Stolen Innocence: Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse: A Memoir

Stolen Innocence: Triumphing Over a Childhood Broken by Abuse: A Memoir

by Erin Merryn

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Eleven-year-old Erin Merryn's life was transformed on the night she was sexually abused by her cousin, someone she loved and trusted. As the abuse continued, and as she was forced to see her abuser over and over again in social situations, she struggled with self-doubt, panic attacks, nightmares and the weight of whether or not to tell her terrible secret. It wasn't until a traumatic series of events showed her the cost of silence that she chose to speak out-in the process destroying both her family and the last of her innocence.
Through her personal diary, written during the years of her abuse, Erin Merryn shares her journey through pain and confusion to inner strength and, ultimately, forgiveness. Raw, powerful and unflinchingly honest, Stolen Innocence is the inspiring story of one girl's struggle to become a woman, and a bright light on the pain and devastation of abuse.

Stolen Innocence is written with conviction and clarity. [Erin Merryn] doesn't hold back, and I respect her honesty and openness...By the end of the book, I thought I was reading passages from a much older adult than a high school senior. Erin has grown into a strong, wise, intelligent, perceptive, spiritual, caring adult."
—Susan Reedquist, The Children's Advocacy Center

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757399541
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 252
Sales rank: 406,846
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Erin Merryn is an author, activist, speaker, wife, and mom to young human children and a fur baby named Bailey. She was named Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year in 2012 and a People magazine Hero Among Us for her tireless work promoting Erin's Law nationwide with a mission to our keep children safe by educating them about personal body safety. She is the author of Stolen Innocence, Living for Today, and An Unimaginable Act.

Read an Excerpt


'A child's innocence is priceless.'

Author unknown


May, 1996 8:00 p.m.
On Wednesday, January 30th, 1985 my mom went into labor. Fifty-seven hours later she gave birth to me at home all naturally on a waterbed. She decided with all her pregnancies not to take any medication for pain. I was twenty-one inches long and eight pounds eight ounces. My parents named me Erin Merryn, pronounced Mur-rin, but my dad's family pronounced it Mare-in. 'Erin Mare-in.' They thought it was funny. My middle name was changed to Elizabeth a month later. I like Merryn better. As a baby I was very shy and quiet until around two and a half years of age when I started talking and wouldn't stop. I would talk to just about anyone I saw. At three years old a priest told me his name was Father Deimer. I asked him 'Whose father?' and he answered me that he was everyone's father, my father, my parents' father, my grandparents' father and even their parents' father! I gave him a funny look and said, 'Who are you God?' Everyone got a good laugh especially since it was coming from a three year old. I was considered a daddy's girl from the start. I'd always be sitting by the door waiting for daddy to come home. My mom was a stay-at-home mom raising three girls. I was the middle child. I always enjoyed my mom's macaroni and cheese, which included a song my mom made up that we would sing at lunchtime. Dad works hard running his own business. As a little girl I'd look forward to my kiss, hug, and a high five I received from my dad before he left for work. My sisters are Allie and Caitlin. Allie is two years younger then I. Caitlin is the oldest and three years older than I. My childhood has been filled with trips to the zoo, amusement parks, beaches, trips to Michigan to camp and visit the sand dunes. I never had to go far to have fun. In my own back yard were a swing set, playhouse, and a huge wooden sandbox my mom made and filled with sand. My street was filled with children so anyone who drove down it could hear the screams and laughter of kids. Down the street lived three boys around my age and they were friends of Allie and me. Across the street lived Caitlin's best friend, Carey. The two of them were inseparable. The sidewalks down our street were designed with colorful sidewalk chalk drawings and the driveways were filled with bikes, wagons, and strollers. When it was time to leave for school, the neighborhood kids would meet at our house and my sisters and I would walk with everyone. There was a park down the street from our house that all the neighborhood kids would play at. We would also ride our bikes or roller skate in the tennis court. Summer is the season I've looked forward to most. Running around the neighborhood barefoot with my sisters and neighborhood friends. The hot summer days are always spent in the backyard in the sprinkler or plastic pool. Most of my weekends are spent in Wisconsin at my cottage, which my parents bought when I was one year old. Two years ago I experienced my first big adjustment. WE MOVED! It wasn't far from where I grew up. It is still in the same town and only about five minutes away. The new house backed up to a pond and has a path that leads to the elementary school. Not only did I have to get used to living in a new house, but also a new school. My best friend was moving too, but she was moving all the way to Arizona. Her name was Shannon and I haven't heard from her since I moved two years ago. Although the move was difficult I adjusted well and soon made a new best friend. Her name was Jessica and she was the first one to talk to me when I started my first day at the new school. She was in my class and it was the start of a friendship. The summer after our move we spent most of our time going to our summerhouse and playing at the beach. I also brought Jessica up to Wisconsin where we were dressed in matching red, white, and blue dresses for the annual forth of July parade at the beach. My mom had made the dresses. After a summer of going to the pool, my Wisconsin cottage, fishing in the pond, and the summer day camp run by the park district, it was time for another school year to begin. Another person that came into my life when we moved was Emily. She moved across the street a week after we moved in. So she was new to the neighborhood, too. My sister Allie and I became really good friends with Emily, spending most our time hanging out with her. Early in the school year I learned that Jessica's dad's job was being transferred to Indiana. It was very sad and it was at this time in my life I began to realize that life isn't always fair.

