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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American Troops in Afghanistan Reading Men in My Town

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on January 20, 2012
United States Marine, NATO Forces, Afghanistan. Semper Fi, Marine !

U. S. Marine Corps., NATO Forces, ISAF, Afghanistan. Semper Fi, Marine !

Lieutenant Colonel Denis Riel, Lincoln, RI - Kabul, Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Denis Riel. Lincoln, R.I., USA. Kabul, Afghanistan. One of the Men in My Town.

A boy is raped in Lincoln. His assailant is murdered in Providence. No one has ever been charged with the crime…someone got away with murder.

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 26, 2011

A boy is raped in Lincoln, Rhode Island. His assailant, beaten to death in Providence. No one’s ever been charged with the crime. Someone got away with murder.

My name is Keith Smith. 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. 36 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

“Smith has delivered a gripping, fast paced crime story, a captivating suspense novel inspired by actual events. It’s a true ‘someone got away with murder’ story you can’t put down; a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading Men in My Town.”

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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 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.”

___________________________________________________________________

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

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

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.

Keith discusses “Men in My Town” with Dr. Teena Cahill

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 18, 2010

 

Click this link to watch Keith discuss Men in My Town with Dr. Teena Cahill on “Wisdom and Beyond.”

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Keith Smith is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and author of Men in My Town.  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.

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

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

KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE – Author returns to Lincoln to do just that

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 12, 2010

by JON BAKER                                                                                        Monday, November 8, 2010

LINCOLN — One would think the last place Keith Smith, even in adulthood, would want to visit is his hometown.

After all, this is the place where — at age 14 — he had been abducted, beaten and raped by a warped pedophile who had a penchant for violence and sexual abuse against children.

On the contrary, Smith indicated he reveled in his return to Lincoln on this October night. Surrounded mostly by close friends during his childhood and teen-age years, Smith explained to his audience the happenings of that horrifying night — March 1, 1974 — and why he kept it a secret for over three decades.

More importantly, he wanted to use his experience — including the crimes against him and how he had come to write a book entitled “Men In My Town” — to educate adults as to how they may help their own children and grandchildren avoid such wrongdoings.

There he stood, in front of old pals such as Lt. Col. Denis Riel, Tim Tapley, Mary Catherine Dalton and Arthur Jacques in a Courtyard Marriott conference room, offering his presentation, called simply “Reasonable Steps We Can Take To Keep Children Safe.”

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.

“You know, I’ve wanted to host a formal event in Lincoln ever since I published ‘Men In My Town’ (in March 2009),” he stated after the program. “Although I moved away in 1982, Lincoln has always been home to me.

“In the past year, I’ve told my story to newspapers and magazines, hosted public readings (of the book) and discussed the ‘Reasonable Steps’ on radio and television programs,” he added. “I wanted to return to Lincoln, to where my secret started, to put an end to my silence; to tell my story to friends, family and fans; and offer hope to others who have shared a similar experience of sexual violence.”

Smith read the first two chapters of his novel, inspired by own facts of his abduction, then discussed rather scary statistics before driving home his five basic steps. They included “Know the facts;” “Be aware of the signs;” “Be aware of what to do;” “Know where to go;” and, finally, “Know what to say.”

Beforehand, though, Smith provided attendees some details behind that hellish crime. He talked about how he had been “thumbing” home after a hockey coach’s meeting at his barber shop that night, and felt guilty because he knew he shouldn’t have been. Once the assailant picked him up, and the youngster figured out something was seriously wrong, he tried to escape from the front passenger door, but the criminal had rigged the locking mechanism.

Likewise, he maintained he felt shame because he didn’t try hard enough to fight back.

He then explained to the audience that he had discovered via a newspaper article that his assailant had been beaten to death in August 1975, and police never did solve the murder.

“I sincerely believe that he was killed because of what had happened to me,” he noted. “There was a chance he could’ve grabbed another kid. People in the business told me he had been arrested (for similar crimes) a number of times, and I’m concerned he would’ve killed someone to stay out of jail if not for me.

“Why did I break my silence? I couldn’t take the fear, guilt and embarrassment anymore. Two years ago, I hit the wall. I jumped out of bed one night, from a sound sleep, literally screaming for help. That guilt was killing me, and that guilt came to an end that night. Was I guilty because I hitch-hiked? No! Because I didn’t fight hard enough? No!

