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caption: Stephen Mills' Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood 
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Stephen Mills' Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood
Credit: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

One man’s story of the scourge of child sexual abuse


The Centers for Disease Control estimates “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys in the United States experience child sexual abuse.” They report that those numbers are very likely an underestimate, because “many children wait to report or never report child sexual abuse.” And the perpetrators? The CDC estimates that in 91% of sexual abuse cases that person is known by and trusted by the child or the child’s family.

Writer and activist Stephen Mills was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. He writes about that crime and his attempt to stop his perpetrator in his new book Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood. In this conversation, Mills covers what has and hasn’t changed over time in our understanding of childhood sexual abuse.

He says that while it is dangerously naïve for people responsible for protecting children to ignore the prevalence of such abuse, we do on a regular basis. He explains the ways in which we are programmed not to see it, and what we can do to stop it.

Mills is joined by Norene Roberts, the Multidisciplinary Team Coordinator and Facilitator at the Children’s Justice Center of King County. That agency was established to ensure safety for children, healing for victims, and justice for the community in cases of child sexual and physical abuse.

In this frank, illuminating conversation, they discuss what happened to Mills, what he did about it ultimately, how predators avoid exposure and are protected in certain ways by human nature and institutions, the rise of children’s advocacy centers around the country, and the important role they play in the recovery process.

The Elliott Bay Book Company presented this event on April 29, 2022.

Please note: This talk concerns childhood sexual abuse and contains unedited language of an adult nature.