Tallahassee, FL – Lawmakers in both chambers will soon be looking to pass legislation for the benefit of sexual abuse victims on their respective floors, including the Walk in her Shoes Act, which has several provisions that would help law enforcement protect these victims. As Sascha Cordner reports, it's all thanks to a young woman, who just finished her one-thousand mile walk for the cause.
More than a hundred people cheered Lauren Book, a rape survivor as she came to meet everyone to start the last leg of the thousand mile walk at Governor's Square Mall. The 39-day walk that began in Key West was a way to bring awareness to sexual assault and how sexual abuse is preventable if parents talk to their children. Well-known Tallahassee Lobbyist Ron Book is the father of 26-year-old Lauren Book.
"The people that walked in the mall with us and the people that met us at the park this morning early, and so many of the faces were faces that we saw in Key West and we picked up more people that are standing here today, many of whom are survivors, many of whom are survivors of generational assault."
Ron Book also gave some statistics about rape victims in not just the state, but the nation as well.
"But every two in half minutes, someone in our country is raped and you're going to hear a bell every two in half minutes because it means somebody, somebody in our country, somebody in your community is being raped at that exact moment."
His daughter survived six years of rape from her female nanny. Lauren Book then showed a picture of a little girl and talked about why she is an advocate for all these victims.
"I do it for her. 6 years after this picture after this picture was taken, this little girl was raped. This little girl was raped, this little girl was sodomized, this little girl was defecated on, this little girl was urinated on and thrown down flights of stairs, ladies and gentlemen this little girl was me holding a butterfly in a pickle jar."
This is the second year Lauren Book walked for the cause. She teared up as she talked about the strength she received from the victims she met along the way of her journey.
"And, today all these years later, I stand before not holding a butterfly, holding my butterflies, all of you whose names are in my jar have transformed into beautiful butterflies for all the work that you have done, all my future survivors, all my centers "
Many lawmakers were also in attendance and some even joined in the walk, including State Representative Martin Kiar of Parkland and Democratic Senator Oscar Braynon of Miami gardens. Both Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, whose wives walked with Lauren to the Capitol, also made remarks at the rally on the steps of the old Capitol. Haridopolos talked about the unity of both chambers to protect victims.
"It's about growing up in a safe place and this walk is just is an inspiration and Ron, we're just so impressed with what you and your daughter have done making sure this never happens again, and that all of our children are protected, that's what Dean and I are dedicated towards and that puts everything into perspective, whatever happens in the next two weeks, what matters is that our kids are blessed with the opportunities that we've been blessed with, And we protect them at every possible stand."
First Lady Ann Scott also had a few words to say to Lauren, calling her a hero.
"But, I just want to say that you're my hero, (oh gosh). I want to congratulate you and everyone else who made this long courageous walk with you, across the state from Key West to Tallahassee. I am so impressed with your vigilance in raising awareness for this cause, not just for yourself, but for so many others."
Republican Representative Chris Dorworth of Heathrow spoke about a bill he sponsored The Walk in Their Shoes Act, inspired by Lauren Book.
"The bill passed that we're going to past this year, I probably going to be up early next week, is known as the Walk in her Shoes Act and it is compilation of about 14 different issues that are going to make it easier in law enforcement in this state to crack down on the awful predators, the horrible people that do these things and we're looking at "and a clear message to the people of the United States that if you're the sick disturbed human being that considers this acceptable human behavior, then stay the hell out of our state."
Ron Book, father of Lauren Book, also talked about Lauren's story can be an inspiration:
"I still cry almost every single day, I'm not afraid to cry, I'm not afraid to wipe the tears away. Today, there are tears of sadness, but there are tears of joy. There are tears which I'm proud that my daughter has not simply freed herself from her abuser, but she's freed herself to go out there and help others free themselves."
Lauren ended the Walk in My Shoes rally with a few words about the smallest advocate to allow all lawmakers to put sexual abuse in perspective.
"This is where I twist the lawmakers arm and ask you to please do the things that we need you to do, but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to show you our youngest advocate okay, this right here is our youngest advocate, she comes from a family of generational abuse, which means her mom was abused, both of her grandmothers were abused, and her aunts were abused, she's not been abused, please let's not let her be abused, please let's protect her."
Every lawmaker who spoke at the rally, and even the First Lady Ann Scott herself say the measures relating to sexual abuse victims are certain to pass.