Our mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families affected by sexual abuse through education and intervention.
Most people don't think about danger when they go to take a walk in their neighborhood. The sun outside, the bird chirping in the background, and cars passing by seems like something normal to all of us. One day, all of that changed for for fifteen year old Sadie. She had left a friend's home and was on the way back to her own home when approached by an older guy that she didn't know. He offered her a drink on a hot day, and what happened next changed her life.
He took her to a place around his home where he proceeded to sexually assault her. A couple of months later, Sadie was acting up at school and no one knew why. She finally expressed where her anger was coming from, her assault. Sadie came to the center and talked to the interviewer about what had happened to her. She provided all of the details needed to proceed with charges against her abuser. She had a medical exam right after her interview to ensure that she was okay, and her case has been staffed by our team to ensure that she and her family are receiving all of the services needed for them during this difficult time. Our team has discovered that when multiple people from different agencies come together, ideas can be shared and new strategies can be discussed as to how to make sure that the family receives help and the case is successful in court. What happens on daily basis at the center changes the lives of those in our community, and sometimes all it takes is someone caring for a child to feel safe again.
Children engaging in sexual play can sometimes be exploratory play as they discover their own body parts. However, once children are older some still act out in sexual ways. Matthew went to visit a friend at his home. The two were playing video games just as boys do, when suddenly both of their lives would change.
Adam is the one that Matthew went to visit. He's a shy boy until he feel comfortable with you, then he comes out of his shell and is quite funny and likes to be the center of attention. Well, Matthew took advantage of Adam that day, and made him do sexual things that Adam never would have dreamed of doing at such a young age. Adam's mother noticed his behavior change and several things that happened that day just didn't seem right to her. When she asked Adam what happened, he finally told her that Matthew had hurt him.
Adam came to the center that day and talked about what had happened during Matthew's visit. He appeared extremely nervous and unsure of what was happening, yet, he had the courage to tell. Adam's case was discussed amongst our team, and it eventually went to trial. Matthew was held accountable for his actions, and Adam never had to take the stand. Adam left the courthouse that day with a smile on his face knowing that others were on his side to support him. Sometimes it feels to a child like they are standing in front of a huge mountain that they will never be able to climb on their own because of what they have gone through. If we give families and children the help and the tools that they need to move forward, the mountain then becomes a small hill. We all walk over it together, and the child that has been harmed now knows that they shall never walk alone.
I want someone to care about the pain that I was dealt,
I'm young, impressionable, and in need of help.
The person who was supposed to care for me,
Dumped me off on others so that he could be free.
He left to go on his own, merry way,
To do all kinds of things that are just not okay.
His drug abuse ruined my life,
He spent many days high as a kite.
I was left with people that I did not even know,
They hurt me in so many unimaginable ways and stunted my growth.
The world is dark through my sad, dreary eyes,
In the night if you listen, you hear lots of my cries.
I trust no one and always watch my back,
I carry my sorrows in my mind like a heavy backpack.
The center gave me place where I did not feel alone
I told my stories and made my feelings known.
I left through the doors with a smile on my face,
Knowing that many people cared inside of this place.
Perhaps things will get better with time,
They helped me to begin to find peace in my chaotic mind.
We all learn at a young age that we need to call 911 in time of emergencies and safety issues. We teach children at a young age to ALWAYS tell if you need help. The problem is that sometimes telling isn't an easy thing to do, especially if a child is being harmed by their own parents. Children fear how the rest of the family will react, and they fear that once their parents find out, there will be more abuse. The question then becomes, do I tell or do I keep quiet?
Sadie was a young girl who just wanted her own abuse to stop. For years, she was sexually abused by her parents upon multiple occasions. Going home was not something that this child looked forward to, instead it was a feeling of dread. Finally, one day, Sadie had had it and just wanted the abuse to stop. She went to someone at school and told about what had been happening to her, and she was told to call 911. That day, Sadie went home and called 911. Little did she know at the time, that that one phone call would change the rest of her life.
Sadie was brought to the Hill Country Children's Advocacy Center where she was interviewed in a child friendly atmosphere by a Forensic Interviewer who cared. She gave many details about her abuse, and one could see the pain in her eyes. While at the center, she also received a medical exam that would provide extra evidence in her case to help put her parents behind bars for good.
During the course of the investigation, Sadie's brother, Adam, also was asked about sexual abuse. At first, he denied anything ever happening to him. Our team decided that perhaps Adam needed some extra time just incase something had happened because they had concerns about his demeanor at the time. He saw our therapist here who does extended interviews of children who are suspected of being abused. Over time, Adam opened up and shared that he too had been sexually abused just like his sister.
The case moved through the criminal justice system with the help of investigators and eventually ended up at the District Attorney's Office. It was now time to prosecute. Sadie and Adam's parents received substantial sentences for the abuse that they perpetrated for YEARS, and now they too will have to pay in YEARS.
The success of this case was due to the courage of the children involved, the caring of the investigators and team members who put countless hours into providing protection and support for these children. They say it takes a village sometimes to make things happen, and the Child Protection Team is a perfect example of this. When everyone comes together with one common interest, the children in our community, wonderful things can happen. Children can once again be children with big smiles, warm feelings, and playful words. They can sleep peacefully once again knowing that someone cared and stood up in their honor to say no to child abuse. My how wonderful teamwork really is...