KNOXVILLE (WATE) – During the Gatlinburg wildfires. One story that resonated with people across the country was the family of Michael Reed.
Michael Reed spoke with WATE 6 On Your Side Reporter Whitney Good as he looked for his wife, Constance Reed, and their two daughters Lily and Chloe. Constance Reed and her daughters died in the fire, but Michael Reed hopes his wife’s story can help others. Before she died, Constance Reed shared details about her history of physical and verbal abuse.
The Gatlinburg father said the video was extremely personal for his wife. He gave WATE 6 On Your Side permission to post the video and said he felt like it was a good opportunity for her to tell her story. After Constance Reed died, the video received hundreds of views from people all over the country, with many saying it gave them the courage to share their own story of being abused as a child.
Michael Reed set up a website called Constance’s Story to help share her story and encourage others to make sure fewer children have to go through similar situations. The website also includes a petition for “Constance’s Bill,” which would create a nationwide text alert number for children. If a child is in danger, he or she can text the word “help” to authorities.
He is also planning on speaking at Knox County Health Department’s program for National Child Abuse Prevention Month, which is in April. The Community Coalition to Protect Children will host “Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children” training on April 11. The training will provide tools on how to stop child sexual abuse. There will be youth-serving agencies at the free event to answer questions.
“So many children brave horrible abuses alone. Statistics show that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by the age of 18, and some studies’ rates are even higher,” said Amy Rowling, violence prevention educator for the Knox County Health Department and co-facilitator of the Community Coalition to Protect Children. “What’s also heartbreaking is that 90 percent of victims are abused by someone they know and trust. These statistics are staggering and speak to the need for more training for adults to help protect our children.”
More than 10,300 children were victims of abuse or neglect in Tennessee in 2013, according to the Child Welfare League of America.
“Victims of abuse can be affected for a lifetime, and can suffer emotional and health issues including depression, anxiety, self-harm, challenges with relationships, alcohol or drug abuse, and eating disorders,” added Rowling.
Ambler Brown, a Stewards of Children facilitator, will lead the training. Attendees will receive advice and guidance and hear survivor stories.
The event is open to the public. It will be from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at South College Auditorium. To attend, register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.