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Samantha Leonard: Survivor, Author, & Activist

By January 15, 2020 No Comments
EPISODE 13

Samantha Leonard: Survivor, Author, & Activist

Samantha Leonard is the author of “Groomed: Shining a Light on the Unheard Narrative of Childhood Sexual Assault,” a novel that tells the shocking tale of one young woman’s journey of abuse. Samantha wrote “Groomed” as a fictional story, drawing from her own personal experience being groomed for abuse, and from the personal experience of other child abuse survivors. She sat down with Consider Before Consuming podcast host, Garrett Jonsson, to discuss how, as a society, we need to become more aware of what grooming can look like, and how pornography often plays a role in desensitizing the victim to sexual abuse. Listen as Samantha draws from her and Blair’s (the fictional main character in “Groomed”) personal experience in the grooming process, and what we as members of society can do to recognize abuse, and intervene when it is happening. Samantha’s book “Groomed” can be found on Amazon. You can also find Samantha Leonard on her site, samantharaeleonard.com, or on Instagram @samantha__leonard.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Garrett: what’s up people? I’m Garrett Johnson and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming a podcast by Fight the New Drug. Before we jump into this conversation, we want to let you know that during this episode we discussed the grooming process and child sexual abuse. Listener discretion is advised.

Today’s conversation is with Samantha Leonard. She’s an amazing person who unfortunately personally experienced the grooming process when she was just a kid. Fast forward to today and she is now helping to shine a light on the unheard narrative of childhood sexual abuse, which can include perpetrators exposing the victims to pornography. She is the author of Groomed, which you can find using the links provided with this episode. With all that being said, we hope you enjoyed this episode of Consider Before Consuming.

We want to welcome to the podcast, Samantha Leonard.

Samantha: Thank you, Garrett. I’m so happy to be here.

Garrett: Yeah, absolutely. We are excited to sit down with you and your from New Jersey.

Samantha: Correct.

Garrett: And uh, you’re in studio today. So although you’re from New Jersey, it’s nice to have you in studio. That’s a good opportunity for us. Um, the reason why we wanted to bring Sam on is because Sam wrote a book and the book is titled Groomed. And I had the opportunity to meet Sam a while back and, um, and I was able to read your book.
Samantha: Thank you for doing that.

Garrett: And I will link to this episode your book where it can be purchased, and we’ll also link to this episode where we can find you, um, websites and social media so that our listeners can reach out and read Groomed and also reach out to you if they have any questions.

Samantha: Yeah. Thank you so much, Garrett. I love connecting with people who’ve read the book and it’s available on Amazon as a paperback and as an ebook. So, um, there’s different options for whatever works and I’m working on my audio book right now, so that’ll be coming out soon.

Garrett: Good. Yeah, it’s good to have all three options, book, ebook and audio book because everyone’s so different when it comes to reading and consuming content. So, um, well I have to say Sam, after reading your book, after getting started on your book, I couldn’t put it down like it was, it was very, uh, intriguing for me. And some reasons why it was intriguing for me was because, um, one because I belong to a society, I feel that it’s important for me to be educated on the grooming process so that I can identify it, um, if that ever occurs in my life. And then also more specifically to me as a caregiver to my kids. Um, I felt like it was a great, um, a great educational tool to help me become more aware of the grooming process. And so, um, first thing I want to do is just thank you on a personal level for, for writing the book and for making that happen because, for our listeners, as you go and check out the book, you’re going to see that it’s a very quality book and you, it looks like you put in a lot of time and effort and had a lot of help.

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. So this book, um, I have to credit my family and my friends for supporting me through it and all the people that I interviewed and everyone who was there along the way for me in this journey in getting to this point of publishing the book. Um, but I also have to thank you for doing this work with Fight the New Drug. I think that I never would have envisioned myself sitting here with you when I first began writing the book because I never thought that, um, I don’t think I would have identified with, uh, pornography as being a part of the grooming process, although it was for me. And when I first got connected with you guys, someone had recommended that I reach out and try to work with you guys. And my initial gut reaction was, “Ooh, I don’t know about that.” Like that, that seems a little uncomfortable. And, um, I wanted to kind of run away from it. And in that moment I realized, no, that’s exactly the discomfort I need to be leaning into. And I think so many people, um, are a little hesitant to pick up the book. You know, for that reason it, it first feels like that element of discomfort and um, I really believe that people grow outside their comfort zone. And so I think that when we feel that feeling of, Ooh, this doesn’t feel comfortable, this doesn’t feel happy or good, well, you know, maybe that’s a learning opportunity for us. And like you said, as a citizen, um, as a member of society, I think it’s important that we all want to grow, um, to make our communities more loving and safer, especially for children.

Garrett: Right. Yeah, that’s well said.

Samantha: So thank you for doing the work too. I’m really happy about this partnership.

Garrett: Yeah, we are too. And once again, I just got to emphasize to our listeners, you’ve got to get this, you need to read it because it is a great warning and the way the book’s laid out, it lays it out in a time sequence as to when the perpetrator selected the victim. And then it goes from I think like 20 months or 22 months until the first sexual encounter and it counts down from there. Right?

Samantha: Right. So I felt that it was really important to show how many months it actually took for, um, between the victim actually meeting the person that abused them to the actual first encounter of abuse because it just goes to show how much time we have to intervene. This isn’t something where we need to, um, like it, it’s something that happens instantaneously. This is something that happens over a long period of time and not only is the child being groomed but the community, the parents, um, the other caretakers are being groomed as well. So I just found it empowering that there was this long period of time for people to work with, for people to see these signs and listen to their gut. I like how you said that this book is a warning because I think often times it’s not, I don’t want to encourage people to walk around with fear.

I just want to encourage people to listen to their gut feelings and if they feel like something’s not right, like lean into that and start to ask questions. And there are certain red flags that I point out in the book, and just having that simple awareness kind of helps us be more in tune with our intuition. So when we see the red flags and we feel this gut feeling, we can put those two together and say, I’m not crazy for feeling this way. I’m not crazy for thinking that something, it might be slightly off here and I’m going to ask some questions that I’m going to start to do something about this.

Garrett: Yes. And I liked what you said, just barely. You said you don’t want people “walking around with fear.” And I think one of my favorite sayings and theories is that “There’s nothing safer than being competent.” And I think as caregivers and as members of society, we often think like when we put, when a person goes to buy a book like this, it can be intimidating because a lot of us don’t want to acknowledge that this is happening. And then we start getting to the point where I don’t want to, some, some of us as caregivers don’t want to talk to our kids about the anatomy of the human body, about healthy relationships, about healthy sexuality. And because oftentimes we’re scared that that’s going to spark curiosity or the conversation can be a little bit awkward for some of us. And so we don’t want to touch that.

It’s basically, almost like we’re, we’re sometimes avoiding that conversation, those healthy conversations that should be happening because of fear and we think that can be keeping our kid safe. But going back to that quote, “There’s nothing safer than being competent.” And I think that’s what your book did for me was it helped me be more competent in identifying grooming and then what to do if I ever see it or am a victim of it. And when I say that I could be a victim of it is because, just like you said, the guru rooming process happens to the individual who’s being groomed directly, but also to the surrounding members of the family and the community.

Samantha: Yeah, that’s, that’s really well said and I’m glad that that’s what you took away from the book because that is, you know, what I wanted people to feel is that to walk away feeling educated and informed. Um, and then for survivors who read the book to feel validated because so many times you think that you’re alone in this process and you think you’re the only one who’s ever experienced it. And I’ve had people read this book and say, this happened to me. Like I had no idea how methodical this was. Um, that there’s, there is a formula to the process that happened to me that other people have experienced it. And now I understand why this isn’t my fault and that it wasn’t my fault and I can move on with my life, you know, not living in shame.

Garrett: Right. Well, I wanted to go over some stats. Yeah. And I got these from rain.org and rain is an acronym it stands for, for our listeners that don’t know, it’s stands for rape, abuse, incest national network, and on rainn.org um, rain is spelled with two n’s. They have some stats and some of them stood out to me as kind of eye openers to how prevalent sexual abuse and sexual violence are in our country and in the world. And this stat is, is surprising. It says every 73 seconds and American is sexually assaulted. And then another one that stood out was that five out of every 1000 rapists will end up in prison. And it’s interesting going back to pornography, it’s interesting because there are complete genres of pornography that are based on rape, genres that are based on abuse and a genre that are based on incest. And then another thought that I had was the bystander effect is “the bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation.” And I think that the bystander effect is something that we need to talk about when we’re talking about grooming because we need to intervene.

Samantha: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I like that you brought up that there are specific categories of child pornography and incest pornography. So in my research writing this book, I found that the grooming process is oftentimes used to Lorde children into this child pornography category where they are desensitized to looking at the naked body. Um, it normalizes the sexual behavior. And, um, with the, the rape category of pornography, you know, you’re, you know, glamorizing and normalizing rape, but you’re also getting this small snapshot of someone being violently raped and that’s all you see. So you see this instant of a person being violated and then it’s over. But in fact, when someone is raped, they, their experience goes far beyond that initial interaction of violence. They experience posttraumatic stress, they experience depression, they have anxiety, they are dealing with the effects long after the incident occurs. So I think when we,

Garrett: And oftentimes before, so we’re not seeing what happened before or after.

Samantha: Absolutely. And so when we kind of in the media are portraying rape in this way, where it’s this instantaneous thing that happens and then it’s over. We’re not doing rape justice. I think that, um, you know, in the media and in pornography, it’s just really normalizing these behaviors and not really doing any justice to how they actually affect people. Um, so it’s really, really unfortunate,

Garrett: Right. Another, another study or another stat that stood out to me, it was that one in 10 children will be sexually assaulted by the time they’re 18, one in 10!

Samantha: One in 10 and 93%. 93% of those people will know their abuser.

Garrett: 93%? Wow. Um, some other stats that I got from your book were the 73% of the victims won’t tell anyone for at least a year. 45% won’t tell for at least five years. And then some will never tell.

Samantha: Yeah. And there’s been many people who’ve read my book and, and I’ve said to me, “You know, this happened to me when I was a kid and I’ve never even told my wife or my husband about it.” So I mean, it’s definitely a reality for people.

Garrett: And that’s one reason why we wanted to speak to it. And that’s one reason why we’re so fortunate to have an activist like you, Sam, who is putting in the work. And the reason why I say that is because when someone hears your experience, or when someone reads your book, they are able to finally speak about it. It gives them language. Right?

Samantha: Yeah.

Garrett: And that’s one of the very first to healing to transitioning a mindset is education and then empowerment to talk. Right?

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. I always say, um, to people when they say like, “Well, where do I begin on this healing journey?” I think it’s just, it starts with yourself really, um, before you can even connect with another person. I think it’s just knowing within yourself. Like, “I was abused and it wasn’t my fault.” Um, and then finding a person that you can talk to about it. Um, and I think for people who are listening that I’ve had someone disclose to them, it’s really scary. You know, it’s really scary when someone tells you that they’ve had this experience, especially if you’re the first person they’re telling. Um, and so what I would say to that is you need to just give them whatever power and control, give it right back to them. Just ask them what they need. There’s nothing you can do to fix them in that moment or ever. Like they don’t need to be fixed. You just need to sit with them and tell them that they’re brave and because they are, and thank them for sharing and just whatever they need in that moment. Like give them their options and empower them to choose whatever they want. Because so much power and control has already been taken from that person.

Garrett: Yeah.

Samantha: So whatever you can do to just give them options and allow them to make whatever choice they want is going to be the best thing you can do for that person.

