Help in the Fight

This story comes from a personal level. This is the story of a young girl who was sexually assaulted by a man more than ten years her senior! He threatened her and told her not to tell. She didn’t. She became pregnant and had the baby and all the while never revealing who the father was. When she finally turned 18 she told her family what had happened and who the child’s father was. The family began to fight to have this man prosecuted but everywhere the family turns in this small town doors as being slammed in their face. This is a tragedy in itself. What is the world coming too that this can simply be brushed aside? There is a petition circulating in hopes to make enough noise that this city takes charge and gives this man what he deserves. Please help in the fight.


By Ashten Meadows

New PAVE Ambassador – Merri Dee

PAVE is proud to announce that Chicago broadcasting legend Merri Dee is our newest PAVE Ambassador. This past week, Ms. Dee was given the honor of being appointed by IL Governor Quinn as the Human Rights Commissioner!

“When you think that you are all alone and no one understands what you have been through, PAVE is here for you.  PAVE offers light, love, direction, guidance and a reason to go on.  When you are a PAVE member you have joined a major, national advocacy group of supporters.  PAVE advocates for you where you are, on college campuses, in Washington.  A PAVE membership is not a card to carry, its an actionable step that you take for yourself – that you genuinely share with others. Do something powerful! Join PAVE now!”

About Merri Dee…

Merri Dee is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and a highly popular panelist, moderator, and professional mentor. As president of MD Communications, she helps organizations develop strategies on media relations, marketing and public relations, community relations, and fundraising. In addition, Merri Dee provides individuals with professional and life coaching assistance.

As a celebrated motivational and keynote speaker, Merri Dee infuses humor and warmth into her real-life stories that inspire individuals and employees to rise above challenges and seize control of their destinies. She has presented to audiences from a few hundred to more than a thousand. Clients for her keynote addresses include companies in the Fortune 100 such as AT&T, Kraft, and Motorola. Merri Dee’s inspirational keynote topics include:

– Communication and Leadership Skills

– Increasing Productivity

– The Will to Survive Fear and Pain

– Successful Fundraising

– Supporting Military Families

– From One Caregiver to Another

– Surviving the Senior Years (Helping Your Seniors Live Their Best Lives)

– Women: Empowered

– Violence Prevention

As an award-winning broadcaster, Merri Dee has been a trailblazer in both radio and television. She has served as a newscaster, talk show host, and staff announcer. Later she served as Director of Community Relations at superstation WGN-TV and as advisor to other Tribune owned TV stations. She has hosted countless parades, telethons, television specials and has served as an emcee and host for a variety of organizations.

For more than 30 years, Merri Dee co-hosted the nationally syndicated “UNCF Annual Evening of Stars,” raising tens of millions of dollars for college scholarships. She leveraged her relationship with the McCormick Foundation to raise more than $31 million for Chicago Children’s Charities. However, her efforts extend beyond raising money. She supports organizations that address critical social issues such as adoption and foster care, violence prevention, education, and women’s issues.

An impassioned advocate for violence prevention, Merri Dee arrives at this issue from personal experience. Many lifelong Chicagoans still remember her heart-wrenching story of being kidnapped at gunpoint, shot, and left for dead by an assailant. Given last rites twice, overcoming paralysis and blindness, Merri Dee survived and became an inspiration to others overcoming various traumas. The account of her ordeal was the subject of several network programs, including 60 Minutes, the Phil Donahue Show, and Oprah.

This life-changing experience led her to being the force behind the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of the nation’s first Victim’s Bill of Rights. Illinois’ legislation has served as the model for similar laws throughout the United States. While Merri Dee continues to speak forcefully about violence prevention, she also provides her expertise to CeaseFire, a highly successful evidence-based national violence prevention organization.

Merri Dee is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Among these are:

– Silver Circle Award, Academy of TV Arts & Sciences

– President’s Award, United Negro College Fund

– Hall of Fame Induction, National Association of Black Journalists

– Adoption Excellence Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

– National Women in Film

She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Tougaloo College and Lewis University.

Merri Dee was appointed to serve as an official U.S. Army Ambassador. She was appointed by former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to serve on the Mayor’s Council on Women’s Issues, and by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to The Serve Illinois Commission, a volunteer advocacy delegation. Merri Dee is the Illinois State President of AARP, which has 1.8 million members. Merri Dee has recently been appointed a Commissioner, Ill. Human Rights Commission.


Taylor’s Story

For my 17th birthday, I celebrated I am alive and wanted to make a difference. I raised $1,724 from my friends and family for PAVE.

