- Massachusetts Probation Service
Media Contact for Author and survivor to address graduates of Probation’s Womanhood Program in Belchertown
Coria Holland, Communications Director
Massachusetts — Mary Picard, author of “Life with My Idiot Family, A True Story of Survival, Courage and Justice Over Childhood Sexual Abuse,” will serve as the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony for participants of the Eastern Hampshire District Court Probation’s Womanhood Program. The graduation will take place on Tuesday, May 22, 2 pm, at the courthouse on 205 State Street, Route 202, in Belchertown.
Co-written with her husband, Gary, Picard’s memoir focuses on her painful upbringing and journey as a survivor. Picard was a leading force in extending the statute of limitation in sexual abuse cases involving children. An adult abused as a child now has until age 43 in criminal cases and up to age 53 in civil cases to report their abuse. One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to Picard. Approximately 93 percent of perpetrators are known to the children they abuse, she said. Picard successfully sued her abuser in civil court and won.
“It was important for the statute of limitations to change so that victims could receive justice,” Picard said.
The author will address the seven women, ages 20 to 34, who are scheduled to complete the 10-week Womanhood Program, one of three in the state. The four-year-old Eastern Hampshire Probation program offers sessions on substance abuse, domestic violence, breast and cervical cancer. Other offerings include therapy through art, self-defense, and self-care. Job skills trainings such as resume writing, job search, and interviewing skills are also part of the Womanhood Program curriculum.
“We are extremely grateful that Mary Picard will be speaking at the Womanhood Program graduation and sharing her experience as a survivor with the graduates,” said Probation Officer Regina Sanderson, who established the program at the court. “Her story is one of survival and empowerment that I hope will give our graduates and others inspiration.
The Massachusetts Probation Service offers 11 Womanhood, Women’s, and Mothers programs for court-involved women as well as one program for both mothers and fathers in six counties across the Commonwealth.