My Body Belongs to Me
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Yesterday I met Jill Starishevsky in London as she is on holiday with her family. Jill is an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, where she has prosecuted hundreds of sex offenders and dedicated her career to seeking justice for victims of child abuse and sex crimes. She had brought along her family to visit London as she is currently on maternity leave.
She has written the most WONDERFUL book “My Body Belongs to Me” which led to her being on The Oprah Show. Jill is simply inspirational and it was just a wonderful 2 hours spent chatting about parenting, how I use Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) to handle the trauma cases I’m involved with, and how I can help spread the word about her important message.
When I was a young teacher I was involved in pursuing a child abuse case in my class of eight year olds that led to a prosecution so this is a subject that I feel must be talked about so it can be prevented.
Lots of daytime TV shows pick up on cases after the event but I am passionate about helping prevent the cases in the first place, and this simple and sensitive book is what is needed for schools, families and parents to make their kids gently aware that when it comes to their bodies, there are boundaries.
Parents have said to Jill, “Oh well this won’t happen in my family or to my kids” but Jill said every single family she has worked with came into her office and said the same .
It’s a taboo subject, but I believe if handled naturally and confidently and in context, can be taught in schools and homes to help children feel empowered to feel comfortable about their bodies and to be able to speak up, be heard and be believed should anything happen that’s inappropriate.
Here is Jill on The Oprah Winfrey Show:
Outside the courtroom, Jill’s love of writing led her to create thepoemlady.com, where she writes her own compositions but her mission to protect children, along with her penchant for poetry, inspired My Body Belongs to Me. Jill is also the mother of three and the founder of HowsMyNanny.com, a service that enables parents to purchase a license plate for their child’s stroller so the public can report positive or negative nanny observations.
As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City for more than a decade, she often encountered children who were sexually abused for lengthy periods of time and suffered in silence. One case in particular had a profound impact on her and compelled her to write her wonderful book.
Jill told me “I prosecuted the case of a 9-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was 6. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” about children who were physically abused. The episode, “Tortured Children,” empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can’t tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.
I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave 9-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to “tell a teacher.”
Jill wrote My Body Belongs to Me to continue that message. It message is to teach children that they don’t have to endure abuse in silence. Parents and educators should use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters. It is her sincere hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Me will prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.
Here’s what people have been saying about this very important book
“…In only 19 sentences, this simple book will empower children while promoting open communication.”
– School Library Journal
“Finally, a book that explains to children in a clear, understandable way what child sexual abuse is, why it’s not their fault and why it is critical to tell an adult when it happens.”
-Ross Ellis, Founder and CEO, Love Our Children, USA
“With an easy rhyme and attractive pictures, this book will help both adults and children enter into a conversation about a subject that is often extremely hard for anyone to speak about, privately or publicly.” -Pamela Pine, PhD, MPH
Founder and CEO Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc., www.stopcsa.org
“Prevention is key when it comes to children’s personal safety. Kudos to Ms. Starishevsky for taking on this project.” -Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT
Licensed family and child therapist, Founder, www.TheGoToMom.TV
“The author skillfully captures an extremely difficult subject using simple language any child can understand.” -Christine Louise Hohlbaum
Author, “Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff”