Lilly Lyons has defied the odds to become a teenage crusader against sexual violence. She is encouraging others to share their stories of sexual assault.
When Lilly first saw a counselor about her abuse, she was asked to play in sand, shares SBS.
For many young people keen to speak about their trauma, a bad counselling experience may have compounded their anxieties. But for Lilly, it planted the seed for a golden idea: a radio show about living with the trauma of sexual assault.
A few years later, Lilly’s mum, Kim, suggested Lilly get involved with a local council initiative to raise the profile of young people in her local community. And this is where Lilly’s radio career took off.
Today, Lilly’s voice can be heard loud and clear as the host of weekly radio show Living Life with Lilly on 89.3 2GLF, a local radio station in Sydney’s west.
“The power of speaking up is that those people that are relying on young people not to speak up are absolutely annihilated. If you speak up, their power is gone.,” Lilly tells SBS, The Feed.
“Most of the time it’s an older person who hurts a younger person, so it’s easier for a younger person to connect with another younger person,” says Lilly.
In 2016, Lilly Lyons was awarded a Pride of Australia Medal for her advocacy raising the voices of child sexual abuse survivors.
“The more young people that can stand up about this and give their voice, the more young people can have that power – because that’s exactly what we need.
“For me to know that I’m sharing my story and they can share their story and that we’re both feeling safe and connected with each other is what I love to do.
Speaking out was a major turning point for Lilly. But not everyone around her thought she was doing the right thing.
“Some [adults] told me that it wasn’t okay to talk about this because they think it’s very confronting.”
But the results speak for themselves. Lilly has empowered countless survivors ask for help if they need it, including a Year 12 boy who Lilly supported throughout his court appearances and a 50-year old woman who had been carrying her trauma for over 30 years.
Lilly says, “All they needed was someone to listen. Someone to tell them ‘It’s okay, you’re not alone.’”
The statistics for child sexual abuse will shock you
Every two hours in Australia, a child is sexually harmed, according to child protection advocacy group Bravehearts.
1 in 5 children in Australia will be sexually harmed in some way by their 18th birthday. That’s 59,000 Australian children each year.
Tips for Parents
Based on Bravehearts’ Ditto Keep safe Adventure program, the 5 basic principles we need to teach our children (remember: it’s never too early to sow the seeds of personal safety) are:
1) To trust their feelings and to distinguish between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ feelings
2) To say ‘no’ to adults if they feel unsafe and unsure
3) That they own their own bodies
4) That nothing is so yucky that they can’t tell someone about it
5) That if they feel unsafe or unsure to run and tell someone they trust.
If you need support please know you can always contact someone.
Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
Parent Line – 1300 30 1300
Lifeline – 13 11 14
1800 Respect (Family Violence and Sexual Assault Line) – 1800 737 732
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