I’m going to read you some lines from a children’s book that is saving lives; not metaphorically saving them but actually saving them. Right this minute.
“He said I would get into big trouble if I told anyone… I never wanted to be bad.
He said I would upset a lot of people if they knew what I had done… I didn’t want to make anyone cry.
He made hurts in place where Band-Aids could not reach… I tried to heal the pain but I wasn’t strong enough.”
These are thoughts no child should ever have. But statistics show us that a shockingly high number of Australian boys and girls will be sexually abused as children.These words are from a new children’s picture book called A Secret Safe To Tell, by Naomi Hunter. It’s the most remarkable kid’s book published in a long time; if I could hand-deliver a copy to every family in Australia, I would. It’s that important.
The book follows a little girl’s thought process as she makes an adult friend, decides to trust and even love him, hides the way he hurts her, and ultimately realises it’s safe to tell a grown-up what she’s been through.
Naomi Hunter wrote it for girls like herself. She’s 30 years old now and still trying to deal with the trauma of being abused as a child. As so many good people say, Naomi tells me that when she wrote this book, she’d be happy if it changed the life of just one child.
That one child has already come forward.
Just yesterday, Naomi got a text message from a friend saying that a little girl has told her parents she was being abused by a family friend, right after reading A Secret Safe To Tell.
“That was a huge moment for me, I was overwhelmed with emotion,” Naomi tells me. “From day one of writing, I knew that if I helped just one child feel less alone, less scared, less isolated, then I’d be happy. When I got that news, I ran to my husband and I said, ‘we’ve reached the one, we did it’. Now that child doesn’t have to go through any more days of fear. She won’t be in my situation at 30, trying to come to terms with it now. That was so healing for me.”
Hopefully, this book will be healing for children long before they reach adulthood, like Naomi.