Men in My Town

Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor Shares “5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on August 17, 2014

For more than 15 years, I served as a member of the board of directors of one of New Jersey’s most respected child advocacy agencies providing crisis intervention counseling services to child  victims of sexual abuse, 6 of those 15 years as President of the Board. As I write this article, I’m writing not as a board member, social worker, psychologist or academic. I write this article as an adult male survivor of childhood sexual violence.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

In 1974, at the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger, a  recidivist, pedophile predator hunting for boys in my childhood hometown of Lincoln, Rhode Island. Although my attacker was arrested and indicted, he never went to trial. He never went to trial because he was brutally beaten to death in the streets of Providence before his court date. Thirty-nine years after his murder, no one has ever been charged with the crime. Men in My Town is my story.

I’m writing not to tell my story, but to share my personal experience and what I’ve learned over the years, to help people understand the personal and societal effects of childhood sexual abuse and to share with you, 5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.

Children who are victims of sexual abuse often resort to inappropriate behaviors to cope as they suffer through physical, emotional, behavioral and social problems directly related to their abuse. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, drop out of school, run away from home, suffer from eating disorders, sleeping disorders, personality disorders, stress, anxiety, depression, disassociation, post-traumatic stress syndrome and life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

Some children have difficulty forming trusting relationships, resort to physical violence, sexual promiscuity and inappropriate and sometimes criminal sexually reactive behavior. Some resort to cutting, self-mutilation and in the most extreme cases they’ve murdered their abuser while others contemplate, attempt or commit suicide.

Directly attributable to their sexual abuse, victims often suffer these enduring problems throughout their adolescence and into adulthood, many suffering through decades of silence, never disclosing their abuse.

But why not? Why don’t they disclose?

Sexually abused children and adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse remain silent out of misplaced guilt, fear, shame, embarrassment and under threat of violence from their perpetrators, threats of violence directed at the child or their family.  In time, some victims of childhood sexual abuse get the strength to come forward, the strength to speak out, the strength to face the demons that haunt them and the perpetrator of their abuse, while many remain silent, living with the debilitating, destructive side effects forever, never disclosing their abuse to anyone.

It saddens me to say that I believe sex crimes committed against children will never stop. The life altering physical, emotional, behavioral and social side effects of sexual abuse, suffered by children into adulthood, last a lifetime. With the personal and societal cost of childhood sexual abuse so high, it’s necessary for parents, grandparents and anyone with responsibility for the health and safety of a child to be aware of 5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.

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Five Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe

Step 1.       Know the Facts

  • Approximately 30% of children who are sexually abused are abused by blood-relative family members; parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
  • An incremental 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone known to them, non-family members including neighbors, teachers, coaches, clergy, instructors, camp counselors, baby-sitters, step-parents, older kids in the neighborhood and friends of the family.
  • Fewer than 10% of children who are sexually abused are abused by strangers.
  • Less than 1% of children who are sexually abused are abducted and assaulted by strangers. Although very real, and it happened to me, the “Stranger Danger” risk of a child being abducted and sexually assaulted by a stranger is very low.
  • While “Stranger Danger” abductions and sexual assault are rare, the risk is very high. Odds are 50-50 if a child is abducted and sexually assaulted by a stranger, and the abduction lasts over 3 hours, the child will be murdered.
  • While we teach our kids to be aware of strangers, the facts show that over 90% of sexual assaults perpetrated against children are committed by someone known to the child.  Since that’s the case, the risk you face may not be from the stranger at the park, but from the very person you allow to take your child to the park.

Step 2.       Know the Signs

There are physical, emotional and behavioral signs that could indicate sexual abuse.

  • Physical signs include bruises, swelling, pain, rashes, cuts, bed wetting, self-mutilation, excessive weight gain or excessive weight loss.
  • Emotional signs manifest themselves when a normally happy, healthy, social child suddenly becomes withdrawn, sullen, sad or depressed. Or when a child experiences recurring nightmares, is unable or unwilling to sleep or experiences and discusses thoughts of suicide.
  • Behavioral signs can be seen when a child becomes excessively combative or exceptionally defiant. Some children no longer want to do things they liked to do or no longer want to be with people they liked to spend time with in the past. Behavioral signs can also appear in the form of age inappropriate sexual behavior, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide attempts.
  • Be aware that sometimes there are no signs at all.
  • While the presence of some of these physical, emotional or behavioral signs may be associated with, or dismissed as “adolescence,” we should be aware they are well known, documented warning signs of sexual abuse.

