Regina woman using painful past to lobby for better future
A Regina woman is using her own painful experiences to push for change — and a better future for other children in Saskatchewan.
It took Pamela Guest years to open up about being sexually abused as a child by someone she thought she could trust, and she believes change starts with better education for kids.
Guest stayed silent about the abuse for more than 24 years. Once she broke her silence, the full impact of the trauma set in. She has been diagnosed with conversion disorder, which means she experiences stroke-like symptoms.
“Staying silent can actually have these effects,” Guest told CTV News. “But, when you’re being sexually abused it’s all neurological stuff that ever lasts in your brain. It’s the PTSD, it’s like a movie being played back.”
Guest believes her mental health could have improved if she had told someone about the abuse when she was a child, but she says she didn’t know she could speak up about her experience.
Now, she wants to ensure children in the province know that if they are abused, they should tell someone. She’s calling on the Saskatchewan government to implement Erin’s Law — an American law that makes sure all children are properly educated about sexual abuse.
“By teaching those kids at a young age, we can try and make sure that this doesn’t happen,” she said.
In May, the Ministry of Education released a child abuse policy for all Saskatchewan schools. The policy encourages teachers to talk about sexual abuse with students, but Guest believes it should be mandatory.
“The policy statement talks about encouraging to develop an administrative procedure which will mandate the teaching of child abuse prevention education for all children Pre-K to Grade 12 to support and extend what’s already expected in Grades 1 to 9 health education,” said Susan Nedelcov-Anderson, assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Education.
Meanwhile, Guest hopes sharing her story will bring awareness to child sexual abuse and help future children to speak up, rather than staying silent.
Anyone interested in reaching out to Guest can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on a report by CTV Regina's Cally Stephanow