March 17, 2022
Encouraging children to speak up about sexual abuse is the core theme of ‘Hayly Stems The Tide’, the debut book by attorney and advocate Elizabeth Thompson.
While beautifully illustrated and set in a small seaside town very much like the author's native Bahamas, the book tackles a very difficult topic. As Thompson was writing the book in early 2022, an international body determined per capita that The Bahamas had the highest number of sexual crimes against women and children. Thompson stated that she struggled to find the right words for the book as she found herself reflecting on her childhood experiences with inappropriate comments by adults and her encounters as a prosecutor with traumatized child victims of sexual abuse.
"We all know someone who was abused as a child and sadly, while the community may speak out about the child, too many members of the community also tend to shield the abuser especially if he or she is deemed to be an upstanding and respected member of society or even a relative of the child," said Thompson. "I have witnessed first hand what can happen when children are forced to remain silent and it often ends in tragedy. I have also witnessed children place their trust in the wrong adult only to be discouraged from finding help. And then again, we have other people who thankfully do the right thing."
In the book, a little girl named Cree is afraid to tell what her friend’s uncle has done to her. However, it takes Hayly, her best friend to help Cree build the courage to share the dark secret.
"The thing is so many people train children to look out for the monster outside of the home who they are told may kidnap them and harm them," added Thompson. "The reality is some children are already in the home with their monster, or in close proximity to them, and may have been told not to speak. That's why it is so important for other children to stand with their friends and speak to the right adult. Further, social services, child services, law enforcement, the community and even the court system must support these brave young people who speak out."
Thompson, who is also a crisis advocate for survivors of domestic violence said that she is sickened by the many stories that continue to come to light and wants the village to be a village to protect its smallest community members.
"It's bad enough for a child to endure physical trauma, but the added emotional trauma often lasts a lifetime and if an intervention, justice or healing does not take place, the cycles can and have continued leaving our children irreparably damaged."
The book is currently available at online retailers in both Kindle and paperback and Thompson is planning signings and speaking engagements on the topic in the USA and The Bahamas in the near future. Her goal is to get the book in schools to give children the opportunity to understand what should be done if they are in a similar situation.
For more information and purchase, please visit www.amazon.com, www.payhip.com/haylystemsthetide or www.akosuamaatcreative.com