Garrett: Yeah. Well, I want to kind of jump into the book a little bit more. Um, the subtitle of the book is Shining a Light on the Unheard Narrative of Childhood Sexual Assault. And I think in a person who hasn’t experienced it, abuse and the grooming process, it was challenging to understand how Blair in the book got to the point that she viewed the perpetrator as the only person who could give her genuine love.

Samantha: Yeah. Um, it’s a, it’s a very powerful grooming process and um, you get to the point as a victim where you’re so isolated and, and you become brainwashed, um, where you think the only person that loves you is the perpetrator. And you know, if anyone found out what was going on, then no one would love you because of the shameful things that you’ve been done. And I think pornography is a great example of that. So I know for me in the grooming process, I was shown pornography, um, from my perpetrator and it wasn’t even something significant for me to look back on, to be honest with you. Um, it wasn’t until, uh, hearing about you guys with Fight the New Drug that I could really go back and pinpoint that as something that had affected me because it was so casual. And in the grooming process it was like, “Come here, come sit on my, um, I want to show you something for a couple seconds.” and then, you know, hop off and go.

So there you see desensitizing from touch, just sitting on someone’s lap and feeling like, Oh, it’s okay if this person touches me, you know, in this casual way. Oh, they just showed me something that was kind of uncomfortable, but they didn’t seem too uncomfortable by it. So it must be fine. Sex must be fine. Now I’ve seen a naked male body move on with your day. Um, and now not only are you desensitized to touch and seeing the naked human body, you’re put in this place of shame because if anyone found out that I just watched pornography, they would not like me. I would be in trouble. I would be thought of as weird. So continuing to isolate, isolate and shame into secrecy, um, is a huge part of that. And so that’s part of the sexualization of their relationship, which doesn’t happen until stage five.

You are almost, you’re a year in to the grooming process at that point, which is why it’s so vital that people know these signs so that we can intervene before we get there. Of course, grooming is going to have a detrimental effect at any point in the grooming process. Wherever we catch it, we’re going to have to do some healing work and repair what we think of as love and healthy relationships. But my hope would be is that we can intervene, intervene before we get to that stage five.

Garrett: As soon as possible.

Samantha: As soon as possible.

Garrett: And maybe you can speak to either your personal account, um, or to Blair’s experience. Where does the manipulation start?

Samantha: Um, I mean I think that the manipulation starts just in the fact that as a child you are told to listen to adults. And so when a person who is an adult takes advantage of that power, um, I mean that’s, that’s manipulative. And so I think that happens right from the very beginning is using that power to decrease their risk of getting caught rather than to care for a child or to do something good. So I think, you know, power is something that can be used for good and it became be can be used for bad. And so I really urge people to use the power that they have as adults, as caregivers, as community members to do good for the children in their communities rather than let other people take advantage of their power.

Garrett: Do you have any advice for caregivers? How can we arm the kids that we care for with vocabulary as well as with an attitude that they are just as important as any other adult?

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of it comes with age appropriate conversations at every age. Just at what you know when your child is to how much about the human body are they going to understand when they’re three? You, how can we add to this vocabulary? And there’s a lot of tools out there. Um, Darkness to Light has a lot of, um, resources and guides online for every age on, um, how to talk to a child, how to talk to a special needs child can also be tricky and important. Um, and there’s a lot of resources out there for that. Um, and like you mentioned attitude, I think, you know, reminding our kids that they don’t need to hug anyone that, you know, that is up to them how they want to communicate their affection. Um, knowing what their private parts are, knowing the real names for their private parts and just not making sex and human body a taboo topic.

Um, I think is really important because that, you know, creates a lot of fear around talking about these sorts of things. So, um, I think that staying open and honest with our kids is, is key and, you know, always encouraging consent and that you have, you know, your body is your own and you have the right to welcome affection or to not welcome affection. And you don’t need to explain yourself a simple no is enough.

Garrett: Yeah.