December 2012

Dear Mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother or sister,

The silence was shattered for me September 4, 2009. Just like the Sandusky survivors I, too, cried in silence and lived in fear of someone twice my size and a foot taller would come into my bedroom again during the middle of the night after drinking and molest me. I was just thirteen years of age when he started molesting me. My mother ignored me then abandoned me. Safely, I have been living with my dad ever since I shattered the silence.

I hope you never have to see someone in the bed of an emergency room because they tried to commit suicide. My dad, who protects me, experienced this May 26, 2010 when I tried to commit suicide. My grades had dropped and I was behind in school. My abuser continued to taunt me and my family had to move to protect me.

I am not writing you for pity. Right now, someone cries in silence and lives in fear from an abuser. I am writing you to join me and help others shatter the silence. Today, I am asking you to do something I already did for PAVE.

I met Angela Rose who founded PAVE the spring of 2012 when my friend Robin Sax, board member of PAVE, introduced us. I realized bad things happen to good people. It is what we do with this that matters. I realized we can do nothing or stand up and help others shatter the silence. Angela, a fellow victim, survivor, and advocate; needed more of us victims to join her and help others shatter the silence.
I am standing up to those who abuse, neglect and bully. To do this we need money for PAVE.

For my 17th birthday in July 2012 I celebrated I am alive and wanted to make a difference. I raised $1,724 from my friends and family for PAVE.

I am asking you to join me and donate now and help others shatter the silence.

By the way, I graduated high school more than six months early on November 5, 2012 with a grade point
average over 3.2. Your donation today will help someone like me shatter the silence.

Yours in shattering the silence,
Taylor Simpfenderfer
Bellflower California

PS: PAVE is a 501c3 nonprofit and donations can be sent to PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment - PO Box 26354, Alexandria, VA 22313 or CLICK HERE to donate online

When everyone else gives up, find your strength

I went to a very small liberal arts college in Maryland. When I say small, I’m talking under 2,000 students small.  It is the type of school where everybody knows everybody else and you would be hard-pressed to find someone you had never seen before. I can honestly say that during my four years there, I never once didn’t feel safe. It was the type of place where everyone just took care of each other.

I’m not saying that bad things didn’t happen at my school, but when they did it felt like everyone came together. I really believe that every member of my collegiate family, whether students, faculty or staff, cared by each other.

So when I read articles of college students being sexually assaulted by fellow students it always seemed so unfathomable to me.  “That must have happened at a big school,” we would always say. So, when I read a recent article in the New York Times about a sexual assault that happened at another small school, Amhurst College, I couldn’t believe it. Now listen, I’m not naïve enough to think that sexual assault doesn’t happen at every college, even my own alma mater. But what really shocked me to my core was the reaction of the college’s staff and administration.

When the student was ready to seek counseling for her assault, the staff victimized her again. She lived in the same dorm as her attacker, and when she asked to be relocated, she was told she couldn’t move because all of the buildings were full. They also told her that pressing charges would be “useless” as the student was about to graduate. They even asked her if she was “sure she had been raped.”

She could have given up. She could have accepted this as the end of her fight. Instead, this student wrote an article for her school newspaper, telling the story of not only her rape, but her encounter with the school’s staff as well. Her story gave others strength. As the New York Times’ article explains that her article “prompted other Amherst students, past and present, to step forward publicly and say that they, too, had been sexually assaulted here, treated poorly afterward, and in many cases had left campus rather than be around assailants who were allowed to remain.”

While the school’s staff may not have stood behind this victim, the student body did. This small college was outraged at the actions of its staff, and banded together to instill change. With the support of the school’s new president, real change is being made at Amhurst College. While the student no longer attends the school, I can hope that she is proud of the impact she has had there.

This article really hit home with me. It made me proud to go to a school with a staff that was always there for its students, but it also reminded of the power you need to find within yourself. This student could have so easily given up on herself when the staff turned her away. But she didn’t. She found the strength within herself to tell her story. And it changed an entire institution. When everyone else gives up on you, never give up on yourself.

I’m a big fan of quotes, and I think this one really sums up this article:

“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results… but it’s the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lost, I admire those who fight the good fight.”  – George R. R. Martin


Written by:  Alexandra L.     November 2012

PAVE Ambassador Erin Merryn honored as a Woman of the Year for Glamour Magazine!

Grab your copy of the Dec issue today! Erin continues to shatter the silence of sexual abuse and is working to protect children nationwide with her legislation Erin’s Law.

TV host Katie Couric said, “She’s taken her personal crusade and turned it into a public one. So many children will be protected because of her.” PAVE thanks Erin for her passion and energy to do this crucial work!

Standing Up For What Is Right

I recently came across an article that bewildered my mind. It actually made me stop and reflect. It made me realize that predators are everywhere; they can even be in our own homes.

