime of abuse, even as an adult, to surrender and ask Jesus to become the Lord of my entire life, in every area. February 23,2010, I surrendered and gave the pain of Satan's plans over to my loving Father, God, who embraces me with His Holy Spirit through the love of His son, Jesus.
Through obedience, I now share my testimony as a Christian Communicator in conferences, churches, local events, and in private one on one sessions with others who need to hear that God has always been there and loves greater than anyone can ever understand. I am the founder of a ministry called, Be A Voice 4 Kids, where much prayer is given with education, prevention and HOPE in healing child sexual abuse victims.
What Satan meant for an evil mess, God has made an overcoming messenger. All through His grace. I will be forever grateful saved. I am still in AWE.