As a triumphant survivor of sexual abuse, Jenna Quinn Alexander knows a thing or two about overcoming obstacles. From the ages of 13–17 Jenna was molested by a close family friend—someone she called her "second dad." In 2004, just days after her molester was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Jenna was approached by the Dallas Morning News with the opportunity to share her story. Since that time, she has become an activist and a "voice for the voiceless." Jenna took some time to tell us more about her ongoing fight against sexual abuse.
How did you find the courage to speak up and tell your story?
The Dallas Morning News heard about my story, and they approached me for an interview. For the first time, I realized that I didn't have to stay silent about the injustice that I endured. After the interview was over, the reporter said, "Don't worry—we won't put your name in the article."
I was immediately upset after he made that statement. I had just finished telling him that I was encouraging other victims to seek help—but if I was too ashamed to say who I was, then I couldn't ask others to come forward in disclosing their own abuse.
What encouragement can you offer women who struggle with past sexual abuse?
God does not want you to be miserable. In fact, he died for you—for all of us—so that you can step into who you are in him. Your life is worth more than any possession that exists on Earth! Please share the burden of your abuse with a trusted friend. Share it with someone who will take action with you.
Know that even if you take three steps forward and one step back, it's still progress. Even today I cannot say that I have fully conquered my past of abuse. But I can face every day because God exists and makes our crooked paths straight. I want to encourage women to have hope—wherever they are with facing their past. God does not want us to keep our emotions or our troubles to ourselves. When I struggle with peace, I tell God exactly how I am feeling, and I trust him to help me work through it.
And now you've channeled your own experience of sexual abuse into fighting against it! Tell us about your work as an activist.
I am 26 now, and I've participated in a variety of activism work for the last eight years. When I said yes to what I felt God was calling me to do, I recorded a documentary entitled, "It's Not Just Jenna."
The documentary is used to train and educate others about the warning signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. There are two versions of the documentary: a secular version and a faith-based version. This allows the video to be shown in both public schools and churches.
I've also had the opportunity to travel the country making speeches to law enforcement and abuse-prevention groups. I really enjoy going into the schools and speaking to middle and high school students.
I've also moved into the political realm by reaching out to Texas legislature about the need for schools to adopt an age-appropriate curriculum on child sexual abuse. Republican Representative Tan Parker helped me champion this curriculum. In August 2009, "Jenna's Law" unanimously passed the state.
Besides gathering the courage to speak out about your story, what other obstacles have you had to overcome in your career as a political activist?
There are always obstacles to overcome, and having a state law named after me is a doubled-edged sword. Being labeled a victim is not something that I think anyone would ever want. Still, some people can be very critical and judgmental about my motives.
The law makes me absolutely transparent to the public. If someone wants to know about my story, all they have to do is search it on the Internet, so I don't have the privacy or the power to choose to whom I disclose my past of sexual abuse. What people don't realize is that it feels like my journal is out there for the entire world to read. I am so blessed that every day I can remind myself of who I am in Christ and that my wonderful husband is always there to support me.
To hear more from Jenna about sexual abuse and healing, or to learn about Jenna's Law, you can visit her website: JennaQuinn.org
Overcoming Sexual Abuse
This slideshow is only available for subscribers.
Please log in or subscribe to view the slideshow.