“One of the things I find most compelling about the CAC of Rockingham County is its grassroots origin; it was created by people who know their community. Child abuse is reprehensible, and unfortunately the abuse that these kids suffer is often just the beginning of a very difficult road moving forward. The CAC model requires accountability and collaboration between multiple agencies responsible for protecting the well-being of children, while balancing the interests of all parties in order to find the truth of the matter and proceed forward according to what is in the best interest of all parties involved.  When children make disclosures through this process, offenders are more likely to provide a confession, prosecutions rates go up, and convictions of those who perpetrate crimes against children are more frequently obtained.”


“Sometimes all you need is someone who will believe your story, and that’s all it took for me. When I entered the Child Advocacy Center, I was immediately surrounded by helpful hands, advocates ready to listen. Throughout my life I’ve heard many people deny that abuse has happened. Sometimes we shrug off things that our body or mind can’t handle or process. However, abuse does happen and it is real. I was sexually abused by my father when I was just a little girl. I was brainwashed for a long time into thinking nothing would come of it if I told anyone. I was told that no one would believe me, and that I’d be in trouble. However, my life was forever changed when I met a child advocate who told me the exact words that I needed to hear, “It’s not your fault” and “Everything will be okay”. They sat me down in a room and explained the interview process to me. There was not one moment during that time that I didn’t feel safe. The advocate was so kind and so sweet. I just knew that day was going to be the day they would help me, and I was right. I was no longer alone, and I no longer had a big secret I needed to hold in anymore. I had someone who believed my story, and didn’t once tell me that she didn’t believe me. She took the time to hear my every word, and supported me throughout the whole interview. The Child Advocacy Center uses trained professionals who make children feel safe and important. They give children a chance to tell their story and feel comfortable in doing so. They changed one little girl’s life forever, and I know they have and will do the same for many other children.”


Tell me now it’s untrue, what did her daddy do? He jacked a little bitty baby the man has got to be insane.

“Janie’s Got A Gun” by Aerosmith

In the lyrical verses, somewhere before the slamming power chords and in-between the intoxicating rhythmic drum beat comes the socially conscious message in a song that continually reminds us of the unbelievable horror a child experiences at the hands of their tormentor. Some people fluff off the message by saying it’s only rock and roll – I don’t, and I am associated with an organization that does not as well.

The Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County is an organization devoted to protecting children. In the years I have had the pleasure of working with them, I have found the staff to be professional, dedicated, well trained and team oriented towards the goal of assisting law enforcement, children and their families. It is such a comfort to know there is an organization just minutes away that I can reach out to and assist me in investigating the complexity of child sexual assault. Certainly, if “Hell is for Children,” the Child Advocacy Center is a comfort zone for kids, light years away from that hell.


“Imagine this young girl: brown, curly, Shirley Temple-like hair, smiling, bright, unashamed, and unafraid. Her dreams for her future bright as can be…until that day when everything changed in an instant. Now imagine that same girl, 12 years old, now so afraid and so ashamed. She was the victim of sexual abuse. That girl was me. I felt silenced, like I had no voice. I was keeping a secret that I feared to ever tell. I felt like I would never find my voice again. Months went by, and then the secret I swore never to tell came out, and that’s when the healing started.
In 2004, I was brought to the Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County to be interviewed about what happened to me. Initially, I felt terrified beyond words, fearing that if I told, something bad would happen. I could not imagine how I was going to tell my story. I had no hope. That changed because of the CAC. I was greeted by a friendly face, a smile, warmth. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe. I could sense immediately that I was understood. I found my VOICE that day. At the CAC, I was given my ‘dream team’, the multidisciplinary team that was assigned to my case. They are still angels to me. They have been part of my life in various ways since then; supporting me and cheering me on through middle school, high school, college and into my career now as an advocate at a CAC. I’ve come full circle.
There is a memory that I carry with me from my experience at the CAC. At the end of the interview, as my mom sat in the waiting room, I was brought to a bookcase filled with teddy bears. I was told I could choose any bear that I wanted to take home with me, as a token of my courage. I still have that bear today. It reads ‘Hope’ on the foot of the bear; and that’s what I’ve carried with me, HOPE, since walking into the Rockingham County Child Advocacy Center, 13 years ago.”