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Irene van der Zande

When her family was young Irene van der Zande protected a group of little children, including her two, from a man who had been threatening to kidnap them. She stopped him yelling and from ordering a bystander. The children were fine. What they saw was that Irene yelled, and the bad guy ran away - but Irene wasn't fine. She kept wondering, "What should he had knocked me down?" "What other children did he go on to assault?" "How will my kids be able to protect themselves when they go out into the world by themselves?"

She even took a self-defense workshop to answer the very first question. However she kept meeting people who would tell her stories which began with the words "If only. ." "In the event ONLY, if my childhood group leader dropped all the children off except for me and started to touch me in a manner that my parents had told me to not let somebody touch me, if ONLY I had known how to prevent him. I'd understood how to tell my parents what happened, if ONLY. My life would have been so much simpler."

Prior to this encounter, Irene's career was as a neighborhood organizer who helped develop services for many nonprofits working with individuals of all ages facing challenging life challenges because of poverty, prejudice, and disabilities. She'd also just written a book called "1,2, 3... The Toddler Years", that is employed in early childhood education programs across the US and has been translated into Chinese and Dutch.

Irene's strategy was supposed to go on writing on child growth, however, as she looked in the 15 women in her Girl Scout troop, Irene thought concerning the rape crisis centre statistic of 1 in 3 women being sexually assaulted before they were 18 years old, and she thought to herself, "That is FIVE of these! Which five women is it okay with me this happens to?" The answer of course, was, "N

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