AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) – Child marriage may seem like a third-world problem, but the issue is very much prevalent in the U.S.
In Texas, over 41,000 minors were reportedly married to adult men between the years 2000 to 2017. Among those, 96 percent are girls married to adult men.
In 1985, Dawn Tyree became one of those girls.
Her dad and step-mom moved from California to Amarillo, but given they had already paid for tuition, decided she should finish the school year there.
At that time, Dawn says she was already being molested by the family friend, who was now deemed her caretaker after her parents moved.
“The sexual abuse continued. There were times that I could vividly remember calling my step-mother in Amarillo, Texas and saying ‘I really want to move down there’ you know I’m totally crying to my parents saying ‘I want out of this house, I don’t want to be here anymore’, but it was looked at as attention-seeking,” said Dawn Tyree, survivor of child marriage and activist.
She finished her school year there and thought at least now the nightmare was finally over.
Except, it was just the beginning, as he decided to move to Amarillo too.
By the time she was 13, she became pregnant.
When her parents found out, instead of calling the police, they decided getting married was the best option.
She says her gut feeling told her it wasn’t, but at that age, she didn’t know any better but to trust the adults in her life.
“It was really scary after the marriage took place. I mean I was terrified during the marriage, which was like a business transaction. It was over in a flash and I realized that I was never going to be going back to school. I mean that it was over,” said Tyree.
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