Step 3.       Know What to Do

  • Since over 90% of sex crimes committed against children are committed by either family members or someone known to the child, we should minimize the amount of alone time any child spends in one-on-one situations with an adult.
  • Demand that adults with access to children involved in school, school bus transportation, extracurricular activities, sport programs, summer camps, music, dance, gymnastics, skating or other one-on-one teaching lessons are subject to mandatory background checks.
  • Don’t leave children in the care of adults with known alcohol or drug problems.  Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Understand why a child might not tell. Children remain silent because of manipulation and misplaced guilt, shame, fear and to protect others.  If you suspect abuse and your child won’t tell, don’t assume abuse isn’t happening.  If you suspect abuse, trust your instinct, understand why a child might not tell and get help.
  • Use positive stories in the news as a catalyst for discussion. When you hear about the next Amber Alert, discuss it with your child. Let kids know that there is a system in place that alerts adults and law enforcement that a child needs help. The next time the news reports a missing child being reunited with their family, talk about it. Fear is the tool of the perpetrator.  As scared as a child may be during an assault, or an abduction, if they know that people are looking for them, if they know people are going to help them, the child may find some peace and hope in those thoughts.  Positive stories in the news, discussed with children before they need to rely on them, may just be the hope they need to get through their own experience.
  • Tell your child now, that you will believe them, they can trust you and you will help them.One way perpetrators manipulate their child victim is by telling the child no one will believe them. If a child knows before they’re abused, that you will believe them, that they can trust you and that you will help them, you’ve taken away the perpetrators leverage over the innocent child.

Step 4.       Know Where to Go

  • If you suspect child sexual abuse, anonymous and confidential help is available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Consider reaching out to ChildHelp at 1-800-4-A-Child. You can visit their website at www.childhelp.org or call RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE. RAINN’s website is  www.rainn.org

Step 5.       Know What to Say

  • I pray that you’ll never, ever need to know what to say, but should a child ever disclose to you that they’ve been sexually abused, the child needs to hear you say, I believe you. You can trust me. I will help you.

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Keith Smith, the author of Men in My Town, is a Survivor of a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault and a Keynote Speaker on the topic of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

The story of Keith’s assault and his transition from sexual assault victim to survivor has been featured in newspapers and magazines and his program, “5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Kids Safe” has been discussed on radio and television.

Keith has lobbied government officials to prevent cutbacks to sex abuse prevention and counseling programs and he’s testified before the New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee seeking to eliminate the statute of limitation in civil actions relating to sex crimes committed against children.

Keith’s story has been covered by the New York Times. He participated in Oprah Winfrey’s award-winning show, 200 Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, was featured on Perspective : New Jersey with ABC Investigative Reporter Nora Muchanic and appeared on Anderson Cooper’s Special, State of Shame: The Penn State Sex Abuse Scandal.

More information is available at www.MenInMyTown.wordpress.com

Information about his novel, Men in My Town can be found at www.tinyurl.com/MenInMyTown

Keith’s Men in My Town LinkedIn Profile can be viewed at www.LinkedIn.com/in/MenInMyTown

Email Keith Smith at MenInMyTown@aol.com

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Keith Smith discusses “5 Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe” live from NBC Studios in NYC

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on April 18, 2011

Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and author of Men in My Town discussed his abduction and “5 Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe,” live at NBC Studios in New York with JenniFDB and Cat Hernandez.  Click here to listen to the show.

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Here’s Keith’s story.

“At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving.  Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. Thirty five years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.”

“Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my longtime friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

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The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Keith Smith talks with Drs. Aaron and Margaret Jamal about Eliminating the Statute of Limitations in Sex Crimes Against Children

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on April 8, 2011

 Click this link to listen to Keith’s interview with Drs. Aaron and Margaret Jamal, “Live on Blog Talk Radio” 

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 Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Click this link to watch Keith’s live testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee requesting their support of NJ Senate Bill S-2405, a Bill to Eliminate the Statute of Limitations in Sex Crimes Against Children.

Here’s Keith’s story.

“At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving.  Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. Thirty five years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.”

“Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my longtime friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

___________________________________________________________________

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

“Men in My Town” now Ranked # 1 on Amazon Kindle Best Sellers List

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on March 23, 2011

Men in My Town by Keith Smith is currently ranked Number 1 in Biographies & Memoirs – New England.

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Read Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Rhode Island’s quintessential true crime novel. Based on Actual Events.  Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor Discusses 5 Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on February 24, 2011

Just click this link to Blog Talk Radio to hear the live interview covering my experience as a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor plus “Five Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.”

1. Know the Facts about Childhood Sexual Assault

2. Know the Signs

3. Know What to Do

4. Know Where to Go

5. Know What to Say

Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Read Chapter 1 free on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or Kindle

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on December 24, 2010

Read the first chapter of “Men in My Town” FREE on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry or Kindle.

Just click this link, go to the green box labeled, KINDLE EDITION, located half way down the right side of the screen, then click ‘Read First Chapter Free.” Enjoy Chapter 1 of Men in My Town !

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.  

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Healthy Place Mental Health TV calls Smith’s interview, “One of the most powerful interviews I have watched.”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 27, 2010

 

THE COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT

Healthy Place Newsletter, November 24, 2010 – This week’s Healthy Place Mental Health TV Show is one of the most powerful interviews I have watched. For several days, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why that was. Then it struck me. I was amazed by our guest’s courage.

For 35 years, Keith Smith kept the secret of his rape from all but a few. He lived with recurring nightmares, fears, and the shame that comes along with a horrible thing like rape.

Over recent time, Keith decided to unveil his secret. “It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

I hope you’ll watch this show. I found there was something very haunting about the power of Keith’s message and how he came to it. See if you feel the same way.