Today I am eleven years old. My mom bought this diary for me at the mall today while shopping with my sisters and me. I live in Illinois and spend a lot of my time in Wisconsin. Both my parents come from large families, but it is my dad's family that we are close with. They all live very close. My Aunt Mary and Uncle Scott live just down the path from us. They have four boys. Jake is their baby. Then there is David, Mike, and Brian the oldest. Mike is my age and Brian is a couple years older then I. I sometimes spend more time at their house than my own since they live so close. My dad comes from a family of seven kids. So during the holidays it is a house full of people. At my summer house I spend the day at the beach, on the boat or in town. At night we do campfires and roast marshmallows while mom tells ghost stories. I love watching the sunset or lying under a blanket of stars in the sky at night. During winter we come to Wisconsin and either go on our snowmobiles, if there is enough snow, or go into town and see the ice sculptures. I also like building snowmen or catching snowflakes with my tongue.
As far as school goes I am about to finish fourth grade. I had an awesome teacher this year. Her name is Mrs. Ackman and she has been the greatest. We just went on our school field trip to Springfield. We took a coach bus and left at six in the morning. We saw some interesting places. My favorite was Lincoln's Memorial. For dinner we stopped and ate at an Old Country Buffet. I sat with all my friends. We didn't get home until after ten. My dad had to come get me off the bus since I'd fallen asleep on the way home. The next day at school all we did was talk about Springfield and watch movies. All together it was a fun experience. One I will look back on for years. I do very well in school except for math. I struggle with all the equations. I would rather spend my time daydreaming then learning my multiplication tables. Reading and writing are my favorite. Well, it is getting late so I better end this here for the night. I need to get some sleep. My prayers tonight are for all the sick children who are in hospitals and aren't fortunate like me to have such a happy and healthy life. Good night!


June, 1996 4:15 p.m.
It's the last day of school. I am sad because I have made so many new friends this year. One of my very best friends this year was the new girl, Asha. She has very long black hair. Hopefully we will have fifth grade together. I am going to miss Mrs. Ackman, but she told me I have a great teacher for next year. I am excited for summer to spend it going up to Wisconsin. I can't wait to go to the beach. My uncle and dad take my sisters and I along with our cousins tubing. I tend to go very slow because I am terrified of speed. My sister Allie and I bring up our best friend, Emily. Emily is Allie's age, but we both hang out with her. Emily likes to do lemonade stands with us during the summer. We even sell homemade peanut butter cookies that my mom baked. My grandparents also have a summerhouse and condo in Wisconsin. All my other cousins stay at my grandparents' house when they come up. My Aunt Jenny is getting married next month and I'm a flower girl. My sister Allie and our cousin Molly are also flower girls. A bunch of my relatives are flying in from around the country for the wedding. My mom just came in my room and told me to pack my suitcase for Wisconsin. I'll write more later.


June, 1996 6:20 p.m.
My summer is going good. Today was a fun day. Allie, Emily and I spent the day playing with our dolls. We took them on walks in our strollers to the park and pushed them in the swings. When we came home we played school. I was the teacher and they were my students. We played for a ­couple hours and then Emily had to go home for dinner. She is coming back later to spend the night. My sister just came in my room to tell me dinner is ready. We are having chicken pot pie, one of my favorites.


July, 1996 10:05 p.m.
Well, my Aunt Jenny got married. It was a fun wedding. Being a flower girl was exciting. There were hundreds of people there. The reception was the best part of the wedding. We did a lot of dancing and didn't get home until really late. It was a night to remember. We later went up to Wisconsin and went over to a house where relatives were renting. We did a bunch of dancing and videotaped the whole party. The fourth of July was also spent in Wisconsin. Our private beach association does a parade each year. We decorate our golf cart and wear our American dresses in the parade. After the parade we eat hotdogs and spend the rest of the day at the beach swimming. Our beach has a slide and a pier that has a diving board and then a raft you have to swim to that has another diving board that is a high diving board. I play a water game with my cousins and sisters called, 'rag tag.' It is like the game tag, but instead you have a rag you throw at a person. We also play king of the raft and chicken fights on the diving board. So far my summer has been a blast. This week I am having a lemonade stand with Emily and Allie. We are also walking to the store and going shopping together. I'll write more another day. Good night.


