Marie Pflugrad, a retired Adventist teacher and certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist. She has a passion for keeping children safe. [Photo: Mid-America Union Conference Outlook]

Marie Pflugrad has experienced trauma, heartache, and addiction. After bouts with anxiety and depression, she sought out a certified Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist. EMDR therapy helps treat individuals for post-traumatic stress disorder. Through EMDR therapy, Pflugrad’s repressed memories came to light, which allowed her to work through them and find hope.

It allowed her to heal, forgive, and move on. And she felt called to turn that pain into a ministry.

A pastor’s wife and retired schoolteacher raised in the mountains of Colorado, United States, Marie has been on a healing and recovery journey, which inspired her to write a biography. When finished, she felt called to write a book for children to help them recognize they have the means to protect themselves, that they have a voice. The book adds awareness of the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse and is meant to be used as a preventative tool.

Pflugrad says, “The shame that is connected to a child who trusts someone and is lured into doing or allowing someone to do something to them comes back on the child. They tend to feel guilt for it. They feel as if it was their fault, that they caused this bad thing to happen. This is why they do not speak up. Children need to know that it is OK to listen to the warning signs going off in their minds; to trust that not all things that spark their curiosity are good for them, but in fact can be very harmful.”

While “stranger danger” has been taught, and most children are aware of what to do in the event of an attempted abduction by strangers, there is not a lot of awareness about the abuses that take place by those they know. Pflugrad’s goal is to make this book available to all people and organizations who spend time with children in any capacity. She wants children to learn “luring” signs and to listen to their inner voice.

COVID-19 and Child Abuse

COVID-19 has shut down many corners of the world. Because of need, desperation, and inability to go to schools or trusted daycare facilities, children are being left in environments parents normally would not use. There are concerns over the reported abuse cases on the rise during the virus, which makes the publishing of this book timely.

“While child molestation is nothing new, it is reaching the point that awareness and action need to meet. Cautious steps must be taken to protect our children, so they don’t have to go down a path that I did,” Pflugrad says.

Her goal is not to make children distrustful or cause unmerited suspicion; however, parents need to ask more specific questions when leaving their children in another’s care.

“The devil has a way of trying to destroy the lives of children, and this was a catalyst for writing these two books,” Pflugrad says. “First, I needed to get to the root of my own issues and find healing from the repressed trauma I dealt with from my childhood sexual abuse. Then, as an educator, my desire to bring this epidemic to the surface sparked the children’s book, You Have a Voice, which can be seen as a companion book to the first.”

Pflugrad was asked to be a part of the 2020 Ministry Expo at the North American Division CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention and display her book in Lexington earlier this year. Due to COVID-19, the CALLED Convention was postponed, as well as other educator conventions in which she had hoped to participate. Her book will be available in Adventist Book Centers and AdventSource in the near future.

Pflugrad is passionate about sharing her message of hope. “My God ‘hole’ has been filled. I am now God ‘whole’,” she says.

The original version of this story was posted by the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.

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