Sexual assault victim hopes book breaks the cycle of abuse

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, April 26, 2013

— For decades, fear kept Karen Rynes silent about her abuse.

Now, years later, she's found the strength to share her story.

Last year, the 51-year-old woman self-published her book, "Sins of My Father and Mother: Will There be Justice for Me?"

"It's about my life of surviving sexual, physical and emotional abuse from age 9 to 18," Rynes said.

The Readstown woman left Janesville in January after living here almost 20 years. She started writing her book in fall of 2011, finishing it in February 2012.

So far she's sold 100 copies.

Rynes' father was her sexual abuser, she said. Her mother also abused her both physically and emotionally, she said.

"For so many years I suffered from fears of coming forward because of the threats my father made, and telling my mother," Rynes said.

Today, Rynes' 85-year-old father lives in a nursing home. Her mother died in 2009.

Rynes said writing the book helped her find her voice and gave her hope that it might help others find the courage not to be afraid and to come forward to get help.

The process also helped Rynes heal.

"I feel the best I have in my whole life," she said. "I think I've become a better mom, wife and grandma because I don't have that stress anymore."

And even though April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Rynes works to advocate sexual assault awareness year around. She and her sister, Chris Young of Bear Valley, co-founded the nonprofit group, World Against Molesters and Rapists.

As with Rynes, their father also molested Young.

According to Rynes, WAMAR's goals are to help educate the world about sexual assault reality and its effects, recognize possible abuse, assist those who have been assaulted in finding help, help victims become survivors, prevent possible sexual assaults and try to stop the cycles of abuse.

"We go around helping educate about the statistics and help people find resources they need," Rynes said.

Rynes has taken part in four book signings, participated in Take Back the Night events, spoken to college students and technical school staff and joined the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network's speakers' bureau.

She also testified in 2011 in front of the Assembly in Madison in an effort to get Senate Bill 345 passed.

The children's victim's act would open a three-year window for victims of the past to go after their predators through a civil—not criminal—process, she said.

The bill did not pass, she said.

Rynes said all of her advocate efforts are worth it if she can make a difference in just one person's life.

"This is what it's all about—breaking the cycle of sexual abuse," she said.


-- World Against Molesters and Rapists. Call Karen Rynes at 608-751-9522

-- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. National toll-free hotline is 1-800-656-4673, or visit rainn.org.

-- Sexual Assault Recovery Program, Beloit. Twenty-four hour hotline is 866-666-4576 or visit sarpwi.com.

-- YWCA Rock County, Janesville. Text its 24-hour HELPline at 608-371-9288 or call its emergency helpline at 608-752-2583.

Last updated: 10:32 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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