My name is Sandi McKenna, and this is Unforgettable Conversations. The podcast that is your roadmap to resilience, sharing, extraordinary stories from people, just like you and me who have weathered life's storms. You'll find inspiration and motivation in every episode. what would you do if you were abducted at knife point? In broad daylight. By your repeat sex offender on parole for murder. This happened to today's guest, Angela Rose. Her story is terrifying. And her experience horrific this remarkable young woman was instrumental in the capture of her perpetrator. And ever since her innovative work on the issue of sexual violence has made her a highly respected expert on sexual assault and violence prevention. She is also widely recognized as an advocate for survivor empowerment. Her efforts have been profiled by the Oprah Winfrey network, bio channel, the Today Show, Time magazine, CosmoGirl, Girl's Life magazine and CNN Headline News profiled her in their Breakthrough Women's Series. She authored the book, hope, healing and happiness going inward to transform your life. She is the founder of PAVE, a renowned speaker and an activist. She is resilient and inspiring. In this unforgettable conversation, you'll hear in her words, what happened, how she got away. The aftermath of the experience and how she reclaimed her life Angela Rose, thank you so much for being here today. You have the most unforgettable story. Your story has touched me as it has thousands of other people. I always like to start by, first of all, thanking you for having me, but for all the listeners, there's undoubtedly, possibly people who've experienced some type of trauma in your life. So before we begin, I always like to give a trigger warning. We are gonna be talking about sensitive topics today. Every person knows a survivor of some type of trauma. So we like to set that safe space, that whoever is listening, if you're triggered, you are not alone. And there are so many supportive resources out there for you, which we'll, uh, talk about as well. You were a victim of assault at 17, you were innocent. You were working in a mall at the time and you never expected this. So could you tell me a little bit about the day that this happened? The day that changed my life was a beautiful sunny summer day. It was July 13th of 1996. I had just graduated from high school. I was 17 years old and I was working at Woodfield shopping mall at this really cute little baby's clothes store. It was in the Nordstrom and Lord Taylor wing. And so we would make these beautiful baby baskets for people to take to, various different functions, baby showers and such. It was a really fun job. And I was looking forward to starting college in the fall. This particular day I was asking my boss, if I could get off work an hour early because I had a graduation party. So I had other other plans. I was so excited and, you know, usually if we would leave really late at night, typically we'd walk out with each other. Sometimes we'd have mall security, walk us out, but I don't think that there was any notion that, uh, we would be in danger in broad daylight, certainly. And that's where my story began. You're walking out to your car. I mean, it's a simple thing that thousands, probably millions of kids do throughout their lifetime. So are you aware when you're walking out to your car, that this day was gonna be different? No. And in fact, I had a CD in my hand. It was, uh, Natalie merchant. I love music. I play guitar. I sing, I love music. And as I was walking to my car, I was singing out loud and one thing that I talk to a lot of young people about is really following that inner knowing. I knew that something was wrong. As a mammal human beings are the only mammals on the planet that sometimes consciously don't listen and, you know, not blaming myself, but it is something where I felt that something was wrong. And there was a man that was following me and all of my internal alarms were blazing telling me to run. And I was embarrassed. He had heard me singing. So I felt my, you know, my cheeks were red. I was just embarrassed. And I put my key into the lock of my car and he grabbed me from behind and he put a knife to my throat and his car was parked very close to mine. And so he tried at first to get me into my car. But it wouldn't work. There was a console you know, kind of separating the, the passenger seat from the driver's seat. And his car, this was very haunting for me in the beginning because the parking lot was huge. If anybody knows, I mean, it's like any major shopping mall, it's a huge mall. And the employees had to park in a separate lot that was away from. The larger mall parking lot. And so his car was parked right by mine. And so we found out later that he had been watching me there's reports of him in the mall watching me from earlier that day. So he forces me into his car and he bounds my hands behind my back and, um, puts bandaids to conceal my eyes. And I remember, just like it was yesterday making a very profound vow to myself that if I get out of this alive, he is not gonna get away with it. And that's how I started to remember all these details because even though my eyes were taped shut, I could still see to either to the right and to the left. And so the city sticker on the windshield of his car, the beaded seat cushion, everything that I could try and remember, I was cataloging into my mind and, you know, at 17, going through that experience, not knowing is