Protecting our children from abuse: Part 3

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Talking to and looking at Nicole Easton, you see confidence, independence and poise. She's a successful professional and community volunteer. But what you don't see is that she was the victim of child neglect and sexual assault. 

"My mom was a single mom," Easton said. "When I talk about my mom, she didn't intentionally neglect me" 

Easton was six and her mom needed daycare. A friend offered. Easton says it was there that she and another child were sexually assaulted.

"I didn't tell anybody, but my friend did." 

Easton never went back to that babysitter. Today, she has turned her experience into a teaching tool.

"I just have always felt that I was made for those struggles and what I was made for is to help other people overcome similar obstacles that I've suffered," she said.  

Easton is a volunteer with the Junior League of Wichita. Her goal is to help young mothers through a new program called "Two Lives at a Time."

With the help of the Wichita Children's Home, Easton and other volunteers will work with single moms so they don't put their children in dangerous situations and the cycle of abuse is ended. 

"Poverty often leads to poverty and you don't know what you don't know unless there's somebody there showing you another way," Easton said. "You won't learn another way." 

The Junior League of Wichita is made up of about 750 women volunteers. In may of 2011, the group decided to focus on child abuse by providing valuable volunteer time and money to local programs to help stop the trend.

"We want better," said Rachel Banning of the Junior League. "We want our children to be safe. There was no other issue so emergent and demanding of our attention" 

Between 2007 and 2015, 313 children in Kansas died because of abuse. Sixty-five percent of those deaths involved a parent.

Banning said the numbers make her sick. She hopes that with the help of Junior League volunteers and donations, those statistics will drop. 

Easton said she's a vehicle of hope for other people, and helping abuse victims and single mothers will be her driving force. 

"I hope they can look at me and say, 'She's been through this, but she got through it. And if she can get through it, then I can get through it, too.'" 

Junior League has donated $450,000 to the Child Advocacy Center and the Wichita Children's home. Its biggest fundraiser is the Holiday Galleria, which is next weekend at Century II. Click here for details.

RELATED:

Protecting our children from abuse: Part 1

Protecting our children from abuse: Part 2

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