Jennifer Wortham, Dr.PH, is the chair and co-founder of the April 8 World Day for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse. Her story reminds us of the tragic impact this global public health crisis has on our society:
Child sexual abuse impacts every aspect of a person's life. It negatively affects one's self esteem and taints their ability to experience love.
In the fall of 1993, my family discovered that our parish priest sexually abused both of my brothers as young boys. The discovery of the abuse, and the events that followed, destroyed my family. My mother never forgave herself for the trauma my brothers experienced. My grandparents died with sorrow in their hearts, knowing their beloved grandson’s lives had been destroyed by someone they deeply trusted. My brothers’ children have also suffered as they watched their fathers struggle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD – leaving a legacy of emotional baggage likely to haunt our family for generations to come.
In 2015, I began a journey of healing that brought me back to the Catholic Church. I met with Pope Francis to share my story of faith and reconciliation and bring him a message of hope. Upon my return, I was inspired to find a way to help others whose lives had been impacted by child sexual abuse, and I discovered there were many survivors like me working to bring an end to this global public health crisis. Together we formed the April 8 Global Collaborative to establish a World Day for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.
Please support our team of brave and inspiring survivors, religious leaders, child advocacy groups, community leaders, academic institutions, and volunteers by helping to share this message with others.