this the last day of your life? You know, it was something for me that really has changed me now in a positive way every morning, I wake up and thank God for another day. I think I've learned to not sweat the small stuff after an experience like that. So grateful for so many little gifts, the sunsets, you know, I I'm a big, uh, sunset person. And so just nature. I think that this experience has helped to me to truly appreciate life in ways that I don't think I could have ever done if that experience hadn't happened to me. So he abducts you and he puts you in his car and he just drives. And what is going through your head? I mean, you're just 17 years old. You're, you're on your way to a, to a graduation party. You're about to graduate high school. What is going through your mind at this time? At this time, I actually remember very vividly seeing an image of my mom getting a phone call that I had been murdered. And that just gave me so much strength to try and do everything I can. I'm very close to my family. We're Italian. I have two younger sisters. My mom is my best friend, and so I'm very close to my family. And so that image really helped to give me strength. So I kept trying to personalize myself. I just kept saying, you need to let me go. My parents are gonna be looking for me. I told him I wasn't gonna call the police. Which of course in my mind, I knew was a lie because I just wanted to do everything I could to try and get him to let me go. But he was so stoic, you know, I, I can remember him just having no emotion. And I think that stoicism was really frightening because there was, it seemed like he was on autopilot and. And so, yeah, I just remember driving by, we were on the expressway and all these cars are passing by and I just was wondering like, do I mouth for help? It's such a strange situation to find yourself in. And, um, you know, one point I actually had rigged my hands free and I kept him behind my back and I thought, okay, well maybe if we're on a side at street, if I rolled out, if I broke an arm or a leg, at least I'd be free. And so I just remember we were at that point, still closer to the mall. And I took a deep breath to try and open the door, but he was too fast and he grabbed me and, you know, threatened to cut my face. And, that's when I knew that this was serious, and I knew, I knew that this was not his first crime. It was just, he was so. Practiced. He was so calm. It was just, everything was so meticulous that I absolutely knew that this was not his first crime. And I told the police that that night. But anyway, so as we're driving, I just did everything I could to remember. And, um, when he pulled over to a, to a forest preserve, I had tried to catalog all of these streets. It was all these presidential streets. It was, it was up in Wakanda where I was sexually assaulted. And so, after I was assaulted, he took my keys and he wiped his fingerprints off my keys and put the keys back in my purse. And again, another clue. This guy's worried about his fingerprints. This is not his first crime. He absolutely has a rap sheet. And so he winds up driving me back, not to Woodfield, but to one Schaumberg place. And he throws me in a stairwell and for so many survivors of trauma, oftentimes we feel like an out of body experience has happened to us. We feel like we're almost looking down on ourselves. That's probably true for a lot of different types of trauma, but sexual trauma, certainly. And so I just, all at that moment, I just, everything hit me that, that experience really happened. And I remember walking down the stairs and my idea was that I was gonna call mall security, drive me back to my car so I could go home and call the police. I just wanted to be in my house. I just wanted to feel safe, but they wound up calling the police right away because my clothes were a mess. Mascara was all over my face. I mean, I definitely looked like I had been through trauma and so they wound up calling the police right there and, uh, Then I had to call my Italian father, which was the scariest phone call for any parent listening. Now that I'm a mom, like my experience has come full circle. I think about this very differently now that I'm a mom. And so my dad came right away. what was so surprising to me though, was how I was treated at the police station and how they treated my whole family. You would think when you go through trauma, first of all, I'm under 18, which means I should have automatically been interviewed at a children's advocacy center. The CACs are very trained at dealing with crimes against children. And at that point I was a child. I was 17. But they kept me in a questioning room. They would not let my mom's. See me when she finally got to the police station and that was so difficult, they threatened to kick her outta the police station. I mean, the way that my family was treated and the way that I was treated that night is just horrific. And I had to tell my story that all these police officers, the same story, nothing ever changed that I had to wait for a detective and he literally says to me that it's not like somebody's Mo to just let you go. I need to ask you a question that I called the victims that come in here. Angela, are you lying? And I said, no, are you in an abusive relationship? He said, are this arms closed? Like this? Are you in an abusive relationship? Does your boyfriend hit you? Because sometimes girls get themselves into situations and this questioning and kept going