Voices of Change 2018 (VOC18) was founded by Nicole Moehring and her daughter Maci Lynch. The passion and drive behind starting this organization came after Maci and her brother Evan, who was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome and Autism, were both unfortunate victims of sexual abuse and assault.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Violence against adults and children with disabilities statistics, children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled peers. They are 3.7 times more likely than non-disabled peers to be victims of some form of violence, 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence and 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence.
Often, children with disabilities do not realize they are being abused. Many times, the perpetrator is the child’s primary caregiver, a family member or someone the family or child knows. Perpetrators often threaten children so they are afraid to tell anyone. Allowing the abuse to continue and as a result, the child more than likely will suffer from extensive trauma.
Lack of preventative education, resources, supports for providers, along with the stigma of not talking about body safety, abuse, body autonomy, etc., put children with disabilities at an increased risk of being abused.
Our organization is unique because it is not disability specific such as Autism Speaks, The Upside of Downs or United Cerebral Palsy. We serve individuals with disabilities under the age of 21 with cognitive, intellectual and physical disabilities, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or gender identity. Our services also extend to their families and guardians.Our founder, Nicole Moehring, never realized how vulnerable her son was to abuse because no one talks about the statistics and there is very little preventive education. Nicole believes with proper education; she and her family would have been better prepared and able to help her son.
Nicole felt that, because Evan has a disability, his rights were taken away, he was discriminated against, and his voice wasn’t heard. She felt very alone in her quest for justice and finding support and resources for his road to recovery.
Education and advocacy are imperative for children with disabilities, to reduce the risk and impact of abuse.
Voices of Change 2018 is committed to reducing the risk of abuse by:
Educating children with disabilities and their families about:
Children with disabilities, who have been victims of abuse/assault, need a voice, advocates, preventive education, access to support systems and recovery.
- Body Parts / Private Parts – Teaching Children Proper Names
- Body Autonomy
- Family Safety Plans
- Good Touching / Bad Touching
- How to Be Their Own Advocate
- How to Disclose Abuse
- How to Talk to Your Child about tough topics
- Internet Safety
- It's OK to say NO!
- It's OK to Tell Someone
- Secrets vs Surprises