Author, Activist, Speaker, wife, mother, and force behind Erin’s Law
Glamour Magazine 2012 Woman of the Year.
Named by PEOPLE Magazine a HEROES Among us and one of fifteen women changing the world.
Erin Merryn is a Woman of the Year because…”She’s taken her personal crusade and turned it into a public one. So many children will be protected because of her.” –TV Host Katie Couric
Merryn suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a male neighbor at ages six to eight and from a teenage cousin at ages 11 to 13. According to her personal account, she told her parents about the latter after her sister confided that she had also been abused by the same relative. The family pressed charges, and the cousin eventually confessed to three counts of child sexual abuse. The case did not go to trial, resulting in the cousin receiving “some counseling, but no punishment”.
She graduated from Schaumburg High School in 2004 and earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Western Illinois University in 2008. She earned her Master’s degree from Aurora University in social work.
Merryn has since become a crusader for sexual abuse victims, and actively encourages others to speak out about their own survival. She published her diary detailing her cousin’s abuse and her own recovery, relapse and reconciliation in book form as Stolen Innocence in 2005. In November 2009, she published a second book, Living For Today, discussing earlier abuse by her neighbor and An Unimaginable Act, Overcoming and Preventing Child Abuse Through Erin’s Law in November 2013.
In 2010, she helped create Erin’s Law, which “encourages schools to educate children about sexual abuse prevention”. Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network RAINN, has publicly supported the law, saying, “I think teaching kids about sexual abuse is so crucial to preventing it and putting an end to it. Erin knows how damaging abuse can be. I think it’s incredible that she’s been able to take that and turn it into something so positive in a way that’s going to help so many people.” Merryn states that she intends for the law to be passed nationwide, and as of June 2015 it has passed in 26 states and is pending in 17.
An Unimaginable Act is a wake-up call to society on a silent epidemic one brave confident woman refuses to stay silent about. Through the trauma and obstacles she has faced in her life, Erin takes readers on a remarkable journey of resilience, faith, courage, and forgiveness. She shares how she turned tragedy into triumph, which has led her on an unstoppable crusade to give children the voice she never had as a child through a very important law that will protect children for generations to come.” —Julianna Margulies, Actress
I was not educated on not keeping secrets if someone was hurting me. My mission, through this legislation, is to educate children on what I never learned. I will not stop until children in all 50 states are protected from sexual abuse.” —Erin Merryn