on. And I knew he didn't believe me. And so I just clenched my fists and I, I, I walked out and so. You know, what was so frustrating was like going through this experience, but it was so retraumatizing. And now I've learned doing this work now for 25 years, that sexual assault is the number one, most underreported crime. Most people are not impacted by a stranger though. That's what our parents teach us to fear. Most of the time we are hurt by somebody that we know and we trust. Whether it be a date, a coach, a teacher, a, a family member. It's somebody that is known and trusted to us. And oftentimes it's very difficult for us to report and that needs to change. So I'm very passionate about law enforcement training. Thankfully, the story has a silver lining because they were able to put two new detectives on the case. My parents did so much work. And I had incredible support from my family that so many people don't have, and that really changed the trajectory of my healing process and ultimately my life, because my parents were so supportive. My grandmother, my best friend had called me and said, Angela, I know this was hard for you, but this happened to you for a reason. And really was there just for everything for that moment on every single court hearing, it took four years to come to trial. And they were there for every single court hearing or my grandma, my grandpa, and their senior friends. We call them the senior brigade in the front row of every single court hearing. But, uh, we were able to thankfully get two new detectives on the case and they believed me. They said, Angela, we have kids of our own. We have no reason not to believe you. And until you give us a reason, not to believe you, we're gonna do everything we can. And so I did a sketch of his face with the help of the officers, and it's called an e-fit. It's basically an electronic version of the sketch and it was very new technology back in 96 and they actually ended up putting it all over the Chicago news and someone recognized him. His parole officer. And, uh, it was a very interesting thing. I had my college placement exams. This was just what, four days after I was kidnapped. My mom said, you know, you don't have to go, but I said, mom, I don't want this to completely stop my life. I said, I, I wanna go and take my college placement exams. If I fail 'em if I do terrible, then we'll cross that bridge. But I didn't want this to completely paralyze my life and to paralyze me. And so I was supposed to go to Illinois state university and I was in the midst of this huge hall of students and somebody came and said, Angela needs to grab your things. There's been a family emergency. And so we didn't know what was going on, but we had to drive three hours back and it was the longest, longest drive of my life. Just trying to figure out what the, the police told us very little. And we pulled up to the Schaumburg police station and, and there was all these. Chicago news crews in the parking lot. And I didn't know what was going on and they let us through this kind of back door. And I had to pick him out of the lineup, which I right away, was able to pick him out. And then they calmly explained that this was not his first crime. And I told them, I, I knew this. He had done this before. And they said, well, Angela, he's actually on parole for murder. And when I found out the girl that he had murdered could have been my sister, her name was Julie Angel. Her last name was Angel and I, to this day, feel like she is my guardian angel, all the work that we do. I mean, I, I never want her memory to be forgotten. And I was able to become very good friends with Julie's mom and sister who did everything they could to try and keep him in prison. They wrote letters to the parole board. I mean, as again, now as a mom, I, I feel this, this just. It's just absurd. The way that this man has just been in and out of prison, his entire life, he committed three crimes in 1980 against three different women and served 12 years rape, kidnapped murder. And this it's actually very interesting in 1980, a woman named Deborah Malanney. He kidnapped her and. He heard people coming, so he let her go. And so she filed the police report two weeks later, he got her again. So he has a, a history of stalking his victims and she was in the, the passenger seat. And she was actually on the floor and he had his hand over her head and she kept saying, I'm gonna be sick. You need to let me out. Deborah was smart. He pulls over to the side and as, as he's walking around to open the door to let her out, she jumps into the driver's seat and drives away with his car has never driven stick shift, but at that moment was able to learn and to get away with his car, with his identification, his driver's license. And that was one of the first cases in Illinois that they were able to use DNA evidence to link fiber samples from his car to Julie's body. And so they were able to, uh, convict him in that way. So there was three crimes in 1980, within a couple months span, but he was on parole for other crime in the seventies. So he's been in and outta prison his whole life. And how did he think that he kept getting off? I mean, why did they think that you could rehabilitate somebody like that? Well, that's one of the, the huge pieces of frustration that we actually took to the attorney General's office. So again, another silver lining of our experience was working with Julie's family, my family, other of his previous