ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Wednesday night, a woman shared her story about being a survivor of a frightening form of child abuse.
She was forced to marry before she became a teenager.
This week is National Child Abuse Victims Week. That's why Sherry Johnson advocates for more to be done to protect children.
She told the audience she was raped at nine years old.
Sherry Johnson was forced by her parents to marry her rapist at 11.
She recently helped get a law passed in Florida where kids under the age of 17 cannot get married.
She spoke at ASU's East Campus about surviving childhood marriage and what she has done to try to eliminate it.
According to Girls Not Brides, between 2000 and 2010, more than 248,000 children were married in the United States.
She was seven months pregnant before she went to a doctor and was told she was pregnant.
Johnson said she felt compelled to tell her story to the Albany community.
"I wanted to come to and put the information that I know that has happened with the bill to enlighten and to educate the community," said Johnson.
Late last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that will not allow kids under the age of 17 to marry.
Johnson has fought since 2012 to make this a reality.
But Johnson said her fight to end child marriage continues.
"Pass a bill of this nature, similar, preferably 18 straight across the board. I am excited to go in other states to be able to get a bill to be able to be passed in other states as well," said Johnson.
ASU Criminal Justice Club Public Relations Representative Joshua Times said Johnson had a positive impact on the audience.
"I'm glad she was able to come and share her story because I felt like she encouraged a lot of women to speak out and really show what they've been through," said Times.
Johnson said it will take a group effort to end child marriage in the U.S.
"Let's do this. Let's bring this to a close where no child will be married. And reach out to do what you can to help one another," said Johnson.
Here are several more events happening in remembrance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week:
Thursday, April 12:
- 8 a.m.: a Child Abuse Symposium at Albany State University West Campus in the Student Center College.
- 6:30 p.m.: a Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope in front Dougherty County Government Center on Pine Avenue.
Friday, April 13:
- 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.: a bowling family fun night at Albany Strikers on West Broad Avenue.