Media & TV
My first media experiences
My first TV appearance was as a 6-year old 2nd grade student, where I appeared on Art Linkletter's Kids Say the Darndest Things. I was so animated and articulate, that Mr. Linkletter asked me "If I was for real." I thought a lot about his comments over the years. And being real and authentic is the foundation of who and what I am.
My second TV appearance was a live interview on the Home Show with Gary Collins. I was on the show to tell my story. It was one of the first times that the word "incest" was talked about on national television. The interview aired around the United States and I was more than a little nervous heading into it!
After I answered Gary's questions, they brought on a Psychiatrist to talk about incest and to share his expertise. The Psychiatrist looked straight into the camera, and said that incest happens to only one-in-one million girls in the United States and to only one-in-three million Jewish girls. I was crushed. Now I believed, that not only did my parents abandon me, but so did God. If God picked me out of three million women to suffer sexual assault, he must hate me. I was spiritually devastated.
The true statistics are equally devastating. Today, it is a well-researched fact that sexual abuse occurs to one-in-three girls in America and one-in-five boys. In Canada, where there are better reporting laws, the statistics are shocking. Sexual abuse occurs to one-in-two girls in Canada and one-in-three boys.
After the Home Show aired, I received calls and letters from people all across the United States saying the story helped them in significant ways. Survivors were inspired to break their silence and come forward. The appearance also gave me the opportunity to begin my passion of motivational speaking - where I can work to help people achieve things they never dreamt possible and where I can let them know they are not alone!
TV Movie About My Life
Shattered Trust: The Shari Karney Story
While I was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee of the California Legislature, and lobbying to get legislation passed to help survivors of sexual abuse, my story appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The article created a media buzz that lead to Hollywood producers, all calling wanting to do my story for a movie. One of the calls was from Robert Wagner who had a production deal at Columbia pictures. R.J. invited me to Columbia Studios in Burbank to take a meeting. That night I flew back home from Sacramento. I met with R.J. and his production team. Soon thereafter, R.J. invited me to have dinner with him at his favorite Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. For the first time in my life, I felt like a fairy princess and he was Prince Charming. He was the most elegant, attentive and charming man I have ever met. He helped heal the hurt by the care and respect that he gave me. He gives me hope that I could help others heal and achieve their life's purpose as well.
For a variety of reasons, the movie wasn't done at Columbia Pictures as a feature film, but was done instead, as a television movie at NBC. The team at NBC was amazing. I was well treated and included in every process of the writing, making, and airing of the film. I was given the opportunity to Co-Executive Produce the movie, which was indeed an honor. For legal reasons, a few family characters had to be left out and a few other people in my life combined into other characters. But everything else was spot-on to what happened. My mother's character in the movie, played by Shirley Douglas (Kiefer Sutherland's mother in real life) had to be toned down. My mother in fact, was so much more violent and abusive than we were able to show in the movie. So much so, that when I saw the movie Mommie Dearest, (Christina Crawford's victimization by her mother Joan Crawford), I didn't think Joan Crawford's behavior was very abusive. I couldn't at first, understand why her daughter Christina was complaining about getting beat only by a hanger! That's how skewed my ideas of good mothering were.
Having a movie done about your life is like a near death experience, where everything flashes before your eyes before you die. Melissa Gilbert, who played me in the movie, is an angel. Good hearted, warm, smart, I simply love her. She did my story justice and me. She could have put up a fuss, and kicked me off the set. Instead, she embraced me and the role, with all of her heart. After a particularly important scene, she would ask me during takes, if it was okay, did I have any suggestions, what was I feeling when the event actually occurred. A real professional in every way. Melissa and I are still friends today. I was the second person she called when she went into labor with her second child. Even today, when she calls me she always says, "Hi, this is the other Shari Karney." Sharing this experience will always connect us. She got the chance to live inside of me for a while; she did it with grace and gentleness. Sometimes I envied that she got to jump out of me and be herself, while I was stuck being me. I am still learning that being me is okay.
After the movie aired, I was honored to represent the millions of sexual abuse survivors around the world, many of whom accomplished far more through conquering their adversity than I could ever hope to.
Prey No Longer due out, January, 2012
In 2000, after my father passed away, I started writing while maintaining a full teaching load, running Barwinners, and preparing and appearing on Power of Attorney, for Fox Television. At first it felt like a never-ending term paper. I would stay up all night, and sometime write 2,000 words and at other times, I could barely elk out 200 words. I got stuck in trying to please others and not writing from my truth and my heart. I have decided to self publish Prey No Longer because I want to be able to deliver this message to sexual abuse and trauma survivors, without anyone stepping on it. I want this book to give survivors a voice. I want trauma survivors everywhere to know that they can take action. Even if survivors decide they don't want to take the next step, it's important to be empowered by the knowledge that you can. It's taken me until now to complete this book, but all the hard work ended up paying off in a very powerful way. Surviving sexual abuse had certainly changed my life forever. I endeavor to inspire and motivate audiences in the U.S. and around the world!