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  • Julie Payne-Neward

Few Hours to Go until You are in the Know.....

Newton's third law states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In a few hours, you will know what we learned happened to Natalie Rose in 2012 and you will have a reaction. I can only imagine what you will feel, as I have yet to hear the story myself and see the moments their amazing photographer captured for the piece.

What I do know, is that we have a reputable journalist attacking the issue and bringing it to the world's attention. No, better yet, we are demanding the world's attention. NPR's journalist, Joe Shapiro, is doing a story series on the epidemic of people with intellectual disabilities being sexually assaulted.

I listened to the kick-off of his series this past Monday on the Morning Edition while commuting to work and my jaw dropped when I heard that people will intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely to be sexually assaulted than those that are not.

Saw what again ? If that happened at a preschool there would be outrage. I know this, because I am the mother of a preschooler and I visited the Department of Social Services licensing board when I was selecting a preschool looking for just that issue.

When I got home from work that evening, my husband who had also tuned in and is very news savvy, commented that the Department of Justice did not even have these stats published, it stuck with me. Let's read that again:

"People with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities. That number comes from data run for NPR by the Justice Department from unpublished federal crime data."

In May of 2017, we met Mr. Shapiro for the first time after The Disability and Abuse Project reached out to their Listserv subscribers for their stories, I immediately responded.

This is B-I-G.

The Disability and Abuse Project, spearheaded by Dr. Nora Baladerian has been my lifeline for support in this gray world that I wish never existed. (Thank you Nora!)

In Fall of 2013, barely one year married with a newborn, I read about a Roundtable Conference in Los Angeles. I love to make connections and contribute to a community that is taking form. I love the power that comes when a room full of smart, intelligent, and motivated people gather together to discuss a need or challenge.

With the minivan packed and a hotel night reserved, my mother Rosemary, Natalie, my precious new baby girl and I drove to Los Angeles so I could participate in the Roundtable Conference.

Once there, I knew I was in the right place when everyone was eager and thoughtful. It was Amazing. I did not know one soul in the room, but I made lasting connections.

These connections have led me to where I am at today; you are reading this Blog with me announcing that National Public Radio is going to feature our story tomorrow morning thanks to Dr. Nora Baladerian and her lifelong efforts, amongst many others in her circle.

I best get to bed. Until tomorrow.

In 24 hours