Abuse tainted this senator's childhood. No other child will face it on her watch.
True
L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

Growing up, Lauren Book recalls that a shroud of secrecy veiled her family.

All photos courtesy of L'Oreal Paris and Lauren Book.

Her mother lived with a mental illness. Her father, a prominent Florida lobbyist concerned with his public persona, made one thing very clear to her: What happened inside the Book household must stay private by any means necessary.


"He said, 'We don't talk about things that happen in this house,'" Book told NPR in 2012. "That stuck with me always."

That message, Book says, also made her vulnerable to abuse. When Book's nanny — a woman she called Waldy — began to touch her inappropriately when she was 12 years old, Book felt like she had no one to turn to.

"You feel invisible," Book says, "because if anybody actually saw you they wouldn’t allow the things that were happening to you to happen."

The abuse continued for years.

Even after Book told her father about it and her nanny was arrested, the pain that Waldy visited upon her continued to take a physical toll.

Because of how Waldy had manipulated her, Book was wracked with guilt over sending "the one person who loved her" to prison. As a result, she started engaging in self-mutilation and eventually developed anorexia.

It took years for Book to heal and recognize that what had happened to her wasn't her fault.

One essential part of Book's healing was that she help other vulnerable children. She vowed to never let what happened to her happen to another child.

In 2007, she launched Lauren's Kids. The non-profit is predicated upon the evidence-based idea that more than 90 percent of childhood sexual abuse can be prevented with education.

The organization teaches both children and their families about childhood sexual abuse through classroom education and awareness campaigns. It also promotes and supports healing.

"We talk about how important it is to identify behaviors that are unsafe, icky and not quite right with anyone," says Book. "When we started the foundation, it was more geared towards sexual abuse, but really it’s any trauma and how to access help."

In 2013, Book was named a L'Oreal Paris Woman Of Worth for her work with Lauren's Kids. The honor, which as been given to 10 American women yearly since 2007, celebrates those women whose fierce passion for social justice and problem-solving has led to major change in their community.

The award wasn't a culmination of Book's achievements — it was a catalyst that fueled her to take even more action. "Being recognized by L’Oreal Paris as a Woman of Worth really put me on a trajectory to continue to use my voice in a different way, advocating far beyond the things that I ever thought I would," she says.

"Worth to me now represents spirit," she says, "Every single individual has worth and spirit and a driving force. You may not know it or be able to find it yet, but we all have it."

Today, Book is a Florida state senator. She‘s also a mother. Protecting children is her top priority.

That promise extends to every child in Florida.

"On both Kennedy and Hudson’s walls, I have a little saying that is 'Raise hell and change the world,' says Book. "I want my kids to not fall to the childhood I did. I want them, when they see an injustice, to attack it."

What happened to Book shouldn't happen to anyone — and she's making sure of that. Her ability to turn a horrifying experience into motivation for lasting community change, however, is a lasting reminder of the power that one person has to make a life-altering difference for so many others.

To learn more about Book's journey and her work, check out the video below.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

via Gage Skidmore/Flickr and Terry Morgan/Flickr

Senator Ted Cruz and a kangaroo.

Conservative media in the United States has painted Australia as a state on the brink of authoritarianism due to strict COVID-19 protections in some parts of the country. These news outlets appear to be using the country as an example of what can happen in America if liberal politicians go unchecked.

Fox News' Tucker Carlson ran a story on Australia earlier this month claiming the country "looks a lot like China did at the beginning of the pandemic." He ended it by saying that "what's happening in Australia might be instructive to us in the United States" and that things can "change very quickly" and become "dystopian and autocratic."

Carlson provides zero reasons why Americans should be fearful of becoming an autocratic country due to COVID-19, beyond the idea that "things can change very quickly" so his appeals sound a lot more like fear-mongering than genuine concern.

Keep Reading Show less