victims, we started a petition drive just like a month after I was kidnapped. And so many people became involved and active and I was. So inspired people put 'em on their medical office desks. I I'll never forget this woman who was like eight and a half months pregnant in that S sweltering Chicago heat was like getting signatures outside of Juul. Our local grocery store, people rallied around this and wanted to make a difference. And the good thing that came out of that experience was that now Illinois has a sexually violent person's commitment act, which says if a person is still thought to be a threat to society after their time in jail has been served. They're basically seen in front of a board of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists. And if they're thought to still be a threat, then they will be held in a mental institution to hopefully make sure that people like Copa, who abducted me. Aren't out on the streets to hurt other people. And the very first time, by the way that I came forward with my story, I, it was just the back of my head on the, um, on the news, but I made a plea for other young women to come forward. I said, I know he was only on parole for six months when he got me. I said, I know I'm not the only victim four other girls came forward. And they were much younger than I was. I met one of them was 14. So it's just amazing how one person can impact so many people's lives. But we do see that also on college campuses. For example, I don't know if you've heard of, um, so of course there's two Michigan universities, Larry Nasser, uh, the perpetrator came from one and then the other Dr. Anderson we're finding out now has abused over a thousand victims. And so these repeat offenders, we need to do a better job. Number one, recognizing warning signs, understanding what goes on in the minds of perpetrators, because so often. There's not enough research being done to find out why perpetrators perpetrate really looking at the recidivism rate of these repeat offenders to figuring out why this is happening. So we're very passionate about that and, and very passionate about law enforcement to do training, to understand what happens in the mind of the survivor. The fact that I remember details is very, very rare because of the stress hormones that get released in the survivor's brain, oftentimes survivors can't recount things chronologically. And so that can be seen in error, but as a, as a detective that might be seen as, as lying or embellishing, when it's just the fact that survivors neurobiologically because of the stress hormones, can't remember things chronologically in those moments. And so we train law enforcement to really look at these, let survivors go through the experience with all the senses, because we've seen sometimes to, it could be a sound, it could be a smell or something that can corroborate evidence that can lead to a conviction, but allowing survivors to go through the experience, using all senses and on their own time asking to stop them later. But let them go through the whole story first, instead of constantly stopping and asking them, you want them to be able to relive it, you know, as best they can with an advocate. A lot of people don't realize when you go through trauma, I didn't have an advocate the night that I was assaulted. So things have changed for the better certainly, but, uh, we still have a long way to go. It took you four years to get this case to trial. Can you explain a little bit about that? Because I mean, you have to live your life and I, I imagine that was your college years, and then you go to court and you have to relive everything yet again, and it wasn't an easy trials. So how did that work for you? Well, it was interesting. I was supposed to go to Illinois state, as I mentioned, and I wound up going to a community college, the college of DuPage, just because I needed to stay home, to, to deal with all these court hearings. And about two years in my DA sat down with me and he was wonderful. He said, Angela, I want you to move on with your life. I want you to go away to school. I want you to, you know, have everything that a college kid should have that experience. So I wound up going away to, uh, the university of Wisconsin, Madison, which for me, was an amazing fit. It had a long history of activism and it just, you know, the amazing things that have happened at that university really ignited my soul. And so one of the reasons the case took so long to come to trial was all of these strange motions. And so the length of the blade that he used to kidnap me needed to be four inches for it to be a class X felony. So in the state of Illinois, basically the, the, the law is if you have three class X felonies, Then you are in jail for life. He already had two. So the armed violence charge would be the, the class X felony. And so the length of the blade needed to be four inches, which it was, but the rated part of the blade, it was 3.75 inches. So one of the judges threw it outta court. I mean, even if, even as a teenager, I'm thinking if he stabs it's going in four inches. I mean, I just thought it was so absurd. My whole family, I mean, it was just absurd. And so it went to a higher court where we petitioned and it was unanimously reinstated, but again, it just, all of these things just kept taking more time and more time. And then at the end of when we were about to come to trial, he was about to plea bargain. I had mixed feelings. Number one. Yes, of