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Paul found out when one day, his 11-year-old daughter Wendy complained of being in pain. He took her to the hospital so doctors could examine her. That’s when Wendy told the doctors she had been abused – and the doctors reported the abuse immediately. That report led Wendy and her father to a Safe Horizon Child Advocacy Center, where they met our police detective partners to talk about what happened. Wendy then revealed another stunning secret: Her uncle, Paul’s brother, was the one who’d sexually abused her.
I can’t imagine how shocked, and heartbroken, Paul had to feel. But imagine how much Wendy suffered, betrayed by someone she should’ve trusted, and trying to keep the abuse a secret.
The detectives went out and arrested Wendy’s uncle. The arrest, however, didn’t end things for Wendy and Paul. The abuse had left Wendy traumatized. Her father was shocked and totally unprepared to deal with what could be the toughest time in his family’s lives.
Imagine if Wendy and her father had to deal with these tragic circumstances on their own. Thankfully, Wendy and Paul would not be alone. Thankfully, they had come to a Child Advocacy Center.
Safe Horizon’s Child Advocacy Centers are there when children like Wendy experience unimaginable abuse and need critical and special support. We’re there for parents like Paul, who face the devastating effects of abuse and who must find a way to help their children and themselves deal with the aftermath.
Our centers give abused children one place where they can speak with police detectives who go out and find and arrest their abusers. They also find medical partners who can provide exams, as well as representatives from the district attorney’s office and child protection services who can give children and their families legal and practical support. Working with our counselors and clinical staff, children and their families can also find the listening ear and emotional support they need to face crisis.
Paul had difficult choices to make, for his daughter and for the sake of his family. Safe Horizon supported Wendy and Paul through their decisions, providing counseling to help them through the traumatic experiences they suffered. The abuse had affected Wendy deeply, but her father also suffered. With our expert counseling, we helped Wendy and Paul manage the emotional and psychological crises they felt, and also helped Paul learn how to deal with his brother’s criminal investigation, while being able to support Wendy further so his daughter could heal.
It took several weeks, but finally we saw the breakthrough we hoped for. When Wendy met with our counselors, she told us how much better she was doing. She’d started doing the things she enjoyed before the abuse happened, she told us, and she was doing much better in school. Best of all, Wendy felt much closer to her father, receiving the support she needed from him in order to recover faster.
Wendy and her father found their chance to heal and mend the bonds between them thanks to the work of our Child Advocacy Center staff and partners. Wendy also found the justice she needed, when her family learned that the district attorney was able to successfully prosecute her uncle for the abuse. Yet it’s thanks to our supporters that there are Child Advocacy Centers, where Wendy and Paul found the help and hope they needed.
There are so many more children who deserve their chance to heal and to recover, and to regain their lives after abuse.
*Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.