Samantha: That also makes me think of, um, caregivers like limiting beliefs on where abuse can happen. Uh, I think oftentimes we think that there are like certain safe zones like, “Oh, when they’re at school, like I don’t have anything to worry about.” or “When they’re at this friend’s house, they don’t, I don’t have anything to worry about.” But maybe “When I go out into the community I should keep my eyes out.” So we kind of like turn off our blinders in certain settings and then turn them on and other settings. And I think that’s really limiting. Um, we need to kind of ditch those limiting beliefs and turn that sensor on all the time and just listen. You know, like I said, it doesn’t need to mean walking around in fear, but it just means like, Oh, if you feel that signal, like something is wrong here, don’t dismiss it just because you feel like you’re in a safe zone. Um,

Garrett: where did, um, either once again, your personal account order in the account that you wrote and Groomed with Blair. Um, and by the way, for our listeners, I keep referring to Blair as if you know who it is, but Blair is the fictional character in Groomed, um, and some of the other characters are her best friend, Marissa. And then the perpetrator is Jack, which is, he’s a tutor, coach, mentor in the community,

Samantha: Yes.

Garrett: and then your Blair’s mom and dad. Um, and so those are the different characters to kind of play rules in this book. So you can talk to either your personal account or Blair’s account. Um, but where, when you, you were talking about feeling uncomfortable, those moments where your intuition tells you “Like this isn’t right.”

Samantha: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, when, when was the first time you had that feeling, either you or Blair, what was it that caused that spark of intuition?

Samantha: Well, I think in the book, um, Blair, I can remember writing and, and so all of the stories in the book are based on real events, whether it was from myself or from survivors that I interviewed, um, was just feeling like, “Oh, I just got a compliment from an adult.” And it was almost like this feeling of, this is kind of wrong, but it feels good to be told like that I was pretty bright and adult. So it’s this kind of, I’m like, “Ooh, this is like secretive and kind of thrilling and it feels good, but I’m not sure if it’s right.” So you kinda just don’t want to tell anyone because it could be shameful. Um, so you kind of hide and keep it to yourself. And so I think that was, that’s like one of the first things I’ve heard across the board is like, it feels good and you feel like it’s wrong, that it feels good. And, um, I think that’s an important thing to know for survivors out there is that like, it does feel good, like a lot of aspects of the relationship feel good. And that is the magic of the grooming process is that this person really gives you attention, affection, praise. They make you feel loved in a very unloving way.

Garrett: Oprah talks to that a little bit. She says she’s almost, I th I think the phrase that she uses is that she wishes that we could replace the word abuse with seduction, something like that.

Samantha: Yeah, sexual seduction.

Garrett: Yeah, because for the victim, that’s how it feels.

Samantha: Yeah. And these people who, um, are masters at the grooming process, they’re really good at what they do. They’re really good at making people feel good and not only the person that they’re abusing, but again, the whole community, they make people feel good and they make people put their guards down. They’re really have charming personalities

Garrett: In the book. There was progression in the inappropriate behaviors, what started off with, and maybe an inappropriate compliment in a secretive way, led to gifting.

Samantha: Yeah.

Garrett: And then it led to the person coming to your window with the friend around. And then it led to other things that continued to escalate. And so when you were talking about grooming the community, there was a couple times in your book where I was like, “What in the hell is going on here? And why is no one intervening?” So as I read the book, I was able to identify that. But that’s reading the book. It’s different when you’re in the community.

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. I think hindsight is 20/20. Right? So, so many times interviewing people. Um, there was one woman I interviewed and her, um, her child had actually taken her own life after having experienced the grooming process and sexual abuse and she looked back on it and she saw all the signs and in the moment she never ever in a million years could have imagined that this was going on. Um, in that case, the child was being babysat. It was a small child being babysat by a teenager and the teenager was taking advantage of the child. And so her limiting belief was, “Oh, a child could never abused a child.” And um, in fact, that was, that was exactly what was going on. And so I think, again, it’s these limiting beliefs of like, “That could never happen to me.” “That can never happen in my community.” “That person could never do that.” “That person has status and wealth and a good job and a family and a wife, they have kids of their own.” they coach the X, Y, Z team. Like all of these things cloud our judgment. Um, so like I said, leaning into that intuition, being informed, being competent, like you said, um, it’s all really important just to keep our community safe.

