Once upon a time there was a man who walked 10,000 miles across Europe because he decided that children should be raised in an environment free from Sexual Abuse.
You see when he was a little boy, his uncle sexually molested him. In fact, his uncle not only abused Matty, but several of his brothers. You wouldn’t know it by just looking at this man – he was a teacher and he was always nice to his nephews. He gave them lots of gifts and always wanted to spend time with them. No one ever thought he was a child molester. But he was. He was a master of deception and manipulation. The community never suspected that these little boys were being sexually molested. For years……..
At the age of 13, Matty gathered all of his courage and said “no” to his uncle. He knew he needed to get away and had even thought about jumping out of the 2nd story window, but instead he ran to the front door and escaped. He ran and he ran, all the way home. But Matty never told anyone – not even his mom or his dad. Not for a very long time.
When he was around 17, he was very depressed and angry. Then he started noticing that several of his brothers were also acting strange and lost and sad. Matty once again gathered up all of his courage and he finally told his parents. How shocked they were! Of course they believed Matty, but they weren’t sure how to handle this information. They were afraid too, and they decided it might be best to not tell anyone. Everyone was sad and afraid.
Slowly, as Matty began to realize the devastation that was occurring in his family, not only inside of him, inside of his brothers, and inside of his whole family, he took a stand. He decided that no adult should be allowed to abuse any more children.
The family gathered together and knew it was time to start healing and to let the police know about all of the bad things that this man had done to the children. So this amazing family joined together in their love for one another and called upon all of their strength and filed charges against this uncle.
Luckily, in Scotland, there is no Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse. All of the brothers were interviewed separately and it was obvious to the police that a crime had been committed against these children, and they sentenced the uncle to 6 years in prison.
Matty and his brothers are still healing, but now they know that what happened to them was NEVER their fault, and they know that any shame, guilt or stigma was never their’s to carry. It lay solely on their uncle. These brothers, this Band of Brothers, courageously found their voice and spoke their truth. Healing from sexual abuse as a child is a lifelong journey.
During this time, Matty wrote a play called “TO KILL A KELPIE”. (A Kelpie is a mythical monster in Scotland who lives in the water and eats wee little innocent children). Matty’s play was made into a movie. He began realizing that he was not alone, thanks to the Moria Anderson Foundation’s support for families who find themselves in this nightmare. Matty was understanding that there were children everywhere who were still being molested, by family members and by people who were trusted friends. So Matty decided to do something more brave than anything he had ever done in his life.
He decided he would walk to every European Nation’s capital, and along the way he would share his story, share his movie, talk to people and help raise awareness of what he now realized was a SILENT EPIDEMIC OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE of global proportions.
Everyone thought he was crazy. And maybe he was, just a little! But nonetheless, Matty was going to walk 10,000 MILES across Europe and reach as many people as he could. He also decided he would talk to every government in each country about the Statute of Limitations, because not all countries are like Scotland.
Now you might ask, who in their right mind walks 10,000 miles to share the message of hope and awareness? I can answer that questions for you because I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing man. After reading about his journey on Facebook, I contacted him. I knew that SOMEDAY – SOMEHOW – I was going to walk with him. I had to let him know he was not alone. I needed to show my support for his courage. You see, I was also molested as a child.
And so, I asked a filmmaker friend, Cody Adams, to fly with me to Slovenia to document the journey that I was about to embark upon. I was going to walk with Matty for 5 days from Slovenia to Croatia.
This is Matty and Stigo meeting us at the airport in Slovenia. Stigo drove the old rag-tag van called Yvonne, and he would drive ahead and be a ‘home base’ as Matty walked. It was also their home for almost 2 years.
Matty and I walked for 5 days, about 30 kilometers a day and we talked, and we talked, and we talked even more. My life changed forever.
When the time came for me to come back to America, I was so sad because I knew Matty still had over 5,000 miles left to walk and his journey would not end until the first week of February, 2015.
Slowly but surely, Matty began to receive a lot of international media attention. People started to notice. The hard conversations were beginning about child sexual abuse. People started to talk about this man from Scotland who was walking in a kilt across Europe. The momentum was beginning to take hold.
After I left, I knew Matty still a long journey ahead of him. But along the way, as word started to spread, he had an audience with the Pope. He spoke to the United Nations about child sexual abuse, and he continues to touch millions of people thanks to social media and his absolute dedication to creating awareness.
And as he ended his epic journey, I flew to Scotland the first week of February, 2015, to be apart of this extraordinary man’s remarkable accomplishments. It was a week long celebration like none I had ever witnessed! There were magical moments every where I turned. Matty was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Conservatoire where he got his Masters degree.
He returned home to his family a different man. A stronger man. A hero.
He spoke to the Scottish Parliament and met the First Minister of Scotland.
It had taken him almost 2 years to complete this journey, one where he had no sponsors, very little money, but the dedication of a warrior. On the last day, Matty led a parade with over 1,000 people from around the world joining together to walk with him on this his LAST MILE.
Matty Raphael McVarish’s journey started on May 31, 2013 in London and now, on February 7, 2015, he had done what many people considered impossible. Matty walked to every EU capital, spoke to thousands and thousands of people.
Just one man with a purpose – a determination that no child will ever have to experience being sexually abused.
Over 150 MILLION adults in America and Europe have been sexually molested as children. Very few ever talk about it. Many are still carrying shame and guilt – that was NEVER their burden to carry.
And so, every day when a person speaks their truth, learns the facts, begins the conversation – they are setting the stage for future generations who will be raised in a world where sexual abuse of children never happens.
Together we can prevent the sexual abuse of children.