The mother's voice drops to barely a whisper when she talks about the past. Years ago, she explains, a relative abused her 5-year-old child. Hoping to find a way for her family to heal, she sought help at the Children's Advocacy Center of Catawba County. The center, in Conover, North Carolina, was founded in 1998 as a child-focused and family-friendly place for victims and their non-offending family members.
"In the beginning, you're just very shocked and scared and you don't know who to talk to, where to go, if anyone can really help you," the mother remembers. "Most of all, you want to tell your story and you want to be heard and you want to be understood. You want someone to tell you that they know what you've been through and what you can do to start getting your life back together."
Safe Haven for Healing
The children's advocacy center offered a safe haven as healing began.
"For myself, I just needed someone to talk to, someone who understood," the mother says. "It's really difficult to talk to family and friends because something like this is so shocking. They don't understand and they don't know what to say to you or how to help you. And so you end up just keeping it to yourself unless you do have a place to go like a children's advocacy center."
Without the help they found there, it would have taken family members much longer to heal.
"The center provided us a path to becoming a whole, happy family again. It takes a long time for that to happen anyway, but without these services, I think the progress would have been a lot slower."
The mother says her daughter is now eight years old—and "doing wonderful today."
About the photo: The Children's Advocacy Center of Catawba County is in the historic Bolick home, which was renovated with the help of more than $45,000 in donations from the community. It provides a child and family-friendly atmosphere with two interview rooms, a family resource room, a private exam room for forensic medical exams, meeting space and a playground outside.
Phillip H. Redmond Jr.
Director of Child Care