As many children within communities of color have become victims of sexual abuse, this survivor addresses this taboo topic in her new children’s book, Shanti’s Safe Space.
Meet Yolanda Garner Hutcherson, a new author from Hempstead, NY. Yolonda is a Social Worker who has a passion for helping children and families by investigating sex abuse cases in Nassau County. “People sometimes find it difficult to talk to children about their bodies, the correct names of their private parts, and how to keep it safe,” says Yolonda in our recent interview.
This book is not a regular children’s book, but one that tells a story about a 10-year-old girl who was sexually abused; however, she receives the support she needs by speaking out. Shanti knows then that she can open up about her story and tell someone all that has happened to her in the dark. Although opening up was tough for Shanti, she is happy with the kind of support and love she gets back after sharing her story with her loved ones.
The book was inspired by Yolonda’s personal experience as a child molested by a family member and the children she worked with throughout her career. “Each day, I am inspired by their stories and bravery.”
Yolonda worked on the book for six years and decided to double down on it during the pandemic. While it has been a journey from figuring out how to self-publish, finding an illustrator, she knew it was time to get it out to the world.
“I wanted to make sure the characters truly represented the people in our community.”
Through storytelling, Yolonda wants to bring awareness of sexual abuse in communities of color. The book can be a tool to have a conversation with children, establish trust, provide overall help and support for anyone who has been sexually abused.
“I want to continue to bring awareness to this topic and also help parents and caregivers create a safe space for these types of conversations.” Her hope is that this will help children identify the right people—sometimes outside of the home-to provide support, such as teachers, school administrators, and even police officers.
Yolanda is the Founder & CEO of Garner Hutcherson, LLC and a graduate of an HBCU, North Carolina Central University, and holds a Masters in Social Work from Adelphi University.
To learn more or to purchase the book, please visit: http://www.yolandahutcherson.com/