These days, all we have to do is turn on the television and we are instantly invited into people’s lives. Whether it is Bret Michaels trying to find his Miss Rock of Love, Flavor Flav trying to find his flavor of the week or a movie on the Lifetime network surfacing around bad marriages, cheating spouses, alcohol and drug addiction or abuse. But what happens when the two hour program is over and you are faced with reality of your own life?
In April, I was introduced to an amazing woman named Sandra Potter. Sandra was different than any other person I have ever met. For a small framed woman, she had this will, drive and determination powerful enough to move mountains.
Sandra and I had several similarities and we immediately connected on many levels. We were both from small towns, mothers whose lives revolved around our children, but with all the similarities I was about to learn a difference between us that would forever change my life. She would open my eyes on many levels, including life after physical and sexual child abuse.
I will never forget the day Sandra confided in me that she took a stand after her own daughter’s innocence was stolen. Sandra came from a small country town and her mother and stepfather provided care for her young daughter. She felt comfortable knowing her child would be safe and out of harm’s way, being with family members, as she struggled working the night shift to help support her growing family.
One would think, if you can’t trust your own family, who can you trust, right? Wrong!
Sandra walked-in and caught her stepfather molesting her young daughter. It was the most horrific and traumatic moment of her life. Their lives were permanently changed by one man’s wrongful actions.
Sandra grabbed her daughter, wrapped her in a light blanket and rushed out the door. On the way to the police station Sandra’s young daughter looked and asked why she was crying. Sandra responded, Mommy’s just sad right now. It was then her baby girl placed her tiny hands on Sandra’s face and said, Mom, don’t cry, it’s okay…we were just playing our secret game. It was then Sandra’s heart sank! She wanted to die.
It was then Sandra questioned herself. How could I have not seen the signs? Why didn’t she tell me? How did I not know? Sandra’s questions were later replaced by guilt and blame.
From that day on, Sandra was no longer one of those parents who thought this type of thing would “never happen to me.” Their lives as they knew it had just been permanently changed.
Sandra felt every emotion possible and wanted this man to pay for what he did to her daughter. He confessed to molesting her little girl for three years. He was prosecuted and sentenced to 15 years in jail, but to a mother who’s daughter’s innocence was stolen, it wasn’t enough.
Wanting to make her stepfather pay for what he did, Sandra went out and purchased her very first handgun. Her intention; serving her own justice, but having a conscience she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Her child had already been through enough trauma, she couldn’t risk the outcome of a trial or a guilty conviction.
One would ask themselves if placed in this position, would a jury of my peers find me guilty? It depends… if any member of that jury would have walked in and witnessed what Sandra had witnessed that day.
Sandra is convinced if she I had known then, what she knows now, she would have seen the signs and she would have known something was wrong. She would have been able to stop the abuse, before it progressed as far as it did. She now knows and understands how hard it is to comprehend how or why anyone would ever want to hurt a child, but the reality is they do.
Did you know… Every 13 seconds a child is physically abused in the United States. One in three girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18. One in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. A total of 85 percent of teenagers who run away from home flee in an attempt to escape some type of abuse. Every 10 seconds a child is sexually abused or raped. Today, five children alone will die from neglect and child abuse.
This man’s actions cost Sandra everything, but she refused to compromise her daughter or remain silent. It was then Sandra knew she needed to help children- those without a voice. Determined to speak out for children without a voice, Sandra took a stand, started her mission and became that voice, creating Dreamcatchers for Abused Children.
Dreamcatchers is a worldwide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting child abuse awareness by educating society on the signs, symptoms, statistics, prevention and steps towards recovery.
Sandra spends twelve to sixteen hours a day online building websites, answering letters and phone calls, all in hopes of educating just one more person. She believes each person who is properly educated on physical and sexual child abuse, there is a great possibility that another child will be saved and will not have to suffer.
Sandra’s dedication has earned her the Myspace Impact Award.
I am truly inspired by Sandra’s dedication. Now I’m looking at life with my eyes wide open and I am no longer blinded by the unknown. I am now determined. I want to make the world a better, safer place where children can be children and not have to worry about predators or abusers.
The reality is, instead of so much drama and rehearsed scenes on reality television shows, the American people need to wake up and focus on the real reality of the real world and the real issues affecting our country.