By Villena Koumis on July 12, 2011 · tagged as , , ,

10 year old acting on Green Dot

Eleni Koumis, 10 years old

As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, I always felt that children must be free to ask about adult behaviors that are confusing, even when it is behavior not related to sexual abuse. I realized how important it was for me to teach my children about sexual abuse and how to recognize it.

I remember the first time my daughter, Eleni asked me the question, “What is rape?” At the time, she was five years old, and it was a day that I had brought her to work, so she was exposed to posters and conversations. I simply told her, “It is when someone takes something away from you.” Hearing my own voice, I stopped what I was doing, knowing there was no other way around it. I had to tell her what it really meant — being touched without permission. I wondered how could I bring the discussion of sexual abuse into my family life and make it part of our conversations without feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

My daughter is now 10 years old, which means that for half of her life she has been exposed to news and conversations on the topic of child sexual abuse. This knowledge has made her well aware of her surroundings. When approached or put in an uncomfortable situation, she speaks up and does not hesitate to state her feelings. About a month ago, there was a particular incident that happened at her school, and she wanted to share it on CALCASA’s blog. Below is her story:

At school during lunch time in the cafeteria, my friends and I were eating lunch. Our backs were facing the boys sitting behind us at the other table. There were three boys who always picked on my girlfriends and I almost every day. On this day, only two of the boys were involved. (We will call them Paul and Peter.) They sometimes say things like, “Hey, Timmy likes you and you like him.” But on this day, Paul and Peter said, “Hey, Timmy wants to rape you.” Then Paul says directly to me, “Timmy had you three times.” In my head, I thought, “WHAT?!” I told them, “That’s sexual harassment!” They laughed at me. One of my girlfriends told me to ignore them. I told no and that I am going to tell the teacher. I can tell they were embarrassed and scared. They got a warning from the teacher. Paul came and apologized to me.

After Eleni shared her story with my husband & I, she also shared her story with CALCASA staff and sat down with some key staff and learned about Green Dot! She was so proud of herself that she wanted to share her story on CALCASA’s website. I am glad she knows what is right and that she speak up in whatever community she is in. I encourage you to find ways to talk to your children about this issue and help him/her understand how to respond if it ever occurs. No one should tolerate being harassed. My husband Lefteris, Bobby (her big brother) & I are very proud of Eleni.

More Posts by Villena Koumis

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Uncle Tim July 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Good Job, Eleni! We’re proud of you!

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Bonnie July 20, 2011 at 7:32 am

Good for her! It sets a good example for both her friends and those boys on what is unacceptable and how to handle it. And good for you too, for teaching her.

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Yadira July 20, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Eleni,
It takes a very courageous young lady to do what you did. I admire you for taking a stand against sexual harassment and protecting what is rightfully yours. You are a true inspiration for many children.

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Ricky August 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

Outstanding Eleni and great job Villena (Mom)

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Sarah August 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

I work with students Eleni’s age and older and give presentations about these very issues. I hope, and believe it is likely, that Eleni understands that by standing up for what she believes in around her peers she is doing much much more to stop sexual violence than one presentation ever could and that it is students like her that keep educators like myself doing my job day after day.

Thank you, Eleni – you are not just an inspiration for others your age but for adults, too.

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Deborah August 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for sharing with us. I appreciate you taking that stand that you did. It’s important that young boys realize what sexual harassment is all about before they become uninformed, abusive men.

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Joan August 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Awesome Job. How intelligent and strong of her to speak up and not accept such abuse. I admire her bravery and I am sure her friends admire her also.

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Rikki August 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Thank you for sharing this story. I think it is fantastic that Eleni is not afraid t speak up as well as inform the proper people of the incident. “Way to go girl!”. This also show other girls they don’t have to be afraid to speak up and not to ignore inappropriate behavior. Thank you and best of wishes to you.

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Eddie Zacapa August 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Eleni,

I so appreciate you sharing this story with us and your willingness to share with others. Your taking a stand brings more hope to the world.

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James August 17, 2011 at 6:54 am

Great Job Eleni!!! I am happy that she did that not only did it show her and her friend how to stand up for themselves but it showed the boys, that kind of behavior should not be tolerated!

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Ma'at August 17, 2011 at 9:07 am

Oh wow! True strength is not how physically strong we are, the truest strength comes from inside. It comes from things like… doing the right thing, especially when no one else will. Eleni, you are amazing!

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Dorothy August 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

Eleni,
My name is Dorothy Edwards and I created Green Dot about 5 years ago with the hope that I could make the world safer for my two daughters and two sons. What you did helped make that hope come true. Not only did you do a green dot in your school, but now your one green dot is turning into hundreds of green dots as people all over the country read about what you did and become inspired to do their own green dot. Thank you my friend. I am honored to work by your side to make the world a safer place for children everywhere!

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Michelle Aimone August 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

Great job Elena! I am so proud when I read about a young girl who is not afraid to speak up when she knows something is not right. You are helping to teach others kids about what is not acceptable behavior. That’s really important. Your words and actions also help others to not be afraid to speak out, too. You should feel proud!

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