See Keith’s live interview exclusively on Healthy Place TV, America’s Mental Health Channel.

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Here’s Keith’s story.

Keith Smith talks about Childhood Sexual Assault

“At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivistpedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving.  Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. Thirty five years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.”

“Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my longtime friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of sexual abuse and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

___________________________________________________________________

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.  Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Smith’s book being made into screenplay

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 13, 2010

by JON BAKER                                                                                        Monday, November 8, 2010

LINCOLN — It took years for author and Lincoln native Keith Smith to be able to speak about his abduction and sexual assault, but he readily admits nowadays he’s free of all fear, guilt, shame and embarrassment that stems from being victimized.

In fact, he told over two dozen friends during his recent presentation, “Reasonable Steps We Can Take to Keep Children Safe” that his book Men in My Town is now being developed into a screenplay by former Lincoln resident and current Hollywood writer / producer Ron Truppa.

Smith talks about the necessity of having background checks on all personnel working with children in extracurricular activities, sports programs and summer camps during his program in Lincoln. TIMES photo by BUTCH ADAMS.

How that came to fruition is a story in itself, Smith smiled.

“Ron reached out to me in the first week of December 2009,” he recalled.  “He learned about Men in My Town from a posting on a Social Networking site. Although we had never met, Ron and I grew up in Lincoln, graduated from Lincoln High School and both went on to receive Political Science degrees from Providence College.”

“I was excited about getting a call from a writer / producer in LA.” he added. “In one of our early phone conversations Ron said, ‘I think I found the Rhode Island project I’ve been looking for.’ After a few phone calls and hours of conversations, I felt an immediate connection with Ron.”

A few weeks later, Truppa flew from Los Angeles to the Ocean State, and Smith drove from his home in New Jersey to Lincoln, and the tandem got together for an entire day, sharing stories and thoughts.

“We retraced the events of the night (March 1, 1974) from the Barber Shop on Front Street where I left my youth hockey team meeting, to the spot where I was abducted in Lonsdale, to where I attempted to jump out of the car in Fairlawn, to where I was assaulted in Lime Rock,” Smith noted. “We went to places described in Men in My Town, the bars, the basketball courts, the race track (now Twin Rivers casino), the police station, restaurants, the bowling alley, the streets in Fairlawn and to my assailants home on Washington Street in Central Falls. We captured the entire journey, our conversation and my description of the events of the night on film.”

“Over the past year, I’ve come to know Ron as a talented, creative, successful movie and television executive, an ‘L.A. Guy’ by way of Rhode Island. I’m glad he took an interest in developing Men in My Town as a movie. I’m really pleased we’re working together. I look forward to shooting this ‘Rhode Island story’ right here in Rhode Island.”

That’s not all for Smith who has testified to government officials to prevent cutbacks to programs serving child victims of sex crimes; appeared on several live radio and TV programs; and done blog interviews with “The Indie Spotlight” and Mike Angley, an award-winning author and retired colonel of the U. S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

And, this past Friday, he participated with actor Tyler Perry and 199 other men on Oprah Winfrey’s groundbreaking TV show she called “Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.”

When asked what’s next in his life, he stated he will continue to take his “Reasonable Steps We Can Take to Keep Children Safe” message on the road, seeking out opportunities with all types of media to publicize his speaking engagements; and to let people know he’s available as a keynote speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused.

As for his presentation at the Courtyard Marriott on Route 116 in Lincoln in late October, Smith promised it exceeded his expectations.

“It was wonderful to finally share with family and friends the story I’ve kept silent for so long.” he said. “Their support that evening, and their love and friendship over the years, has been a source of great strength and support. They’re a great group of people, and I’m fortunate to have them as family and friends.”

For those who wish to purchase his book, they are available for $14.99 in paperback and $9.99 Kindle at http://www.amazon.com

He stated it consistently has been ranked in Amazon’s Top Ten Biographies & Memoirs in New England and is currently ranked No. 6 after being at No. 2 throughout August.

“Between paperback and Kindle sales, over 1,000 copies of Men in My Town have been sold,” he said proudly.

Keith Smith participates in Oprah Winfrey’s “Landmark Show” on Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 13, 2010

Keith was one of 200 men who appeared with Tyler Perry in Oprah Winfrey’s ground-breaking shows on Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Two shows, broadcast on November 5th and November 12th, highlight several courageous men who share their personal stories of sexual abuse and the profound effects the abuse has had on their lives.

When asked about the importance of participating in the show, Keith said, “My hope is that one boy, or one man, age 7 or 70, sees the show, sees 200 male survivors, and comes to realize they’re not alone. I hope the show allows boys and men to find the strength they need to break their silence, to speak out about their own personal abuse and be able to shed the misplaced fear, shame and guilt that has been hurting them for so long so they too can begin the transition from sexual assault victim to sexual assault survivor.”

Click here to see Oprah November 5th – 200 Adult Men Who Were Molested Come Forward

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Here’s Keith’s story.

“At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving.  Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. Thirty five years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.”

“Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my longtime friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

___________________________________________________________________

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com