I founded Stop It Now! in 1992 because I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. As I grew up, I learned there are millions of us in society, many who are suffering and feeling unnecessary shame because of society's decades of ignorance and denial. In 1992, there were very few prevention programs and those that did exist focused exclusively on teaching children basic protection skills. Those programs were an important and necessary first step, but the gravity and complexity of child sexual abuse required more, and different, programs if sexual abuse was to be prevented before it happens.
Many people have a part to play in preventing child sexual abuse. If you know someone who is or could be abusing a child, you can learn to ask the right questions of that person. If you are someone who has abused, or feels at risk to abuse, you can learn how devastating your behavior will be. There is help and treatment available that can help you change. Everyone involved with children needs to learn that sexual abuse is a crime, and children themselves can be reinforced in the truth that they have a right to their sexual and physical well-being.
Stop It Now! was started, and still exists, to provide information and hope. Even though child sexual abuse still harms many children and families, individuals need courage to face sexual abuse in a straightforward way. When people get the right information, and suggestions about what actions they can take, they find the strength it takes to make the right choices. Anyone who needs help can call the Stop It Now! Helpline.
After thirteen years of heading Stop It Now!, I have moved away from the leadership role. I have not, however, wavered in my belief that Stop It Now! provides a vital solution that would have made a huge difference in my life forty years ago. Stop It Now!'s pioneering work can keep our kids safer and healthier.
Finally, if you care about prevention, and child sexual abuse has touched your heart and mind, please click on the link to our Donation page. Stop It Now! is funded almost entirely with donations like yours. Each one, small or large, means that our work can continue.
Key Policy Speeches
"Where is Will Shakespeare When We Need Him? Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Children"
San Diego Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment, 2002
"A Prescription for Change on Child Sexual Abuse"
American Medical Association 2001
"The Impact of Sexual Abuse and its Implications for Our Work"
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
Promoting Public Safety through Sexual Assault Prevention and Sex Offender Management, 2000
Fran Henry featured in Smith College Archive
The pioneering work of Fran Henry and Stop It Now! in the field of child sexual abuse are documented in the Sophia Smith Collection of the Women’s History Collection at Smith College
- Fran Henry narrates her story for the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project. Read the transcript of Fran Henry's interview.
- Archives of selected, early papers of Stop It Now! (2003-2005).
by Fran Henry, October 2011
We invited Fran Henry, Stop It Now! founder and former Executive Director, to our offices and asked her about how she came up with the name "Stop It Now!". Read Fran's recollections here.
I sat quietly on a bench drawing deep breaths, realizing that I was about to bring an organization into existence. It was the fall of 1991. My passion to prevent child sexual abuse had transformed to an articulated program idea: to prevent harm by reaching people who were about to.
At the time, few people believed in how many people hurt children in this manner. Fewer still realized that the males and females closest to children were most likely to do the harm. Prevention programs depended upon children being able to recognize and report abuse. I knew from my own experience that this was a burden to great to bear for many children. But I did not want the focus to be on me or my experience - I wanted the organization to learn from adults who were in a position to prevent the abuse, if they only had the information and courage to do so.
As I sat on that bench, I could not explain why I had been so drawn to the hearings held that month in Washington, D.C., calling Anita Hill to testify why she felt Clarence Thomas should be reconsidered for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. I listened to every hour of the public testimony, admiring her for rock-solid belief in her own facts and feelings concerning sexual harassment by Mr. Thomas when he had been her superior.
Finally, a senator asked something like, "If these allegations are true and they affected you the way you say they did, Ms. Hill, why did you not report them at the time?" I felt transfixed by what I remember as her reply, "I just wanted them to stop."
I just wanted it to stop. I just wanted it to stop. I wonder how many children just want it to stop? Not being able to think ahead more than that, but simply wanting it to stop, without the power to make that happen.
So it was that on that bench I realized why I had listened to Anita's courage with a matched intensity. A message of truth needed to ring out to parents everywhere. We might educate, we might guide, but most of all we needed a message that clearly stated our goal. From that moment, I knew the name Stop It Now! would carry that message and that we would use the full name, because it is the message itself we want people to take to heart.