Rep. Nash shares emotional story of surviving child abuse, taking action to save kids

A number of mandatory reporters failed Nash growing up, he said. One of those was his mother, a director of nursing at the hospital where Nash was often admitted.

Rep. Jim Nash with his family. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

A representative who suffered years of abuse as a child is working to give hope to children and adults currently experiencing the same thing.

Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, is the author of HF 4793, a bill that would make it so that anyone who prevents or attempts to prevent a mandatory reporter from reporting abuse is guilty of a misdemeanor.

“For the better part of 17 years of my life, my dad beat me on a regular occasion for inexplicable reasons,” Nash said.

He was beaten with a baseball bat, an ax handle, a broom handle — to the point of broken ribs and multiple hospital visits. But, he said, his parents would always “explain it away as ‘Jim fell.’”

Once, his dad kicked him out on the street after pushing him through a wall, abandoning him in a bad neighborhood for hours. Nash finally got a hold of his pastor, who picked him up and brought him home — and Nash’s dad was there at home, while his son had been wandering the streets lost.

A number of mandatory reporters failed Nash growing up, he said. One of those was his mother, a director of nursing at the hospital where Nash was often admitted.

“She would find a way to creatively sweep the whole thing under the rug,” Nash said.

On the House floor March 19, Nash shared his emotional testimony. In just the past few years, he asked his mom why she didn’t save him. Her answer: “Well, I just figured you could take it.”

“That’s about the worst answer you could ever get from your mom, who is tasked with saving you from whatever … I would literally put myself between my kids and harm. And my mom did nothing,” he said.

Rep. Jim Nash discusses his bill on the House floor March 19. (Minnesota House Info)

Later in life, Nash found out that his two sisters and two stepsisters were also beaten badly by his father. In each case, people tried to make reports, without success.

Nash said he never wants to see his father again. “That’s a big statement, that’s a lot to say,” he said.

But he is grateful to those mandatory reporters who tried to save him, one being a favorite teacher whose report was dismissed by a principal.

Nash told Collin that he barely sleeps at night now due to the trauma he experienced as a child.

“I can’t sit by idly anymore,” he said. “This was an opportunity that I chose not to pass up, and I forced myself to talk about it, and it’s been transformational on many levels.”

He’s had several people reach out to him with similar stories of reporters who were ignored by people in positions of authority.

“[Abuse] creates a lifelong sense of confusion, it creates lifelong pain,” Nash said. His goal with this bill is to “to make it more difficult to sweep these things under the rug.”

“I’m committed for however long I’m here at the House of Representatives to use my position and to use my voice,” he said, even though it’s an emotional task and a huge undertaking.

“It’s hard, it’s really hard, and it takes you to a place that you don’t really want to visit very often,” he said.

This is the type of bill “where a bipartisan thing actually is possible,” Nash said.

He’s been working with Public Safety Chair Rep. Kelly Moller, D-Shoreview, on the bill.

“We came together on this because there’s a lot of people up here who are impacted by this … either in their family or in their district, there’s people whose lives have been shattered by this.”

Nash also mentioned the surprise he is greeted with when he tells people he has broken the cycle of abuse in his family.

“We need to encourage others to [break the cycle] and find ways to do so, and if the law can be changed to discourage people from avoiding their responsibility, that’s great,” he explained.

“I want to be an example to people that you don’t have to be what others would put you on the track of being.”


Rose Williams

Rose Williams is an assistant editor for Alpha News.