Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is sharing his personal story of the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Maria Trusa, founder of the nonprofit Yo Digo No Más ("I Say No More" in Spanish), interviewed Spano about his experience for her talk show. The episode will air on YouTube on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
“This is an important conversation," Spano said in a statement. "The more people who hear these survival stories, the more it will help break the stigma associated with sexual assault and abuse."
Trusa did not want to share details of Spano's story, saying they will come out in the interview.
"He was very vulnerable," Trusa said of Spano. She said he opened up about how his family wouldn't talk about it after it happened.
"It was the dirty little secret no one ever wanted to talk about," Spano said in a clip from the interview that Yo Digo No Más shared with The Journal News/lohud.
That is a common experience with sexual abuse, Trusa said: "People don't talk about it. There's so much shame."
Spano has referred to himself before as a victim of abuse. At a march Yo Digo No Más organized in Yonkers in March, Spano said he was a survivor of sexual abuse as a child when he addressed those in attendance, Trusa said.
He also did so back in the early 1990s when, as a member of the state Assembly, he advocated for passage of Megan's Law. The law, which went into effect in 1996, established requirements for sex offenders to register in New York.
"I will continue to raise awareness to encourage others to be strong," Spano said. "These stories matter.”
Trusa founded Yo Digo No Más in 2020 to raise awareness of sexual abuse and violence, particularly to children. The nonprofit is working with Yonkers Public Schools to roll out a curriculum for eighth-grade students this year about the different kinds of sexual abuse, who can be a predator and what to do if they experience abuse. It will also include educating parents on seeing the signs of sexual abuse.
Trusa endured her own abuse as a child and has channeled her experience into her advocacy work.
She is also working on a book, "A Brave Space," for kids and parents to educate them on sexual abuse with the goal of prevention.
Contact Diana Dombrowski at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @domdomdiana
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano shares story of sexual abuse in interview