From Molestation Victim to Advocate: Silent No More

Too often stories of childhood sexual abuse remain untold – for years. 

Ashley and me

Early in my adoption journey, I realized the importance of telling my family’s story.

That way I could control the narrative about my daughter Ashley’s molestation in foster care. I could also separate facts from opinions. And in the process I could build further understanding among teachers, professionals and family members. 

But the choice to divulge private information took much soul-searching.

Click here to read blog “My Child Struggles: How Much to Share?” 

In 2000, I set boundaries with AP writer Rex Huppke and then worked with him to tell the story of my daughter Ashley’s molestation. At the age of 10, she was clearly seen as a victim with little to no voice.

To read the initial article about “Ashley the victim,” click here.

Fast forward to 2014. Ashley (now 23) and I teamed with Scott Miley of the Herald-Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana to share her journey from victim to survivor. Anderson is the city where her three plus years of molestation took place in foster care.

Our goal was simple – breaking the “code of silence” in the community 45 minutes northeast of Indianapolis. After visiting numerous locations in Anderson with Ashley, she remembered far more details than I ever imagined possible. Clearly, a number of people knew bits and pieces of the molestation months before her foster father was arrested. 

Yet they remained silent.

To read the follow-up story of “Ashley the survivor,” click here.

A,A, M

Today in 2019, The Indianapolis Star will soon release a five-part story of Ashley’s extensive trauma, its lasting effects, her treatment and eventual transition to trauma advocate. The courageous decision to share intimate details (the good and not-so-good) of the past 20 years is her own. I offered guidance and testimony when asked.

It’s important to tell my story to spread awareness of childhood sexual abuse, trauma and PTSD. I want people to see real-life struggles that come from Borderline Personality Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and PTSD – from childhood to adulthood. I hope that sharing my challenges and successes will encourage others to speak out and seek appropriate therapy earlier in the lives.

We are confident that award-winning child welfare reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski will honor Ashley’s integrity, as she did with her multiple articles on the sex abuse scandal within USA Gymnastics.

We look forward to sharing Marisa’s article when released. DCP

Click here to read blog about Ashley’s molestation.

Click here to read blog about Ashley’s diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and treatment using DBT-Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

Click to read blog about Ashley’s guardship – now no longer needed.


Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page NoLimitsAndrew – Andrew Peterson

To watch Andrew’s amazing ESPN 14-minute documentary, click here. Andrew Peterson ESPN Documentary

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