A woman was in a relationship with a man. They began having problems and she no longer wanted to be in the relationship; she ended it. He didn’t take it well and wouldn’t leave. Despite all her attempts he continued to affirm the relationship. Then when sex became an issue she declined and he forced it upon her anyway.

Big Mistake!

Simply because you are in a relationship with someone, or because you have had relations with them in the past does not in any way entitle you to do it again. If a person says no, even just once, that’s it! End of story.

This man was charged for rape and sentenced to jail time.

This is a great example of peoples sense of entitlement on those they are in a relationship with. A person’s body is their own temple to do as they want with, it is never at the disposal of another, even if it is ones spouse.

There were many people’s personal opinions brought in on this case too. Many people think that it shouldn’t be a big deal for them to still be intimate but when a person declines that simply means they don’t want to. Why should she do something that she doesn’t want to do, and furthermore why should people judge her for turning him in for it. She is not causing unnecessary problems, he did! It goes back to the ideas that we teach our children; we are in charge of our own actions and we will punished when we make the wrong choices.

Written by: Ashten Meadows

October 2012

RA Dickey Story

As Major League Baseball’s regular season comes to an end, there is one player’s story that really stands out. Robert Allen “R.A.” Dickey, pitcher for the New York Mets, has a truly inspiring story. After being drafted in 1996 by the Texas Rangers, Dickey bounced from team to team with limited success. In 2010, Dickey joined with New York Mets, and broke out this year as the league’s only true knuckleballer winning 20 games in 2012.

Aside from the perseverance and determination he has shown as a pitcher and ball player, R.A. Dickey has survived much more. During his rise to baseball fame in 2012, Dickey also released his autobiography Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knucleball. In this in-depth, personal book, Dickey delves into his personal life and career.

But R.A. Dickey is more than a baseball player. He is a survivor. In his memoir, Dickey divulges two separate incidents of sexual assault suffered during the summer when he was only 8 years old — the first by a 13 year old female babysitter, and the second by a 17 year old male. Statistically speaking, 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. Of sexually abused children grades five through twelve, 48% of the boys told no one about the abuse.

In a recent article on Dickey explains his hope for the book: “One of the hopes I have for the book, and will have as long as it’s out, is that people will be able to draw something from it that may help them — whether it’s to talk about it more, not to be afraid, to be open with what’s happened, and that there are people available that will love you no matter what. I kind of grew up in a place where I didn’t necessarily feel that.”

To read an excerpt from the book, visit

Written by: Alexandra L.

Vulnerability; Don’t Let It Happen To You!

SA Ribbon Logo

"Shattering the Silence of Sexual Violence" - AUGUST 14 - Baton Rouge, LA

There was an article about a man who lured a 17 year old churchgoer into his home by telling her that he could rid her of bad spirits. He told her he could do some sort of witchcraft and rid anything bad. She believed him and went inside. He then raped her and told her that he would put a curse on her if she told anyone. He was arrested and has a 60,000 dollar bail amount.

My point to this article is that this young girl is a victim but we need to understand our own strengths and we need to be accountable for our actions. We cannot make ourselves vulnerable to these predators. However, in no way, shape, or form is this young girl to blame for anything that happened. The truth is, people should be able to dress however they want and do whatever they please and should never feel that they are “asking for it”. We need to be aware of our situations and we need to not be too trusting. I don’t believe that every person is a criminal but negligence is a powerful source for any perpetrator. We as a society need to help our youth understand that people are dangerous and that they need to be aware of their surroundings and to never enter someone’s house alone as this child did. We tell our children to never talk to strangers but where do we draw the line when it comes to trust?

Predators are in every city and could be your neighbor or your neighborhood clerk. Predators look for targets, the key is to be aware of this and do what you can to prevent it. Never enter someone’s house you don’t know alone; and especially if they are telling you something that seems too good to be true. Never walk alone at night, always be aware of your surroundings and let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to come back.



By Ashten Meadows

Through the Eyes of a Survivor Named Kendra

Many survivors find it extremely hard to open up about their own rape or sexual assault personal experience and the way that they decide to deal with the situation is different for each person. However, after talking to an amazing sexual assault survivor named Kendra Ely, you (as a reader) can get an exclusive insight to how she felt when she first came forward after approaching RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) for advice and how they helped her through the healing process. Kendra openly shared about how she felt when she first came forward.

“I was always scared and had lost my sense of security when I first came forward. It was hard for me to do it but RAINN really helped me feel comfortable about doing it and were very supportive to me at the time.” – Kendra

What Kendra was feeling at the time, is a normal part of the healing process for any survivor to go through when coming forward. The possible reason for this; is that sometimes it feels easier for a survivor to stay quiet because it is less painful and a way for them to try and forget it ever happened to them.