July 1996 10:45 p.m.
I'm having such a fun summer. I spent the weekend at the beach and then had a huge campfire at my grandparents' house in Wisconsin with all my cousins. Tonight I went to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Scott's house and while the adults played cards I played in the basement with all my cousins and sisters. We then got into wrestling and I was beating up my older cousin Brian and my other cousin Mike. Brian is stronger than I, but he let me win. We then had foosball tournaments against each other. Allie and Mike went against Brian and me. Brian and I won. We then watched a really scary movie on television until it was time to go home. It was a fun night!



©2008. Erin Merryn. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stolen Innocence. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

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Stolen Innocence 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
sassypickle More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, there will be no doubt in the reader's mind what Erin went through. The author writes about her feelings in detail and does so repeatedly. It's a sad account of a little girl's childhood irreparably broken at the hands of a family member. The book could have been better edited as there are a lot of mistakes. Of course, anyone can read this book but the writing style is that of an adolescent and would be a great read especially for pre-teens and young adults.
Tracie723 More than 1 year ago
I found this book very inspirational. I read it in one day! I never realized the true power of forgiveness. Although I wasn't sexually abused, I endured verbal and physical abuse throughout my childhood at the hands of my father. I have never forgivin him and still carry alot of pain and anger. This book has got me thinking that maybe its time to let go and work on finding the strength to forgive. Thank you Erin.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally a book that takes you through the emotional journey of childhood sexual abuse. This book will be helpful for those who have suffered this trauma and those who are trying to understand the pain a victim goes through. Erin is courageous to share her journal through her process from trying to keep the secret to her recovery. Thanks Erin for your honesty and openess. This book is a true gem.
Terry Campanella More than 1 year ago
This book was a huge eye opener for me I now have a clear understanding of what its like to live the life of abuse and the aftermath I now know what my husband feels inside even though it is hard for him to talk about it still
Ashley324 More than 1 year ago
I first came across Erin's story in a cosmo girl magazine when I was 17 and living in a group home for girls..I went ang bought the book the next day..I read the book in one day...It was really good..I read it in a different situation then others because I was trying at the time to overcome the sexual abuse of my own brother...Erin's book helped me in a lot of ways..learning to forgive and that it is possible to go foward and be that happy girl again..I look up to Erin in so many ways for bein able to come foward of her story...
Suej7449 More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down. I lived in the neighborhood of Erin Merryn; the schools she wrote about were schools my daughter attended. I kept hoping that Erin would get to the point where she felt like her life was worth living; she is a remarkable young lady with quite a desire to help others. I have passed the book on to a friend who also couldn't put it down and she is going to suggest that her 17 year old daughter read it.
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stephdown More than 1 year ago
I came across this book by accident and it changed my life. Finally there was someone who knew what I was going through. I no longer felt alone in what I was going through and was able to deal more with what was happening in my life. This book was encouraging, inspirational, and ultimately what made me decide to come forward about being raped. A must read for survivors, parents and advocates alike! Thank you Erin for your strength and courage!
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Inspiring story! A must read for anyone not just survivors.
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malaynasmom More than 1 year ago
I just completed reading this book and it's amazing. Erin Merryn is an amazing woman. Anyone who was been sexually abused should read this book. It's hard to believe that she is only 24. She has overcome so much in her short life and continues to be an inspiration to all women. Her next book "Living For Today" will come out in Nov 2009 and I will definitely be purchasing it!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have not yet read this book,but i have heard her speak on the Montel Show and I can say that I cannot wait to go and buy this book. I am so glad that I watched the show . other wise I would not have even known about this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the perfect book for those who have suffered from childhood sexual abuse and for those who are interested in understanding the effects on their loved ones. An easy to follow journey through one girl's nightmare to her final joyful destination. Erin is a strong, courageous, extraordinary young woman. Her story is definitely worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading Erin Merryn's Stolen Innocence was an intriguing experience. Her courage in sharing her diary, her most intimate thoughts and feelings is to be commended. The reader will walk with Erin each step of her harrowing experience of being sexually abused by an older cousin. You will feel her pain and want to wipe away each of her tears. You will want to hold and comfort her. You will feel her pain, sadness and fear. You will experience first hand the trauma and devastation of what it is to have a trusted relative destroy the innocence of youth and ability to trust. I, as a victim of sexual abuse can empathize with Erin. I rejoiced when she finally confronted her abuser and also rejoiced when he admitted his wrongdoing and offered an apology so she could finally forgive him. As an adult Erin has become strong through her experience, setting goals and doing volunteer work. She plans to have a career in social work and she has a strong faith. Erin was robbed of her childhood and can never retrieve those stolen innocent years, but with her determination she will be able to help others and perhaps prevent someone from living the same childhood she did. Anyone who has been molested, assaulted or is in the field of helping victims will benefit from reading Stolen Innocence. Sometimes we sneak around to read someones private thoughts in a diary, Erin bears her soul and gives us permission to read it. You will surely be a different person after reading this one.