Missouri lawmaker shares experience as sexual assault victim

SIKESTON, Mo. - A Missouri state lawmaker is sharing her story of being sexually abused by her grandfather when she was a girl to help other victims.

Republican state Rep. Holly Rehder told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she was 11 years old when her grandfather crawled into her bed with her and started molesting her.

"He was the man in my life," Rehder said. "I loved him so much. It was like losing my security blanket, and realizing that there was no place in the world where I was safe."

Rehder, 48, said she didn't feel safe after the incident, but the next day when she went to her great aunt's house, she told her great aunt and her mom and neighbours.

"I told everybody," Rehder said. "I wasn't going to let him do it again. If somebody would have stopped him before, it wouldn't have happened to me."

Rehder, who is from the southeastern Missouri city of Sikeston, wrote down and is sharing her story because she was inspired by the women who have been coming forward with sexual harassment and assault claims against figures in politics, the media and entertainment, including movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Rehder, who was a candidate for speaker of the Missouri House earlier this year, said she hopes it will help stop such abuse from happening again.

"There is a cleansing to talking about this and getting it out," she says. "There is a strength and power in stopping your perpetrator, whoever he is."

Rehder's grandfather wasn't charged with a crime but he later sought treatment. He has since passed away.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com


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