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Shelly's Story: Ending the Cycle of Abuse
Studies show that in 30 to 60 percent of homes where there is domestic violence, there is also child abuse. This was unfortunately true for Shelly, a 12-year-old girl who we helped at our Queens Child Advocacy Center.
Shelly’s stepfather had been sexually abusing her for months before she finally found the courage to report him. She did so in spite of the domestic violence also taking place in her home. As we talked to Shelly’s mom, we could hear the fear in her voice as she talked about her home and her husband. She was terrified of him and scared to stay in the house. Shelly’s mother was also afraid because her husband had threatened friends of hers who had tried to help.
It became clear that in order to help Shelly, we would have to give her mother the tools she urgently needed to escape the violence and abuse that overshadowed their lives.
Fortunately, they came to the right place. At Safe Horizon, we have Child Advocacy Centers that provide abused children with healing, hope, and justice through our teamwork with law enforcement agents, the DA’s office, children’s services representatives, medical partners, and our expert clinical staff. We also have services to help families affected by domestic violence, including hotlines, shelters, and counseling to provide help to those fleeing violence.
With such comprehensive support for victims of violence, we were able to find Shelly’s mother the protection she needed and worked with our children’s protective services partner so she could get an order of protection against the stepfather.
Working together, we were able to help Shelly’s mother leave her husband and find a secure place to live. Doing so not only gave Shelly the means to escape the sexual abuse she endured, but helped her mother begin to regain her confidence. Shelly’s mother found a job soon afterward, which helped her to remain independent and to care for her daughter.
Domestic violence takes its toll on every member of the family, including children. With Safe Horizon’s support, families can truly find the support they need to escape violence and to find a path to help, healing, and hope.
Make a difference. Domestic violence can have a devastating effect on children. You can help the children and families Safe Horizon serves find the hope and help they need to overcome crisis.
* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.