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CRUSADER AGAINST CHILD ABUSE SLOWED BY ILLNESS.

Byline: Bob Welch The Register-Guard

Editor's Note: "Where Are They Now?" is a Monday column that updates readers on local newsmakers from the past. Have ideas? E-mail Welch at bob.welch@registerguard.com or call him at 338-2354.

THEN: In 1992, Paul McLaughlin was featured in a Register-Guard story by Eric Mortenson. (See efn.org./scan/abused00.htm.)

McLaughlin, aka "The Child Abuse Man," would stand on street corners with "Stop Child Abuse" signs. Mortenson learned why: McLaughlin had been terribly abused as a child by his mother. In stories substantiated by relatives and doctors, McLaughlin was burned, awakened in the middle of the night and made to stand in a corner for up to eight hours. Once, his mother split his head open with her spiked heel. Other times, she stripped him and beat him with a stick.

NOW: Paul, 59, still lives in a south Eugene condominium with his wife, Elizabeth, and has spent the past few years adjusting to multiple sclerosis.

In the years after the Register-Guard story, McLaughlin deepened a one-man crusade to confront child abuse. To help raise money for the cause, he spoke around the country. He was on TV and radio. He stood on street corners with his sign.

"The article gave me a visibility I hadn't had," he says. And credibility.

Suddenly, people not only believed McLaughlin, but wanted him to speak or be interviewed.

But the multiple sclerosis, starting in 2000, has put an end to most of that.

Now, he does most of his anti-child abuse campaigning on a laptop computer.

In recent years, he's had to relearn to walk and talk and remember things. And yet, despite it all, he has also found a certain peace.

"I'm not as angry as I was," he says. "The illness has calmed me down. I'm less stressed out."

What he's proudest of? "I did not repeat the same behavior of my mother."

She is still alive, living where Paul grew up, in Pennsylvania.

For more information on Stop Child Abuse Now, see http://www.efn.org/scan/scan.html.
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Title Annotation:City/Region Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Dec 17, 2007
Words:347
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