course. It's terrifying to go in front of a bunch of strangers and relive the scariest most humiliating day of your life, especially in front of the perpetrator that hurt you. But they're also, for me, I kind of there's healing and justice, right? So I did kind of want my moment to be able to tell the court, this is what he did to me, but then they told me that he was possibly gonna plea bargain and there would be no trial. So there was just so many mixed emotions. And in that time I had started PAVE as a student organization at the university of Wisconsin Madison. And, uh, it was just amazing to see the amount of students. We were hoping for like 12 students to come to our kickoff meeting. We had almost 80 students come. And so I realized that, wow, this really so many people were impacted by issues of sexual trauma. But most of the time, as I mentioned, it's somebody that they know and they trust. And there were so many men that were speaking out and disclosing to me that they had been through trauma. And I thought, wow, how can this be so widespread? But it's so silent. So our motto with PAVE was shattering the silence of sexual violence, because so many of us feel the shame and this defilement where it's like you, that shame is not mine. I didn't do this, but society makes us feel like it's our fault. They asked me in court, what I was wearing, you know, should that make a difference? Absolutely not, you know, we do a lot of sexual harassment training for corporations talking about, you know, language and what to say and what not to say and how to support survivors when they disclose, because people are gonna talk to people at work and, you know, it's really creating that safe space for survivors to thrive. And, um, so yeah, it was, the court process was, was a very interesting thing. And you gave an impact statement and was that liberating for you at that point? It certainly was. I mean, being able for survivors and, and I found out actually recently, I, I interviewed my DA for a book that I've been working on and I didn't know this, but that time, like victim impact statements were very new back in 1996. Like my case was one of the first cases they were, they allowed victim impact statements to be read in court. And, and, uh, I. Thought that had been something that had been done for decades who knew. And so I was able to really put into words how that crime impacted my life and my family. You know, at that time I would still walk with my hand over my throat. I constantly felt like somebody was behind me. I had a lot of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. And it's funny because when you're in it, you can't see it. Like, I didn't realize that when I would wash my face at night and feel this person behind me and that, that was from the trauma of the kidnapping. It's like, it's so obvious later. And so obvious to me now, but when you're in things, you often can't see it. And so, you know, I was able to kind of articulate some of the ways in which this crime has derailed my life and how, you know, difficult it was to heal. And before I gave the victim impact statement, before I read it, I was sworn in which I thought was strange. I've never heard of that before. And so they put me on the witness stand to read the victim impact statement. And then I was about to stand up and to walk back to my seat and the defense attorney stopped me and said, I'd like to cross examine the witness. Now I mind you the trial's been over. That was over months ago. This was the sentencing hearing. This is not the trial I had already given my testimony. He was found guilty. Now it's how much time is he gonna serve in prison? And, uh, I just. It was shocked and I was just frozen in fear and the DA of course stands up. He goes, no, you know, you can't do that. And, and they, the judge wound up letting it happen. And so he cross examined me on my victim impact state and saying, well, you know, basically saying that I still have full functioning use of my body, that I wasn't dead, or, you know, incapacitated and mean just really tried to downplay the damage that this crime had caused me. And it was really infuriating to say the least. But I think that the judge probably had to let it, uh, happen because he didn't wanna have anything come back. Our hope was that the judge wanted to make sure that, uh, there wasn't gonna be any chance for any type of, motion of, or anything to try and hinder this, uh, from just being closed and from part being able to move forward. And he was sentenced on that day. And, and what was his sentence? His sentence was life in prison and it was, it was either on or the day after Julie Angel's birthday. And I remember just hugging Joyce and just thinking, oh, and then Joyce just said like, what a birthday gift for her daughter, you know? Oh, the only time I get emotional, when I'm talking about this experience is talking about Julie, because you know, it's like, I am a mom, I have a beautiful life. I have an amazing husband and I, you know, I get to enjoy sunsets and there's so much of life that she never got chance to enjoy. So, anyway, I'm sorry. It's the only time that I get emotional about what happened is when I think about, you know, her and also he was a suspect in other crimes that he was never convicted of, um, of other murders that he was a suspect in. So, you know, I don't think we're really ever going to know the true depth, the amount of people that he has hurts. I did try and write