Alumni Spotlight: Patrice Griffin
NYSCAS Alum Shares How Her Past as an Abuse Survivor Led to Her New Book to Protect Children from Abuse
It’s a sad but true fact that there are more than 50,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in New York City annually. To reduce this growing number, it’s vital to be aware of warning signs to look for to protect these vulnerable children. That is where New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) alumna Patrice Griffin comes in. Griffin is working hard to advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse through her nonprofit, Patrice’s Kids Inc. We recently spoke with her about her new book, The Unconscious Community, and why her past fuels this important work.
You recently published your first book The Unconscious Community and shortly after being unveiled, it debuted as the most popular new release in the rap music category on Amazon! Can you tell us more about it?
For years, I’ve been wanting to write a book about the abuse I suffered as a child to better educate the public on ways to prevent abuse and give survivors some hope, but I kept putting it off. Right before COVID-19 hit, I began writing for two hours a day. Once we were on lockdown due to the pandemic, I had more free time, so I ended up finishing the book in only five months. It then took about four months of editing before The Unconscious Community was released on my birthday, September 18, 2020. It tells the story about what it was like for me to be a 14-year-old girl who endured the horrors of child sexual abuse. On a path filled with every horror imaginable, there were still angels along the way, and I was able to regain control of my life with their help. Now, I dedicate my time to ensuring the hidden world of pedophiles is no longer safe. A month after my book came out, it became Amazon’s most popular new release in the rap music category on Amazon! I was shocked and surprised but am extremely proud of the final product.
How are you helping educate adults on the prevention of child sex abuse? Why are you so passionate about this topic?
While ending all types of abuse faced by children is my ultimate goal, I saw an immediate need to help adults increase their awareness about the symptoms abused children typically exhibit, such as having nightmares, regressing to a younger age through something like bedwetting, outbursts of anger, not wanting to be around a certain individual, mood swings, and unexplained bruising or soreness around the genital areas. After speaking with several parents, I kept hearing the same thing -- they had no idea when it’s the “right time” to have conversations on body safety, setting boundaries, and learning when to say no to their kids. This prompted me to partner with trained professionals in the mental health field and together, we created a series of trainings to educate people on how to protect children from abuse and signs to look for if they think abuse may be happening. My passion is fueled by knowing exactly how it feels to be abused and having no one to protect me, and I want to give children a voice to end this vicious cycle.
How else do you serve as an advocate for children who have suffered abuse?
In the past, I’ve advocated alongside Gary Greenberg who is a survivor, advocate, and politician. Together, with a group of fellow abuse survivors, we fought for The Child Victims Act to pass in New York. This law allows child victims to seek prosecution against their abusers until the age of 55 in civil cases and they’re given a one-year window to pursue justice. Also, the statute of limitations increased from 23 years to 28 years. The bill was passed in January 2019 and Governor Cuomo signed it into law on Valentine’s Day. That day will always be remembered as a huge win for abuse survivors living in the Big Apple.
You graduated from Touro's NYSCAS in 2014. What has your career path looked like since then?
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I was employed at the Brooklyn Veterans Hospital, where I worked for several years in the engineering department. I also was the Chief Shop Steward for The American Federation of Government employees, serving as a facilitator and mediator between management and union members, until I relocated to Texas and started my nonprofit Patrice’s Kids Inc. Our mission is to increase awareness to end child sexual abuse.
Why did you choose NYSCAS for your undergrad degree?
I chose NYSCAS because it offered smaller class sizes than other colleges in the area. I wanted to enroll in a school that gave me access to a tight-knit community, where my professors and I could develop a relationship as I knew that this would be the most beneficial type of learning environment for me. Due to smaller class sizes, I was able to get the help I needed from my very supportive and patient professors, and the experience has been unforgettable.
What skills did you learn at Touro that are helping you in this vital work?
Touro taught me to communicate effectively through conveying facts in a clear and concise manner, how to use constructive criticism to open my eyes to different ideas and ways of doing things, the importance of thinking outside of the box, and how to easily motivate myself to stay committed to completing whatever the task at hand might be. Additionally, I learned that a good leader is not someone who solely delegates tasks, instead it’s also about being a team player who exhibits empathy and possesses self-awareness and integrity.