It is a trauma no family should have to go through, but the Miller family seems stronger than ever after convicted pedophile Peter Whitmore ripped through their hearts.
In the summer of 2006, Whitmore kidnapped and sexually assaulted 10-year-old Zachary Miller.
Now 20, Zachary has begun to tell his story in the hopes of preventing the abuse of other children.
“I have a voice and I am tired of sitting here watching this happen to children time after time after time.”
But Zachary admits finding the strength to get here was not easy.
“Our road of recovery was not an easy one. It never is with something like this. Our family broke and hit rock bottom.”
It is a sentiment echoed by his father, Lyle Miller. To see Zachary find his voice is something Lyle never thought he would see.
“The road to recovery is a long one. It is a journey. For Zach, it is everyday. For his mom, it is everyday. There is not a day that goes by,” Lyle said by phone. “You can’t get in our driveway without getting a good second look.”
Lyle says he and his wife carried guilt that they had let Whitmore into their lives – not knowing who he was – leading to the tragic events that summer.
Lyle maintains they have been able to overcome those emotions with the help of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
“They show you how many other cases there are. When this is going on, you are not exactly alone; there (are) other people going through it.”
Lyle is hoping changes will be made to ensure the safety of children.
“Take an example – just even your car, car seats – we are always protecting our children, right? We spend more money and time doing that than we do for protecting them from known pedophiles.”
Lyle doesn’t think Canada’s justice system does enough to protect children.
Zachary wants no other families do go through the journey he and his family have gone through.
“I learned not to blame myself for what happened, but I am here to ensure this doesn’t keep happening.”