Sexual abuse survivor from Hamilton to host rally for child vict - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Sexual abuse survivor from Hamilton to host rally for child victims

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Tara Walker Lyons, 28, is a survivor of sexual abuse. (MTN News) Tara Walker Lyons, 28, is a survivor of sexual abuse. (MTN News)

The day a Valley County judge sentenced a Glasgow child rapist to probation, Tara Walker Lyon’s phone was flooded with messages.

“Once the news hit, all these people, probably 25 messages came into my phone saying 'Tara, have you seen this?'” said Walker Lyons. “Obviously, it shook me to the core.”

She wasn't just outraged like the 250,000 people who have signed a petition, calling for the impeachment of sentencing Judge John McKeon.

For Walker, it was a horror story she knew too all well, "when I was a child, my stepfather was a sexual predator who targeted me and abused me for six years,” said Walker Lyons.

More than two decades ago, when she lived in small town Augusta, Walker Lyons said her abuser crept into her bedroom at night and sexually abused her.

"Eventually, I went to the police myself,” said Walker Lyons. “I ran through an alley way in the town that I'm from and went and knocked on the sheriff's back door of his house and turned my step-dad in."

But she said her stepfather never served a day in prison for the crimes. Walker Lyons said her abuser wasn't even required to register as a sex offender, though he did have to complete sex offender treatment.

Maybe even worse, Walker Lyons said her mother is still with her abuser today, "she knows exactly what happened, but she chooses to stay with him,” said Walker Lyons.

She felt alone for years and turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort, "I’ve been arrested," she said. "I’ve struggled."

It wasn't until she completed addiction treatment that she realized she was worth so much more, "I realized just how bad things were and decided to try and refocus that and channel it into something productive," said Walker Lyons.

She made a video where she looked into a camera and explained the abuse she suffered. Walker Lyons posted the video online for the whole world to see and hear.

"In the very beginning, I couldn't stay in the room when my videos would play,” said Walker Lyons. “I couldn't stand with confidence."

While her voice may still shake today, Walker Lyons is confident her words will give others the strength they need to speak up.

"I was a victim a year ago, I was a victim when I started and now I'm a survivor, because I took the worst thing that could happen to me and I'm making it a positive."

Walker Lyons is hosting a rally in Billings on Saturday to bring people together and spread awareness about the issue of sexual abuse against children. She said the goal is to use people’s outrage to spur change and support victims. The rally takes place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Yellowstone County Courthouse.

Everyone is welcome to attend.

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