Garrett: That, um, explanation reminded me of a stat that I read recently from the NSPCC, which is the national, if I’m going to get this acronym correct, so national society to protect cruelty of children and as PCC and they kind of defined what is harmful sexual behavior. Um, they just acronym it as HSB and they have found that one third, I think if I’m getting this stat right, one third of sexual abuse or harmful sexual behavior is a child on a child. So when you get mentioned that example of the babysitter…

Samantha: Yeah.

Garrett: Um, as, as not an option, like that parent thought that wasn’t an option, but the stats are showing otherwise. And then another thing I’m learning is that when we’re talking about childhood, child on child sexual abuse and these different aspects of harmful sexual behavior, oftentimes it is learned from pornography.

Samantha: Absolutely. And I think that if you, I think if you notice a child watching pornography, I’ve seen parents really shy away from that and not want to talk about it cause it’s really scary and hard. That’s a really big red flag that something is going on, especially if it’s beyond what their age of natural curiosity might be. That there, there might be somewhere else that they’re learning about pornography or learning about sex. Um, and like you said, you know, this is if the other way around, if they’re learning these behaviors from pornography, they’re normalizing these violent and abusive tendencies and realities around sex.

Garrett: One thing that I liked about your book that it acknowledges is that every situation, every individual is unique. But the book, basically the purpose of the book is to highlight the red flags like you said.

Samantha: Yeah.

Garrett: Can you talk to a couple other red flags that you haven’t mentioned yet?

Samantha: Oh yeah. So, um, we talked about gift giving as a red flag. If you see a child coming home with gifts or money that you don’t know about, um, definitely be wanting to know where they come from. Um, another red flag would be, um, any sort of secrecy. And this is hard because children like to have their privacy, right? So as parents, uh, many times we’re encouraged like, or I’m not a parent, but parents are encouraged to allow children to have their privacy. Um, but monitoring, monitoring is not a bad thing. Um, when children are at this stage where they are very vulnerable to other people, other adults, um,

Garrett: There is a weird balance you have to play between giving privacy, educating and monitoring.

Samantha: And oftentimes it’s different in every situation with every child. It might not be the same as your son as it is for your daughter or vice versa. Um, so I think staying attuned, you know, to the social media that your children are on online grooming is becoming a larger and larger presence where there’s fake profiles being created online, reaching out to children and then meeting up with them. Um, that was something I encountered a lot in my research for my book. Um, what other red flags do I list in here? It’s like drawing a blank.

Garrett: I think there was one where the adults, this is a red flag that was in secret. So it would cause when, when, when we talk about intervening in an ideal situation, the victim would be empowered to intervene. And I remember at one point in the book the perpetrator said inappropriate things and um, the two young girls in this book, Blair and Marissa, they didn’t know how to react. They weren’t empowered in that way. Unfortunately. In an ideal world, they would have had the education and to intervene for themselves kind of, right?

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah.

Garrett: And I’m not victim blaming at all. I’m just saying in an ideal situation, we would encourage our kids and empower our kids to be able to identify some of these inappropriate behaviors, some of these red flags

Samantha: And, and to be able to intervene and not feel shameful about it.

Garrett: Right.

Samantha: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, um, you know, along with that red flag, anytime a kid is shying away from their friends, um, it’s, it’s a red flag that something’s up, you know, so it doesn’t always need to point towards grooming. But I think a lot of these red flags are, you know, just, uh, uh, a signal of tune in. I’m like, “What’s going on?” We know that this is one option. We don’t need to be dead set. That it’s exactly what’s going on. You know, I think everyone has, like I said, everyone has their own story, their own journey, and they’re always empowering and wanting to empower people to, to share that, to embrace who they are and heal whatever wounds that have been done to them. So, um, you know, you know, we see people shying away from their friends. That could be because maybe their friends are being jerks or it could be they’re being isolated. There’s someone demonizing the people in their lives. Um, and we need to figure this out, figure this puzzle out. So, um, yeah, I think, I think these are just powerful tools in general for people to, yeah. To tune in.

