The 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland featured survivors James Safechuck and Wade Robson sharing their story of childhood sexual abuse, and how it affected their lives and still affects their lives. Their truth left me completely and utterly heartbroken, and it set off something inside of me.
I went down a path to learn more and what I found continued to devastate me—every 9 minutes a child is sexually abused in the United States. One in four girls. One in six boys. Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children 17 and under. Over 25 million sexual abuse images and videos are reviewed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children annually.
With this knowledge, I knew I had to do something.
In 2019 I created Designed Out Of love, an initiative to raise awareness and support organizations fighting to stop the abuse of children. It's become a platform to share the information I learn because I believe it starts with us—parents, friends, relatives, teachers, and caregivers of children. The more we're aware, the more we learn, the more we talk about it, and the more we open our eyes to what’s happening around us and to those closest to us, the more we'll be able to protect kids.
I know this is hard and not something many of us feel comfortable digging into or talking about. Worst of all, I know for many it hits close to home. But I hope to encourage each of us to try, even if it feels small. Have age appropriate conversations with your kids, ask your school about their sexual health program and how they incorporate Erin's Law, or be a trusted adult for a child. If you are on a healing journey, please know you deserve to be believed, it's not your fault, and you have options.
My first step was a watching a documentary, and what I learned is that hearing a survivor's story first-hand put things into a new perspective. It can pull out a deep and profound empathy you won’t soon forget, and that empathy becomes part of who you are, and can be a driving force to help others.
Thank you for taking the time to visit and to read about the initiative.
Creator of Designed Out Of Love
Lauren is a mother, a graphic designer, volunteer, and a co-founder of Pono Design Studio. Pono donates design services to non-profits and initiatives that support our communities and work towards positive change.