“To live as a sexual assault survivor I feel so ashamed. I feel people can see right through me. I feel so dirty.” – Kendra

This is a common type of coping mechanism that many survivors do to protect themselves from not only pain (both emotionally and physically) but an even bigger factor, is also because they are scared. Reasons for being scared are different for each individual survivors but for Kendra, she expressed that when she came forward, she was scared about what it will do to her as a person, how it will affect her life with future intimate relationships, how people will interact with her after finding out, and whether she can trust people especially men at all.

“After a traumatic event, it is typical to have feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, making it difficult to adjust or cope for some time afterwards. In particular, survivors of sexual violence may experience severe feelings of anxiety, stress, or fear, known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” – RAINN

No matter how badly beaten or barely showing any physical damage that is seen after surviving a rape or/and sexual assault encounter, the person attacked is always going to be scared and fearful. As soon as someone has been attacked, they instantly lose their power of control because the predator has automatically taken the control off them. Because of this, some survivors like Kendra start to feel insecure with themselves as a person and constantly put them-selves down in a negative way.

“Because your personal boundaries were invaded when you were young by someone you trusted and depended on, you may have trouble understanding that you have the right to control what happens to you.” – RAINN

By having a great organization like RAINN there for assistance as a helpful support system for survivors like Kendra, they can help get survivors past this negative way of thinking. It is the support that RAINN provides, the encouragement they share, and the hope they give to survivors, that give people like Kendra the hope and strength to overcome negative thoughts and start to move forward to thinking in a positive way.

“In most instances, the survivor never discussed the abuse with others while it was occurring. In fact, many survivors do not remember the abuse until years after it has occurred, and may never be able to clearly recall it. Usually, after being triggered by a memory, this individual learns how, as an adult, to deal with the effects of the abuse. It is important to speak with someone, whether it is a friend or counsellor, about the abuse and past and current feelings.” – RAINN

Once a survivor has their mind set on speaking in a negative way about themselves after being victimized, it is hard to go back to how they were without any help. Unfortunately this happens a lot because it is used as a defence mechanism as a way to prevent themselves (as a survivor) from getting hurt again. To a survivor like Kendra, it seems like the easiest answer and most logical choice because how they feel on the inside is generally what they are showing (physically) on the outside too. Survivors like Kendra do this because they do not feel beautiful but dirty instead as Kendra explained earlier. Just like many other survivors, they try to look less attractive in public to avoid sending out extra physical attention because it is a way of protecting themselves from being violated again. However with the help from an inspirational organization like RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network) they can help teach survivors like Kendra learn how to regain back control of their life and start to feel worthy as a person they truly are.

“It feels like I go through phases. Some days I feel like it’s all I think about and other days I doubt whether or not it even happened. I don’t feel great on the inside most of the time, especially when all I can think about is what happened to me. – Kendra

Whether it has been twenty years or a few days after being victimized, every survivor copes with it in a different way but no matter what way, the one thing that is for certain is that no survivor is at fault for what happened to them and that they are worthy. It is perfectly normal to be scared after being raped or sexually assaulted and whether you come forward straight away or twenty years later, it is never too late to get help. Organizations like RAINN are always going to be there to help and support those survivors who need it so for any reader who needs someone to talk to, please know that you can go to RAINNs online hotline at any time.

Just know: You are never alone, and it is never too late to get the help you need and deserve!

To contact RAINN:

Phone: 1 800 656 HOPE
Hotline: RAINN’s 24 Hour Hotline

Warning: New Date Rape Drug; Easier than Ever!

Warning: New Date Rape Drug; Easier than Ever!

This article is set to inform people that there is a new drug on the “market”. This drug is said to be easier to hide and access, and very much cheaper than other known “date rape drugs”. It is an eye drop that’s considered the new form of Rohypnol and it is being used to spike victims’ drinks making them much easier targets.

Police are saying that it isn’t really a problem however many people in the nightclub industry are saying a completely different story. Nightclubs are refusing to let any form of eye drops be brought into their nightclubs. Their advice: don’t accept drinks or ice cubes from strangers. They can even spike the ice cubes if they have an accomplice behind the bar. Never drink communal drinks either. “And if a friend suddenly feels ill at a party, never leave them unattended. The rapist wants to isolate her in the bathroom, where he can rape her and she won’t recall a thing.”

The eye drops are not effective unless put into alcohol, so for any sober drinker there is no way to spike their drink with this. The alcohol acts as a catalyst and the more concentrated the alcohol is the stronger the drug will hit the victim.

Symptoms are dizziness, drowsiness, diarrhea, nausea and amnesia. The effects the next day feel like a person drank ten times what they really did.

Everyone should be aware of their surroundings and no what to look for. Being informed is the first step in protecting yourself.