There are so many abuse survivors and advocates around the world who have turned their darkest moments into their brightest light, shining the way for others. Children and adults alike are changing the world through their dedication to spreading awareness and promoting healing for survivors. Our “Advocacy in Action” series features people who have been inspired by Lauren’s Kids and impacted by Lauren’s advocacy, and have carried the spark she lit forward into their own lives and communities. We hope you enjoy reading their stories…
Advocacy in Action: Fighting For Justice
In 2002, young Lauren Book sat in a Broward County courtroom and revealed the horrors she endured at the hands of her live-in nanny for the past six years of her childhood. She took heart knowing her lawyer, Michael Dolce, not only believed her, but understood her plight all too well.
When Michael was seven years old, he, too, was a victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of someone he knew and trusted: his neighbor, a man his family thought they could trust to watch over Michael.
After years of healing, Michael turned his pain into power. Because the statute of limitations on his abuse had run out after Michael disclosed in his late 20s, he became an advocate for victims of sexual violence. He continues to work to help other survivors bring their abusers to justice – something he was never able to do.
In 2010 during Lauren’s inaugural Walk in My Shoes walk across Florida, Michael stood up for survivors as he walked alongside Lauren and her lawyer/lobbyist father, Ron Book. Together they advocated for the passage of a law to effectively end the three-year statute of limitations on sex crimes committed against minors, allowing victims like himself to bring their abusers to justice years after the abuse occurred.
“There is no statute of limitations, no set time limit on the suffering of a victim of sexual abuse,” says Michael. “There should not be a time limit set on their ability to seek justice and get closure.”
Following the Walk, Lauren and Michael applauded lawmakers and state leaders as Gov. Charlie Christ signed HB 525 into law, officially eliminating the statute of limitations on sex crimes committed on victims between the ages of 12 and 16 in Florida.
Today, Michael represents sex abuse survivors throughout Florida from his Ft. Lauderdale law office, bringing perpetrators and those who protect them to justice, and helping survivors heal.