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Carole Meekins: Positively Milwaukee

3/16/07 "Stolen Childhood"

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It may take a village to raise a child, but it only takes one person to harm a child. And often that pain can last a lifetime. I was reminded of that when a lovely lady from Wauwatosa called me recently. Emily Liban had been abused as a child. And a recent news story triggered some of the bad memories. As a child, Emily had been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused...even locked in a basement. She was threatened, and feared for her life. She was too scared to tell others. But an astute teacher helped her get away. Eventually Emily found a loving foster home. But Emily's story is a reminder to all of us. Pay attention to children. Often they are introverted and withdrawn for a reason. Emily lived in several foster homes and endured unspeakable trauma until one sensitive adult saw a child in crisis. Today Emily has turned her pain into beauty. You would be amazed at her artwork made from counted cross-stitching. There are flowers, scenes of nature, and stunning replicas of Milwaukee landmarks. Psychological intervention helped Emily cope with her painful past. Today Emily loves doting on her grandchildren. She was determined to rise above the assaults. Today, this woman whose childhood was robbed by adult monsters is no longer a prisoner of her past. Emily is an example of quiet beauty, strength and courage. But even at the age of 59, when talking about her life as a young child, the tears come easily. A sad reminder that the pain of childhood abuse is not like childhood...it never leaves.

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