Candace Armenti

Founder & President

of

Stranger Danger Awareness


 Candace's WOW Story:

I was born into a very loving family. My mother was always about love and being there.  I never wanted for kisses and they were plentiful, as was the attention.  If it were not for this consistent love and affection  I don't know what may have become of me.  Because of the tight bond we had I was able to come to my mom for anything, but still kept a secret from her (or so I thought), and it was because of that love that  I eventually was able to tell the terrible truth.

 When I was 3 (or so I am told) is when it first happened.  With my mother and grandmother downstairs I was upstairs loosing my innocence at the hands of a person who, in one action, became a stranger to me.  When I returned downstairs to my mother and grandmother I was asked what I was doing and I was quite candid  about it.  This first time it was hushed as per my grandmothers  request (as family dirty laundry was not aired).  It was (as I am being told) taken care of "in house" and this person was told to never touch me again.  My family was to believe that was the end of it.

Two years later (at 5) is my first real memory of anything.  I had buried the memory of the first time deep enough to feel like a bad dream. Yet this time I knew it wasn't right so I went right downstairs to my mom’s side and just remembered feeling empty and alone, yet was comforted by being close to my mom.

The third time (around 9 years old) was yet again at my grandparent place, but this time in the room next to where my grandmother was and my mom was not there.  This time it wasn't as severe, yet still mentally altering. 

It wasn't until then that I got the courage to tell my mother.  Unfortunately for years we both thought the 3 and 5 year old incident was one in the same (this was just cleared up a few months back).  Again, nothing was done other than this person being kept an eye on.  In the 80's it was not as known the ramifications yet, but I would learn through years of counseling, medication and feelings of worthlessness what effect it really has on a person. 

There were ad still are times in my life that I was surrounded by people, yet felt completely alone.  Through my marriage, I felt ashamed sexually with my own husband.  Sexual acts became shameful to me.  Anxiety is a huge part of my life, yet I have learned tricks to dealing without using medication.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression, these are all things I have dealt with at one point or another. 

Not a day goes by that I don't think of what happened, and there are still stories I am not able to share about the flashbacks that have haunted me in my life. I know that what happened is not what defines me. It is what I do in life, and how I handle daily situations that do!  
 
It was actually a little girl who did not even know me coming up to my van at a school that motivated me to spearhead the Stranger Danger Awareness organization. Her nativity could have put her in a very dangerous situation changing her life forever.

When I started looking into registering Stranger Danger Awareness I realized it was to be so much bigger!  Continued at Right...

 

It dawned on me that a stranger isn't just someone that a child doesn't know…it is those who would hurt a child in any way because they instantly become a stranger to that child.They are no longer who that child thought they were. From that point on they become a stranger!  
 
It has been very emotional reading stories and learning of children's suffering. It makes me angry which motivates me to fight even harder for them!  No child deserves to suffer. They never even asked to be born! It is past victims and adults who care for the well being of a child enough to stand strong and tall and become the soldiers for these innocent children who have had a war ragged against them. A war they never asked to be in!  We will fight to help "Break the Barrier of Silence" and make a safer future for our children!

I started Stranger Danger Awareness originally out of fear of children being abducted and it transformed into Raising Awareness and Breaking the Barrier of Silence of Sexual Abuse.
Now we hope to help not only victimized children, but all children, families, and adults still suffering in silence.

With running this organization I have really come face to face with many of my own past demons of sexual abuse, and although I am a survivor it still affects me in many ways. It is how I deal with the effects that will make me stronger in the end.

The memories no longer haunt me, yet strengthen me to fight harder to protect the innocence of children!

I am blessed to have a wonderful mother who gave me so much love growing up that I did not fall victim to any type of substance abuse which so many victims are prone to out
of pain, confusion, fear etc. She remains right by my side in my endeavors and supports me fully and completely.

At the moment Stranger Danger Awareness is made up of a board of 4 other women who
are wonderful in their own ways. Mothers, mostly, wanting a safer future for not only their own children, but for all children!

If you would like to be a part of or contribute SDA in any way please contact Candace 289-407-4484, join SDA’s Facebook Page  or Follow SDA on Twitter.

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