him a letter in prison. I wanted, I had a lot of unanswered questions. But he never wrote me back, but I, I did reach out to him in prison cuz I had some questions that I wanted answered and I tell survivors just like I'm telling myself a lot of times we just need to be okay with the fact that we are gonna have a lot of questions and we just need to be okay with the fact that we're just gonna have to let it go. You know? And, and, and I did forgive him now. Forgiveness is not for everybody and every point of their journey, but for me personally, Like, I believe in, in law attraction, I'm a big believer in a, you know, a lot of different universal laws and sort of what, you know, takes a lot of energy to hate. And so I forgave not for him, but for myself to free my soul and to, you know, allow more love into my life because we found out that he had suffered. And again, this is not known or to excuse his behavior, but we did find out during the process of court that he had a lot of abuse in his past. That his parents were very abusive. There was a lot of sexual trauma that he had witnessed. And from his dad to his mom, there was, you know, a lot of things that had happened in his life. So again, does not condone that behavior, but we do need to understand why perpetrators perpetrate. I think we need to have a lens of, and I don't wanna say compassion, but, um, but understanding of, of why these things happen. It's unbelievable. I mean, just unbelievable. The other thing I wanna ask you about which you alluded to before was PAVE. Yes. And you started that as a college student and a victim, but PAVE is not about, you know, wallowing in being a victim. It is empowering yourself. It is empowering victims. And I think it is so amazing that you did this and was that all part of your healing to create this amazing organization? Certainly I always talk about for survivors turning their anger into action can be so healing. And I talk about shattering the silence doesn't have to be public speaking. I mean, I, that's certainly not for everybody telling their story is not for every person, but finding ways to get it out of you, whether it be through poetry or music, you know, I've transformed a lot of my pain and some music, you know, finding ways to express. And so we've done a lot of these wonderful healing seminars where it's, you know, dance therapy and. Art therapy and, just finding different ways to move and to, to really reclaim your body. Because for so many people that have been through trauma, it's like you lose that body autonomy and finding ways to really reengage with your body in a healthy way. So founding PAVE was absolutely a huge step in my healing process and knowing that I could help other people, hopefully, not only prevent this. So we do a lot of prevention work, not only on college campuses in the military. You know, in corporate America, but also now in the K through 12 space, because we started to do a lot of work in the prevention world. We contributed to the white house task force to protect students from sexual assault and all the research was telling us the best way to prevent it. And all these arenas that we were working in. Is to start the conversation younger. And what sets PAVE apart I think one of our unique selling propositions is our positive approach. I feel like, you know, the nuance of language, people don't wanna be against sexual violence. I think people would rather be for consent, healthy relationships. Bystander intervention, supporting survivors, cyber safety. So that's a lot of the, the learning objectives that we put into our K through 12 programming. And you can teach consent. I mean, I have a two year old son and a five year old daughter, we teach consent. You know, it's just about respect and asking. I mean, even, you know, doesn't have to be in a sexual way, but talking about consent, like, can I, can I hold your hand? I ask my kids like, can I hug you? And if they say no, like respect that. And I think it's really important to teach children very early on that they are in control of their bodies. And, uh, so that's been really exciting. And so that's one side of PAVE is the prevention work, the training, the education, social advocacy is the second pillar of PAVE. We do a lot of online work and, and, you know, just trying to elevate, we've done a lot of work with the Cosby case. I was there with Andrea Constant the survivor through the experience of going through trial, which was very difficult, but then also the survivor support the empowering survivors at scale. So yes, we do some one on one support, but really our work is at scale creating really wonderful workshops, trauma, sensitive yoga breathwork um, you know, we've created this platform now that we launched after cOVID kind of in the, kind of in the midst of COVID really cuz so many survivors were just so will retraumatize because of the pandemic. So many survivors of domestic violence were trapped with their perpetrators, same thing for child abuse. So. Anyway, we created this really powerful platform that we launched in New York city in December with a big billboard. It was very exciting. Thanks to color street nails, our sponsor, but it was, uh, survivors.org. And so we have over, I think now 1400 local partner agencies across the country to help survivors with human trafficking, sexual violence, domestic violence, anything from legal to medical, to emotional, because. There's not a one size fits all for a survivor's