Dawn Schiller was fifteen years old in 1976, when she met thirty-two-year-old porn star John Holmes. Holmes courted Dawn, had sex with her, and manipulated her with drugs and alcohol. Holmes physically and emotionally abused Dawn for several years. After the famed Wonderland murders in 1981, they fled to Florida, where she ultimately broke free and turned him over to the police.
Dawn eventually relocated to northern California and finally to the Pacific Northwest, where she now lives with her daughter. In addition to being a devoted mother, Dawn has worked as an associate producer and consultant on the movie Wonderland (she was portrayed by actress Kate Bosworth; John Holmes was played by Val Kilmer).
Dawn is adamant about relating her story with the hope that any other young teen won’t fall into the same hell that she did. She has developed a national presentation titled “Our Throwaway Teens—Who Are They and How Can We Help?” to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities of teens growing up in abusive and neglectful environments. Dawn educates audiences about what a teen might be experiencing internally when targeted and groomed by a predator, how to identify a young victim in trouble, pedophile seduction techniques, and the use of drugs to manipulate and trap a victim. She gives an inside view of what it’s like to be a “throwaway teen” and how we, as a community, can help. Dawn has founded E.S.T.E.A.M., (Empowering Successful Teens through Education, Awareness & Mentoring), a nonprofit dedicated to assisting teens who are struggling to find a safe and successful path to adulthood.
Today, Dawn is the proud parent of a beautiful daughter. She works full time at a university in the arts and science department, is on the committee to revise the university’s sexual harassment policy, and is a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). Nationally she is a member of the education committee and is an advisory board member for the National Center of Victims of Crime as well as a TTEC consultant for the Office for Victims of Crime out of Washington, D.C. She is an advisory board member for The Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center as well as Voices Set Free. She presented for End Violence Against Women International (EVAW) in 2010 and represented Val Kilmer in New York for the Volvo For Life Awards in both 2006 and 2008. But most importantly, Dawn has spent the last six years completing her memoir, The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes. Nominated for the R.O.S.E. (Regaining One’s Self-Esteem) award in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and the Sunshine Peace Award in 2010, Dawn has been abstinent from drugs and alcohol for many years.
Listen Dawn Schiller sharing her story at The Orchard church in Aurora, IL. 9/19/10.
Awards and Nominations
Dawn Schiller Receives Courage Award!
The President's Commission on the Status of Women Recognizes Dawn Schiller for her Courage and Vision in Working for a World Without Violence Against Women and Girls. International Women's Day, March 8, 2010. Eastern Oregon University.