Erin Merryn was inspired by Truddi Chase's story.
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Throughout the years, viewers of all ages have told us Truddi inspired them to break the silence about their own abuse.

As a child, Erin Merryn was abused by two people she knew. She says the guilt and shame of these experiences robbed her of innocence. "It changed me from a strong, resilient, confident child to a very angry, hate-filled, self-destructive child, teenager and young adult," she says. "The abuse took different parts of my own soul because two people that I knew had abused me. I feared the world I lived in."

Contemplating suicide, Erin says her life was changed by seeing Truddi tell her story of abuse. "It allowed me that day to finally come out of the shadows of my own darkness, to let go a lot of that anger and hatred and realize that I was not alone."

Erin says Truddi gave her the confidence to confront one of her abusers and eventually get him to acknowledge what he'd done and apologize. This experience lead Erin to push the Illinois legislature to enact Erin's Law, a new law that demands sexual abuse education for children. "We teach kids tornado drills, fire drills, bus drills," she says. "We put all this information to their heads, but we teach them nothing on sexual abuse."

Next, Erin plans to take this campaign to a national level. "Kids need to be educated on sexual abuse," she says. "They need the tools to speak up and speak out."

Watch another viewer named Laura share how Truddi's story changed her life.

Truddi would have been happy to hear how her story helped change Erin and Laura's lives, Kari says. "For people who are being abused: Talk, find whoever you can, and have a voice," she says. "I think she wanted to be that voice for people, to know that it was okay to talk and to step up and not hide."

FROM: An Oprah Show Exclusive: One Mom, 20 Personalities
Published on October 06, 2010

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