ROCKFORD (WIFR) – A new Illinois law, called "Erin's Law" is trying to give children who are victims of sexual abuse, a voice to get help.
Peggy Knoepfle looks at a photo of herself when she was just three years old, but she says those childhood memories are painful. That’s when she was sexually abused by her father and uncle.
“You just feel worthless, you feel like you’re nothing and especially if the abuser is telling you you’re worthless and don’t tell anyone, nobody is going to believe you anyway.”
The goal of a new Illinois law is to give kids an outlet to get help if they’re being sexually abused. Governor Pat Quinn signed Erin’s Law this week, which will require all public schools to educate elementary aged students about sexual assault and sexual abuse.
“There might be some little child out there that’s getting abused and doesn’t know that that’s not normal and it’s not right,” said Knoepfle.
Knoepfle says she was too scared to tell anyone during the 15 years she was abused.
“You didn’t talk about that. I was terrified of my family, there was beatings in the family, there was nobody to go to,” said Knoepfle says she hopes the new program will catch the assault at an early age, so kids don’t suffer like she did.
Erin’s Law is named after a Schaumburg woman named Erin who was sexually abused when she was a kid and spoke up about it when she was 13 years-old. After years of campaigning as an adult, she got similar laws passed in four other states. The law takes effect next school year.
Because the law was just signed yesterday, local school districts say they haven’t gotten a chance to work out the details. However, sexual abuse programs are required in the high schools and we’re told that material is covered during health class.