Edwards finds hope in educatingPublished 11:02pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013
by Kiesa Kay
Mary Edwards, an outspoken advocate for children’s rights, has discovered a mission that fuels and empowers her.
“I would rather educate to prevent child abuse than have to worry about the healing, but I also believe in giving people hope in healing,” she said. “We have to educate everyone, starting with our churches, and get people to open their eyes. So many children have been abused, and yet many of us don’t want to admit it or don’t think it can happen here. It happens everywhere.”
Edwards cited FBI statistics that say one in every four girls and one in every six boys in the United States are sexually abused by the time they reach age 18.
“I can’t be quiet about it any more, because being quiet hurts,” she said. “Now I share my own truth to let people know they can begin healing, too. If I can let people know that every day people have been abused, then they can begin to accept that it could happen even in their own homes.”
Edwards identifies as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, from the time she can first remember until she reached age 14.
Sharing her truth with her friends and family freed her, she said, and strengthened her courage to heal.
“When I released the pressure of that silence, a peace came over our family,” she said. “My husband and family have been very supportive of me now. Every time in the past, when a memory or hurt would be triggered, I couldn’t tell them what was bothering me … Now, they are more compassionate, because I can explain. I felt like I had a hidden, dirty secret, and I don’t feel dirty any more. I know I’m worth more than all the mud I’ve walked through.”
Edwards attributes her healing to her family’s love, good therapy from Bobbie Shannon who once worked at Steps to HOPE, and her faith in the Lord.
“God has given me a shield in this ministry,” she said. “I am a warrior woman for God. There’s a song that says ‘Be a Voice for the ones who have no choice,’ and when I first heard that song, I knew what I had to do.”