journey. And so we wanna help people understand that there's so many different resources for every step of the way. And how can somebody recognize? I think that's one of the things that, you were talking about bystanders. Yes. Are there things that people can recognize if somebody is a victim of, um, abuse in any way at all? Oh, absolutely. And so we do a lot of training on that. So number one, if there's a, like a dating or sexual assault survivor, and we see a lot of isolation, we see a lot of alcohol and drug abuse. We see a lot of, uh, risky behavior, even not wearing seat belts. It's just strange, you know, you, there's a lot of things. And again, Everybody's journey is different. So I'm just kind of giving you a, a list of there's one survivor that we worked with that talked so beautifully and poetically about her eating disorder. You know, she was abused by, uh, somebody that was in her church. She was about four or five years old and her parents kind of shoved it under the rug. They didn't really want her to talk about it. So even when she was in high school and onto college, she still had all these feelings that had been blocked inside of her. And the way she dealt with it is she would starve herself, because that was her way of being able to control her body in a way that she hadn't been able to control her body before, during the abuse. And after she received healing and treatment for the eating disorder and she was down to like 70 pounds. Then she began to cut herself because she talked about how physical pain is so much easier to understand the, an emotional pain. You know, she would look at these scars on her wrists and say, that's how much I hurt. And so we do see a lot of, of self mutilation. So there's a lot of different warning signs. A lot of people don't wanna wanna rock the boat. We don't know what to say, but just to be a listening ear and just to say, listen, have you been through something like talk to me, you know, and, and help them find local resources. Just being a listening ear can make all the difference in the world and be aware, not to use victim blaming language, not to ask what they were wearing or why they were there or what they did to deserve it. Because I, I can remember just my own self feeling like I had done something to deserve this experience. And there was nothing that do you know, to ask for, or these experiences. And one thing that I'm very passionate, the definition of consent. When you look at both Cosby trial and the Weinstein trial, there was one question that both juries asked the judge, and that is when they were deliberating. They came back and asked the judge, well, what's the definition of consent? Do you know what the judge said? He said, well, use your best judgment in common sense, because there is no definition of consent. So PAVE is partnered with the consent awareness network to codify the definition of consent. Our goal is in every state across the country, because that is so important. When we talk about consent, especially with high school students, we like to use, uh, before you make your move, remember, consent moves. It's mutual. Ongoing verbal, enthusiastic and sober. We see on college campuses. So many times perpetrators using alcohol as a weapon or drugs as a weapon, trying to get people incapacitated by an intocicant to take advantage of them. it's really important for us to understand what to look for and how to respond. And if somebody's incapacitated, I would assume that that means it would be assault at that point. Correct. Now it depends on the legal definition. So when I was in Wisconsin, one of the laws we worked on, it said that in the Wisconsin statute, if a person is rendered incapacitated by an intoxicant then it's second degree sexual assault. And it said in the statute, alcohol is not an intoxicant. And it took us two years to try and fight that. And like boating, driving alcohol is certainly an intoxicant. Um, but that was a, that was really tough for people to, you know, to understand. And like, I don't see how that is such a tough thing to wrap your mind around. I lived in Wisconsin for many years. It's a big drinking culture and, you know, there was a lot of money and involved with, the alcohol, just that business behind it. And so it took a long time for us to change that law. So PAVE doesn't do a lot of legislative work, but when it impacts survivors, we do, action alerts and try and get people to try and make a difference in their own community. Online, Has exploded. Everybody has access to online. So cybersecurity is something that is key. How can we be aware of, you know, children or teenagers if they're in danger? How does one recognize that? I live in a bedroom community and yet there is so much human trafficking here. Yes. Human trafficking happens in every community across the country. People think that it's over there and it is right here in our backyards. And so a lot of people will prey on younger survivors that. You know, are walking in a mall. There was a case that we, knew about in Virginia, where it was just at a shopping mall at risk youth are targeted. So a couple things in terms of cyber safety, number one is knowing what your children are doing online and talking to them about cyber safety. We're doing a lot of student parent nights in the Chicago area, April, which is sexual assault awareness month and child abuse prevention awareness month. And so we're doing a lot of work talking to parents. And teens about cyber