Posted by: speakoutservices | May 31, 2011

Liberty and Justice for All: Remembering the Fallen

Author’s Note:  These thoughts are excerpts of a keynote I presented at The Dayton, Ohio, 2006 Child Abuse Healing Field where 1400 full-sized flags were placed high on the hill of the Masonic Temple overlooking the city.  The flags represented the number of children who died that year in the United States from child abuse.

“Indivisible with liberty, and justice for all…”

All of us have repeated these words with our hands held across our hearts while we face our nation’s flag.  The Pledge of Allegiance has been memorized and repeated since our earliest school days.  It is a vow of loyalty to these higher principles symbolized in red, white, and blue. 

Nothing tests the principles of unity, liberty, and justice more than war.  It is therefore fitting that all memorials to war veterans are commemorated in the presence of our flag.  This weekend in a powerful display of 1400 flags, you have come to intimately know the war of child abuse.  And you have honored the casualties of that war who died before they ever really lived.  So in a bizarre twist of fate, the flag now flies for those who appear to have had no liberty and no justice.

I come before you today as a veteran of this war.  Like the young we memorialize, I too was only but 4-years-old when the nightmare of incest entered my life.  The father who I loved and adored was the same man who I hated and feared. This is the damaging paradox that most abused children live with everyday.  I believe this betrayal above all else had the most lasting and profound negative effect on the rest of my life.  And I could spend my precious time with you showing you my war wounds and the scars that will always be there.  But instead I want to share my miraculous journey of liberty and justice.

During the worst moments of the war I fought, when the physical and psychological pain was more than I could bear, there was a distinct presence with me.  I can only define it as a great force of pure love; a force that surrounded my soul and bore the brunt of the pain.  Its presence reassured me I was not alone.  Once I became an adult, I began to recognize this force of love ever present in my life.  It showed up as the teacher who encouraged me, the counselor who listened, the friend who was my rock, and the neighbor who offered safe harbor.  This love guided me to just the right support group meetings where by “coincidence” I heard the exact things I needed to hear.  It placed the book in my hand when I was in need of information.  It provided the peace of nature so I could listen inside myself to its calling and guidance.

Throughout my years and years of intense healing work, this force guided me from a place of intense rage and vengefulness, to a place of complete peace and forgiveness – to a place of liberty.  And this love called me to speak out, to train others how to recognize abused children, and to stand before you today with the message that justice can be found in the transformational power of love.  A love so powerful and amazing it can turn a severely broken and deeply wounded child into a strong, loving and confident woman.  A woman who now experiences the ultimate justice by rearing two beautiful children in a home free from violence.  All that I am and all that ever I hope to be is because of the miracle of love.

Yes, liberty and justice are possible, even for the 1400 little souls we have honored this weekend.  I believe that as it was for me, so it was for them – that in their greatest moments of need the force of love liberated them from pain and isolation.  I take comfort in the conviction that they did not die alone.  And if we become unified and indivisible in our allegiance to our living children, their loss, though it will never be okay, will not be in vain.  Good has already evolved from this tragedy because we are all here today to stand together and work together on behalf of the children we can save.

Today my hope is that you can pledge allegiance to the force of love in your life.  It matters not what you call it or the path you take to find it – it is enough just to honor it and allow it to work with you and through you.  Allow the force of love to direct you to one step you can take on behalf of children.  I believe action based in love is the only way out of this war called child abuse.  It is our true key to becoming indivisible and offering liberty and justice for all.



  1. Thank you for this. From a heart of someone who has not only been wounded in a horribke way but saw many whi did not survive to grow up and have a chance to heal…

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