OU coach Beckie Francis speaking out about being sexually abused - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

OU coach Beckie Francis speaking out about being sexually abused

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By Taryn Asher
FOX 2 News Reporter


ROCHESTER, Mich. -- Oakland University women's basketball coach Beckie Francis is breaking her silence and speaking out about her years of sexual abuse.  She's hoping her story helps other victims find their voice.

"There are certain flashbacks and scenes that come back over and over and over," said Francis.

For her, the sexual abuse by her own father started when she was just four years old and lasted until she was 13, but she didn't find the courage to talk about it until she watched Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts admit on national television he, too, was a survivor of sexual abuse.

"It just inspired me that he would speak out about that," Francis remarked.

Since then, she has shared her story with her church, her players and now has decided to go public.  Francis is hoping her experience will help others find their voice, especially young people who, in many cases, don't even realize they are victims of such heinous acts.

"We just need to be educated on it, and that's why I'm finally speaking out.  I'm actually really tired about hearing all the media stories, how this is going on, and no one wants to talk about it," Francis explained.

The statistics are shocking.  One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18.  93 percent of those victims will know their attackers.  That's why Erin Merryn is working to pass something called "Erin's Law".

"Erin's Law provides age appropriate curriculum into the elementary schools educating and empowering kids to tell, not to keep this a secret," she said.

Merryn, who is also a victim of sexual abuse, travels from state to state, including Michigan, campaigning for increased education.  That's how Francis and Merryn met, and Thursday night they will be sharing their personal experiences at Oakland University, which isn't easy, but is already inspiring others to get help.

"I'm getting e-mails... from people I don't even know, saying thank you for your courage.  This happened to me, and this is the first time I'm telling anybody.  I'm 61.  And that is so inspiring," said Francis.  "I just want survivors and victims -- I don't even like calling them victims -- I just want them to know that you're not alone and just break that silence, and every time you do and you talk about it, you become more free."

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