Garrett: I think it’s most important for those people that really want to take action to do their part, to empower themselves, to intervene in potential situations. I think the most important thing is for them to get educated to get your book to read it.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Garrett: And participate in that way.

Samantha: I also just want to say that although this book is very hard, um, I don’t want to, um, portray the world as being all bad. And I think that since I’ve had my experience, I’ve already seen improvements on how, um, we treat people who’ve been sexually assaulted.

Garrett: What year was it? Just to give us a little bit of context as to when your,

Samantha: So it was about 10 years ago. So we can say about like, it’s been about 10 years time. And um, there wasn’t really much media coverage about this like generally in the media. And, um, whenever it was, it was very, um, like a taboo thing to talk about. Very shameful. And I can say that today with the me too movement kind of arising.

Garrett: Yeah. That happened back in 2017, right?

Samantha: That happened more recently and that really did give me a lot of power to want to speak out because I felt like, Oh, people are talking about this. I’m allowed to talk about this now.

Garrett: Exactly.

Samantha: Um, so I see huge improvements and although the media doesn’t always shine a light in the right way, we still see victims being villianized. Um, but the media is shining a light on real experiences. So we can see that victims are being villainized victims have always been villainized.

Garrett: Yeah.

Samantha: We just haven’t been able to see it before. So I’m grateful that the media has started to cover this. And even if it’s not being covered in the right way, it’s being exposed and it’s being talked about. And that’s where the change in the conversation start to happen. So I do think we are moving forward. We’re taking steps forward, we’re taking steps backward. But ultimately I really see us moving in this positive direction. And I am, I’m hopeful. I’m really hopeful for the future. And I hope that this book can contribute to people’s competence and their knowledge base and make our community safer and more loving.

Garrett: Yeah. And on that same note, um, we want to acknowledge that just because someone has a challenge with pornography, um, or openly looks at pornography doesn’t mean that they’re going to become a perpetrator who acts and abuses people.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Garrett: We just want to be very clear about that. But there is a lot of science showing that the desensitization process of needing more and more often and a more hardcore version and in some cases that we’ve talked, some people that we’ve talked to and learned about is that more hardcore version sometimes means acting out on a person. And um, and then also like in your case where pornography was used in the grooming process, um, we just want to acknowledge those things and to encourage people to do their part.

Samantha: Yeah, consider them.

Garrett: Yeah, consider before consuming and then also, um, do their part to empower themselves to make for a healthy society.

Samantha: Absolutely. So thank you for doing this work, Garrett.

Garrett: Yeah. Thanks. We appreciate all the work you’ve done, Sam. Um, once again, we’ll link everything to this episode for those people who want to check out your book. For our listeners who want to reach out to Sam, where can they find you?

Samantha: so they can find me on my website samantharayleonard.com. You can also, um, you can reach out to me, uh, via email, through a portal on there. You can also reach out to me on Facebook, Samantha Leonard or on Instagram. It’s Samantha__Leonard and my book can be found on Amazon that’s groomed, shining a light on the unheard narrative of childhood sexual assault.

Garrett: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Considered Before Consuming. Considered Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug. Fight the New Drug as a nonreligious and non legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on a term for effects using only science and personal accounts. If you’d like to learn more about Samantha Leonard and the conversation we had, you can check out the links attached to this episode. It’s been said that the average person makes about 35,000 decisions on the daily, whether it’s deciding to hit the snooze button, who you’ll spend time with, or whether you will turn to pornography or not. That’s a lot of decision making. Today as you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self awareness and consider the decisions you’re making. We invite you to look both ways, check your blind spots and consider before consuming.

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