Frisky Q & A: Lauren Book-Lim, Executive Director Of Lauren’s Kids And Sexual Abuse Survivor

Lauren Book-Lim is a survivor.

From age 10 to 16, the young Florida girl was sexually abused by her family’s live-in nanny. After telling her parents about the abuse and putting the former nanny behind bars, in 2002 Book-Lim started Lauren’s Kids. The organization educates children and adults about sexual abuse and also runs a 24-hour hotline.

Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month I hoped to do an interview for The Frisky and learn more about this remarkably strong young woman. Lauren Book-Lim was gracious enough to answer my questions over email before embarking today on “Walk In My Shoes,” a 500-mile walk across Florida to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

Our interview, after the jump: The Frisky: What was your own experience with sexual abuse?

Lauren Book-Lim: I was sexually abused from the time I was 10 years old until I was 16. The abuse went on 365 days a year; there was no time off, no days off. I was abused by my live-in nanny. She traveled with us, checked in on me at school and was around or monitoring me at all other moments. Not only was I sexually abused, I was also tortured physically and verbally abused.

The Frisky: What brought you to eventually talk about the abuse?

Lauren Book-Lim: I decided to come forward about my abuse so others could see that it can happen to anyone. There is no profile. It can happen in any setting. I also wanted children to see they didn’t have to suffer in silence that it is always OK to tell. That has been my mission ever since.

The Frisky: What are you hoping to accomplish with your 500-mile walk, called Walk In My Shoes, where you will stop at sexual assault treatment centers and rape crisis centers?

Lauren Book-Lim: The main objective for the walk is to raise awareness and funds for Lauren’s Kids. When we get to the different sexual assault treatment centers we will be speaking about sexual abuse awareness, about the particular center, how people can get services and make communities aware of sexual abuse. We want to shed the shame and shine light into the dark places where sexual abuse exists.

The Frisky: When did you start up Lauren’s Kids and what’s your goal for the group to do?

Lauren Book-Lim: I began Lauren’s Kids and the advocacy for sexual abuse in 2002 when I came out about my own abuse and spoke to advocate for laws to protect the children of Florida. We became a 501(c) (3) in 2007. My goal for Lauren’s Kids would be to span across the nation so all children know they can talk about sexual abuse. I want Lauren’s Kids to represent strength and have different centers throughout the country for children and families to use to receive counseling, crisis counseling and a safe place to go if they need. I have many goals for Lauren’s Kids, but mostly I hope it makes a difference in the lives of all who need [it].

The Frisky: Why is your message to sexual abuse survivors “It’s OK to tell”? What is going through the head of an abuse victim?

Lauren Book-Lim: For so long, sexual abuse is something people have always said they need to keep private and we should not talk about. This does not serve survivors. We need to be heard and get help so we can become thrivers, not just survivors. Predators and offenders can only abuse when their victims are silent. They use that to keep the abuse going. We want all people who may be in trouble now to get out. They don’t need to suffer because there are places for them to get help.

The Frisky: Lauren’s Kids has developed something called the “It’s OK To Tell” curriculum for schools— can you explain to me what it is?

Lauren Book-Lim: The curriculum is presented in three parts. First we educate the school faculty, teachers, etc. Then we talk to parents and then the students. The curriculum is five weeks. I developed the curriculum with a clinical psychologist and friend, Tara Zuckerman:

  • Lesson 1: Guiding voice, Safety Stop Sign, and Assertive voice
  • Lesson 2: Trusted Triangle (3 or more people you know, love and trust who you can talk to about anything) and Strangers
  • Lesson 3: Safe and Unsafe Touch along with Private Parts (not naming — we ask the parents to do that; in the weekly newsletters we point them out)
  • Lesson 4: Safe and Unsafe Secrets
  • Lesson 5: Graduation and Review!

We have been given a pilot program in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and we also have taught it at different homeless assistance centers in Florida.

The Frisky: This is kind of a more general spiritual question, but where do you find the strength and serenity to push forward with your work with Lauren’s Kids and Walk In My Shoes? What is it that inspires you?

Lauren Book-Lim: Great question. I am always searching for strength and serenity, but I have found it in different places. One is living in balance with work, my personal life, etc. I read a lot, write a lot, play with my dogs, and have a wonderful husband who is always encouraging me to constantly search for balance. As for strength, I was always taught as a child to pick yourself up and keep going. There is no other alternative.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. I always allow myself to feel whatever feelings I am having without judgment. For example, if I am sad, I can be sad, feel the feeling, have the tears, and then say to myself, ‘OK, that felt good. What did I learn?’ and continue on. Skills I will be working on for my life! My favorite is when I am mad! I purchased cheap glass plates and when I am mad and so angry I can’t stand it, I go outside and take a plate a throw it against a wall behind my house! The anger melts away. It feels great to have a release.

The Frisky: What are your next plans for educating and advocating for sexual abuse survivors? Writing a book, maybe?

Lauren Book-Lim: I am actually in the process of beginning my memoir! I will continue to advocate and educate and speak as long as people will listen!

The 24-hour hotline for Lauren’s Kids is 1-877-LKIDS-01. If you need help, you can find more information on the Lauren’s Kids site here.