Speaker shares battle with Child Abuse at Champion for Children conference
ABILENE, Texas – An Abilene Christian University graduate stood in front of a room full of child abuse prevention professionals and detailed her battle with child abuse as part of her keynote address Friday.
Jennifer Sterling said she suffered with abuse for as long as she can remember. She said some of her earliest memories are of her mother yelling at her, her older brother molesting her and her father’s sickness.
Sterling was the keynote speaker for the 18th annual Champion for Children conference, where child care, child prevention and law enforcement professionals come together to train and discuss solutions for child abuse in the Big Country.
Abilene Mayor Norm Archibald was among many city leaders present at the luncheon. He said there were 462 child abuse cases in 2016 in Taylor County. Taylor County Sheriff Detective John Graham said that number is high because of the number of cases being reported, not because of an increase in children being abused.
One of the biggest concerns for Sterling, who is a social worker in Fort Worth, is children who end up in situations like hers.
She said although a number of reports were filed on her behalf, she had denied all abuse when asked. Statistically Sterling said one in 10 children share their outcries.
“I always felt so completely ashamed of it and so responsible for it, I never told anyone,” Sterling said.
When Sterling was 17, her best friend’s parents took her in and she was able to break through her situation. Since then, she graduated from ACU with a graduate degree, and she and her husband have now been certified to become foster parents themselves.