“You’ve got to get to a point where you understand the guilt is misplaced — no more,” he continued. “Rape is not about sex, but a random act of violence. I’ve met hundreds of men, women and children who had been repeatedly attacked for weeks, months and years by people who were supposed to protect them. What happened to me was a random act of sexual violence.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys, and explained I had a predator with a rigged car driving down Smithfield Avenue, I’m a 14-year-old hockey player with a thumb out to get a ride, so (the situation) is like a lion seeing a wounded gazelle.”

**

The author, now 51 and living in New Jersey with his family, revealed under the “Know the facts” segment that 30 percent of child victims are sexually assaulted by a core family member or relative; and 60 percent by someone known to them.

“That would be a neighbor, coach, teacher, friend of the family or clergy,” he said. “Just under 10 percent are assaulted by strangers, and fewer than one percent are abducted and sexually assaulted by strangers. The odds are 50-50 if a child is abducted or sexually assaulted by such a stranger, and that abduction lasts over three hours, the child will be murdered.”

During a book reading and autograph session for his book, 'Men in My Town,' at the Courtyard Marriott in Lincoln, author Keith Smith receives a hug from Kathy Kelley, who grew up with Smith. TIMES photo by BUTCH ADAMS.

Smith then forcefully stated, ”with 90% of childhood sexual assaults committed by someone known to the child, the risk to your children isn’t necessarily with the stranger at the park, but may very well be with the person you allow to take take your child to the park.”

He detailed how to “Be aware of the signs” — and that, sometimes, there are none at all. He spoke of the physical signs (bruises, swelling, pain, rashes, cuts and self-mutilation); emotional signs (a happy, healthy child suddenly becomes sullen, sad, depressed, has nightmares, can’t sleep, ponders suicide); and the behavioral (combative, defiant, unusual changes in friends or things they once enjoyed, age-inappropriate sexual behavior or drug/alcohol abuse).

Under the “Be aware of what to do” portion, he indicated parents should minimize the amount of “alone” time your child spends with adults, and demand that adults involved in extracurricular activities, sports, summer camps or educational lessons be subjected to mandatory background checks.

“Don’t leave children in the care of adults with known alcohol or drug problems,” he said. “Understand why a child may not tell — guilt, shame, fear — (and/or) to protect others. Use positive stories in the news as a catalyst for discussion. Tell your child now that you believe in them, they can trust you and you will help them, no matter what.”

As for “Know where to go,” Smith told attendees either to call 1-800-4ACHILD (all information will remain confidential and anonymous), or visit the Web site www.childhelp.org.

And “Know what to say” dealt with the same as No. 3 — “Tell them I believe you, you can trust me and I will help you. If you tell them those things regularly, they won’t keep quiet, and the perpetrator will get arrested.

“I’m speaking out to raise awareness of male sexual assault, to let other boys and men — seven or 70 years old — that they are not alone,” he stated. “I want to help people, help kids, learn the ‘Reasonable Steps …’ My hope is that other victims of sexual abuse, boys or girls, can come to realize that they aren’t responsible for what happened to them.

“Once they truly believe it wasn’t their fault, they may be able to shed the dangerous, misplaced guilt they carry and begin the transition from sexual assault victim to sexual assault survivor.”

**

After his program, Smith first hugged his brother, Ken, then greeted most of the approximate 30 in the audience the same way.

“I came here because we were best friends,” noted Tapley, who grew up in the Fairlawn section near the Smith homestead. “I remember my sister calling me over a year ago and saying, ‘Did you here about Keith?’ and I said, ‘No.’ She told me he had written a book, and I asked her, ‘On what?’ She said, ‘He was sexually assaulted as a boy.’ I just responded, ‘Get outta here!’

“I never knew,” he continued. “Nobody spent more time with Keith than I did. When I found out, I called him in New Jersey, and we had an emotional conversation. I asked him ‘How did I not know this? We were together in high school all the time.’ He told me had been ashamed and embarrassed, and felt guilty.

“During his presentation, I could see the emotion in him. For him to do this here, it had to be hard for him, but I could also tell by his body language that he was retracing his steps that night. It showed me he’s at peace now.”

Smith agreed.

“There’s no doubt that that discussing my story with the press, media and during public speaking engagements this has helped me heal,” he offered. “But the real healing was achieved when I started to sincerely believe. I’m not responsible for what happened to me.

“When I was able to shed the guilt, shame, embarrassment and fear — by truly believing it wasn’t my fault — I was able to make the transition … But it’s not about my personal healing. It’s about using my personal experience, and my story, to help others.”

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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. 

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. Based on Actual Events.   Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.