Child abuse program introduced in Southwest Georgia

Voice Today founder shares personal story, resources

Angela Williams, founder of Voice Today, was recently in Southwest Georgia to help promote the cause of child abuse awareness and prevention. (Submitted photo)

Angela Williams, founder of Voice Today, was recently in Southwest Georgia to help promote the cause of child abuse awareness and prevention. (Submitted photo)

ALBANY — The founder of a child abuse prevention and education organization based in the Atlanta area was recently in Southwest Georgia to help promote its work and to raise awareness of a problem that has impacted her life.

A child abuse survivor, Angela Williams of Voice Today was in the area for a book signing of her “From Sorrows to Sapphires” in Tifton about a week ago, as well as a couple of appearances in Ashburn.

“We are working on a grassroots movement in Georgia and across the nation,” said Williams. “… It is a stigmatized, taboo subject, (and our purpose) is to educate people to get them talking about it.”

The median age for a child to suffer abuse is 9, Williams said, adding the victim knows the abuser 93 percent of the time. There are roughly 42 million reported survivors in the United States, and it is estimated that only one in 10 victims ever tells anyone about a violation.

By gender, the breakdown is one in four girls and one in six boys under the age of 18.

To help alleviate the problem, Williams said, there is curriculum through Voice Today that covers such topics as “stranger danger,” how to set personal boundaries, and how to facilitate the healing process. On that vein, she and her son, Jacob Williams, have either written or co-authored several books on the subject.

As far as promoting the cause outside of the Atlanta area is concerned, she said there are three goals — building awareness, encouraging prevention programs and encouraging compassion and aftercare for identified victims of abuse.

“(It’s to help) to make resources available and make people aware,” she said, adding that people “need to realize it is here in this community, and know the signs and symptoms so they know when children are in trouble.

“We hope to empower adults with the prevention of child abuse … and the tools to have these conversations. Children depend on us to know what to do, and to intervene.”

The book “From Sorrows to Sapphires” tells of Williams’ own story of the child abuse that she suffered at the hands of her stepfather. Without someone to intervene on her behalf, she said, the result was feelings of isolation.

“I’m very open and honest about my journey,” she said. “Survivors carry a tremendous amount of shame and grow up into adults in a world that doesn’t want to give (help) to survivors. … So often it (impacts) adults at the same time. My stepfather groomed my mother to believe I was a liar, so by the time I disclosed it, she thought I was making it up.”

Following her trip to Southwest Georgia, Williams went to Los Angeles and is expected to go to Alabama next month. There is nothing else planned in this region yet, but she indicated that she would be willing to come back.

“If the invitation is there, I will be there,” she said.