safety. Also catfishing is when somebody pretends to be somebody that they're not There's so many different stories where somebody poses to be a teenager, when it turns out they're a middle aged man trying to pray on a young person. And that's terrifying. So knowing what your child is doing online, there's ways in which you can make a sure that you've got, you know, so many phones and computers have safety measures that you can enact. So, you know, Just researching that and making sure you understand. But one thing that I'm very passionate about that people don't wanna talk about is the impact of pornography on children. The average age of children coming in contact with a pornographic film or image is age seven to nine nationally. And so people don't wanna talk to their kids about this because they feel like, oh my gosh, how do you do it? But it is changing the wiring of brains, the porn addiction and the impact of violence escalating after watching porn. I've gone to a lot of these, seminars about the impact of this. What's on the internet is not healthy, safe, sexual relations. It's very violent. It's, you know, non-consensual sometimes. So we need to talk to our children about these things and, you know, again, Finding ways to talk to them in a safe space. Sometimes it's just like, as you're driving a soccer practice, when you're both looking ahead, sometimes that's easier for students to engage with, you know, their parents to talk about consent and healthy relationships and body safety and even nuanced language, you know, for, for childhood sexual abuse. It's not good touch, bad touch because for kids, it can be very confusing. It may feel physically good, but it's not safe. So we like to use the term safe versus unsafe touch safe versus unsafe secrets. One of our PAVE ambassadors is Aaron Marin who passed Aaron's law, thinking 35 states across the country. Illinois was first, but it promotes body safety. Educate in schools in age appropriate ways. And so I'm very passionate about making sure that parents understand that it's, it's our job as parents to talk to our kids about these things and, and looking at those gender stereotypes, we do typically tend to raise our boys and girls very differently. Like I mentioned, I have a daughter and a son, and I wanna make sure that they both understand that, you know, girls can be very strong and, it's okay for boys to cry and to feel emotion, you know, toxic masculinity is something that we tackle in our, uh, programs with men. And so anyway, I can go on and on, but there's a lot of work that needs to be done and we truly be leave that we can change the culture if we all work together and starting with education. That's right. So tell me, how can people help you and help your cause and help, your passion PAVE. how can people get involved? Well, we would love to be invited to anybody who's listening that has a relationship with the school invite PAVE to come in. We found it much easier for us to start by doing a parent student night. A lot of times, school districts are a little nervous at first, but when they see our, and they hear what we're doing, then they have us come in to train all the students as well. And so that's number one is invite us to come speak to your school. We do a really robust sexual harassment training because most of the time, if any of you have been corporate America, they roll their eyes. They're like, oh, another sexual harassment training, but we use real survivor's voices. And we talk about creating a healthy, happy workplace. And so I, I train the cast and crew of Hamilton on Broadway. You've done work in, in different arenas, but focusing on the positive, how to create a happy and healthy workplace. So that's another way, of course, with your wallet, donating to PAVE to support our mission of course, is another big one. Shattering the silence.org, educating yourself. We have free courses on our pave university through shattering silence.org and educating yourself on how to be a supportive person if somebody discloses, knowing what to say or do, you can also engage with us on social media at PAVE INFO, Facebook, Instagram. Twitter at pave info is our handle for all of those. April, like I said, is sexual assault awareness month. Also child abuse awareness month. There's so many different ways to get involved, share our posts, you know, on social media. We have a really incredible social media director who, creates these very impactful and powerful educational posts. So be a, a part of the solution. Angela Rose is one of the most resilient women. I know. I am in awe of how she has helped countless women and men to shatter their silence and reclaim their lives. April is sexual assault awareness month. Listen. Believe support survivors. Statistics are staggering. One in four male and one in three female victims have completed or attempted rape first experienced at between the ages of 11 and 17. And sexual harassment, assault and abuse can happen anywhere, including online spaces. Educating yourself as key, learn the reasons and methods to safely help friends and family who find themselves in difficult situations. Learn how to define consent and how to get and give consent. Join the movement. Through shattering the silence.org. You can support survivors in several ways. You can donate to their cause. Sponsor a survivor, attend their events, take their online courses. Or even start your own healing circles. I'll leave all the links in the show notes.