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Social Impact Heroes: How Elizabeth Peace is protecting children across the country from abuse

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone privately asking if they can talk about being a survivor of child abuse and most of the time they’ve never told anyone, and therefore usually haven’t been able to find healing. But I also hear most from moms who just found out their child […]


Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone privately asking if they can talk about being a survivor of child abuse and most of the time they’ve never told anyone, and therefore usually haven’t been able to find healing. But I also hear most from moms who just found out their child was one of the 1 in 10 children who have been or will be abused. It’s devastating to hear these stories but I’m so grateful they know they have someone to come talk to. I give them advice on what to do next and why it’s ALWAYS the right thing to do to allow police to do their jobs and investigate the case, rather than trying to be investigators themselves.


As part of my series about people and organizations making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Peace. Elizabeth is a former journalist, author and TV news anchor. After working on Capitol Hill as a communications director and speechwriter for Congress, she accepted the opportunity to work with the Department of Defense* as the director of the Public and Congressional Affairs Office. She hosts a weekly podcast and Christian blog for LDS moms. Throughout the year, she travels to speak on behalf of survivors of assault and child abuse. She is a trained facilitator for Darkness to Light, teaching the Stewards of Children child abuse prevention program and works with the organization on federal legislation to protect children. Seeing a gap for military families and being personally affected by child abuse, she and her husband launched Operation Innocence. Elizabeth is the founder of St. George News, the largest news and media organization in southern Utah, volunteers as a judge for the Society of Professional Journalists annual Media in Excellence awards, and teaches broadcast journalism and public relations courses in the DC area. She is a faculty member for the Leadership Institute and teaches on-camera, journalism and public affairs courses. An avid volunteer, she has served on the board of directors for the Washington City Chamber of Commerce and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). She was dance captain of the Chaparrals, a volunteer for domestic violence victims and volunteered to mentor at-risk youth. A former Air Force Security Forces Officer, Elizabeth met her husband, Warren Peace, while working as a morning news anchor. Her husband is a U.S. Marine currently serving on active duty for more than a decade. They have two children and adopted a Presa Canary they named Bradley.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to start on your career path?

Like probably all parents, I thought I was doing enough to protect my children from predators and found out the hard way that most parents don’t really have an idea of how to do that. As a survivor of child abuse, I’ve always been passionate about this issue but now as a mom to survivors, that devastation propelled me to a new level of advocacy.

Did you set out to start a movement? If so, what was your vision? If not, what did you imagine would be the impact of your work?

No, my goal initially was just to answer the question “what could I have done?” But as we went through the healing and legal process, I discovered that there was very little in the way of education, resources and even justice for children who are victims on a local, state and federal level. The police said they couldn’t do anything and it wasn’t until Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) called the Utah Attorney General’s office that they even agreed to investigate. Utah is a mandatory reporter state which means all adults must report abuse but it’s rarely if ever enforced. Three adults, including my ex-husband whose home the abuse took place in and who was Army at the time, knew about the abuse and did nothing. I started looking into it more as a journalist and realized how many perpetrators were being let out off the hook with probation or 60-days in a low treatment facility with no prison time. It was appalling.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

I began partnering with Darkness to Light, a global non-profit based in the U.S., that offers evidenced-based child abuse prevention training for adults, and partners with other organizations for age-appropriate education for children. I’m part of their volunteer legislative team and they’re making strides in getting legislation passed on a state-by-state level but I still saw a gap in the military where at my most recent base (I’m a military employee and my husband is active duty) all cases of a certain type of child abuse were shelved with no investigation even when someone confessed. So we created Operation Innocence to help military families take prevention classes and learn to protect their children. We’re now working to bring these classes to all military installations worldwide and hopefully help pass federal legislation making it mandatory for all active duty service members.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone privately asking if they can talk about being a survivor of child abuse and most of the time they’ve never told anyone, and therefore usually haven’t been able to find healing. But I also hear most from moms who just found out their child was one of the 1 in 10 children who have been or will be abused. It’s devastating to hear these stories but I’m so grateful they know they have someone to come talk to. I give them advice on what to do next and why it’s ALWAYS the right thing to do to allow police to do their jobs and investigate the case, rather than trying to be investigators themselves.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Being willing to do the hard work and lead by example. It would be much easier if we spent our weekends relaxing, but instead you’ll often find us volunteering, talking about this topic or sitting on a panel sharing our experience. But I’ve most definitely learned that there are few people even comfortable talking about this topic even though it’s the greatest health risk to children today. If I’m not willing to do it, who will?

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

It’s going to upset your family and you have to know ahead of time if you’re willing to keep going (and friends and strangers etc). My parents didn’t know about my abuse until I was 18 but I didn’t start publicly talking about it until I was in my thirties. Those first few years were really uncomfortable for my family who are very private people. The cool thing though is how much my family has become involved in just the last year. Not only was it worth it for me, I feel like it helped them open up about things they’ve been through, too.

You will grow and evolve over time but you don’t have to do everything at once. I have a hundred ideas about what I want to do next but I have to remember that I also have a job, a family and need to take some down time for my own sanity and mental health.

You will want to give up and usually that means a breakthrough is right around the corner. There have been many times I’ve felt stuck or frustrated in the last seven years. Sometimes it’s that a politician won’t take my calls or emails, or that we are so close to seeing federal legislation passed and then it doesn’t. But then there will often be a big media push and outrage from the community and then you’ll see something amazing happen — like the military now looking into mandatory training on child abuse.

When you care about a passionate topic, prepare to have your heart broken often. Every time I talk to a parent whose child has gone through this, I wonder if this will be the last time I can bare to hear these stories. But if someone had told me this before it happened to my kids, then maybe it wouldn’t have happened to my children at all.

You will often question whether you are good enough to accomplish the things you want to accomplish. That is just your inner voice, or past or present people from your life, telling you that you aren’t good enough. But we all are. Anyone can launch a non profit. Anyone can create a social movement. Anyone can have the courage to visit their elected leaders and work on federal legislation.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The children who need the most love will often ask for it in the most unloving ways.

I was once that child and I have learned that 1. Never judge someone for we don’t know what they have been asked to walk through and 2. At some point you must learn to overcome and adapt and take responsibility for your own life. What someone else did to you does not have to take away your future.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our website is OperationInnocence.org and TW/OpInnocenceDC and I currently use FB/MrsAtlanticStates and IG/MrsAtlanticStatesIntl which is a vehicle I use to get the word out about my platform work.

Your work is making a massive positive impact on the planet, thank you so much!

*The DoD is not responsible for any of the comments or posts made on this website. All posts, comments and thoughts belong solely to the author.

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