Katie, a 5yr Kinder student happy, energetic, and very bright!!
Christmas Break: She spends a few days and nights with her cousins like she has done so many times before.
When she comes home this time something is different… Katie isn’t the same. She has become sullen, not hungry even for spaghetti, her favorite. Katie begins having nightmares and won’t sleep without a light on and has frequent stomach aches and her head hurts. Her pediatrician can’t find a reason for these symptoms. Oh and now she doesn’t want to go to her cousins to play.
Back to school after the break, Katie’s teacher notices a change too and talks to her mom.
Mom says she’s noticed changes too but when she asks Katie, she says ” it’s nothing”.
A few weeks later a representative from the local Child Advocacy Center (CAC) came in and talked to Katie’s class about being safe. She explained about touches that make us feel happy and those that make us uncomfortable. She discussed with them about talking to a safe adult when they don’t feel safe. Katie likes her teacher and thinks of her as a safe adult and decides to tell her what happened over Christmas break.
Katie’s teacher had also just received the training from the CAC for teachers about recognizing and reporting abuse. She learned not to question Katie, but comforts her and tells her how brave she is for telling, and she will do what she can to help her. Her teacher makes a report to the child abuse hotline.
Back at the CAC, the intake coordinator reads a report of sexual assault on a five-year-old girl and calls the investigators from the local law enforcement to set an interview.
Katie and her mom come to the CAC, where they are greeted by staff whose only goal is to make Katie and her mom feel safe and comfortable as possible.
Another smiling face comes in to meet Katie, the Forensic Interviewer. She introduces herself and tells Katie that they will be talking together soon and shows her and mom where Katie and the Interviewer will be talking.
The investigator for Katie’s case is in a separate observation room to watch the interview. Katie and Mom know that this will be videotaped and are reassured it does not go public.
The Forensic Interviewer, a Family Advocate, and the Investigator talk with mom briefly before the interview, while Katie plays in the waiting room, where a CAC staff member is there to help her with anything she may need.
When they are ready to begin, the Forensic Interviewer walks with Katie back to the interview room where she gets to know more about Katie and why she has come to the CAC. The Interviewer, without asking leading questions, allows Katie to tell her experience.
Katie feels safe and is able to talk about what had happened to her, that her favorite uncle had touched her in ways much different than ever before and it was uncomfortable. He had always told her how beautiful and smart she was. He gave her little gifts and made her feel special, but this was different and he told her this was their special secret. Her uncle then told her if she tells anyone she would make her mom very sad and she would likely be in big trouble.
While Katie is in the interview, a Family advocate comes and visits with mom. They go to a private room to talk about the services available to their family at no cost to her. The Family Advocate offers to connect the family with Trauma-Focused Therapists, to help start the healing process. CAC offers several other resources they might need and will follow up with mom regularly and offers for her to call when needed.
Once the interview is over, Mom is briefed about what her daughter has experienced. The investigators talked to her about providing a Sexual Assault Exam at the center for Katie and they will make arrangements with the SANE Nurse. The nurse provides a non-invasive exam on Katie and communicates with mom to ease any concerns she may have. This type of exam also helps the child know that their body is okay.
The interview and exam process is over, Katie felt safe enough to tell of her experience… a definite relief, but it’s not over for her. Katie will need trauma-focused therapy, to help learn coping skills and work through her experience. Mom is understandably devastated, after all this was mom’s brother. How could he do this to her little girl? As a secondary trauma victim, mom will need counseling too and it will be available for her also.
Katie is lucky, her mom believes her and is protective, not all moms are like Katie’s. Mom is visibly upset and needs a few minutes to compose herself, she is told to take all the time she needs. Katie is safe out front having a snack and is busy choosing a new blanket and toy to take home. She asks if she can take something home to her little brother and of course she can!
Katie’s story is like so many others out there struggling with a situation that they had been groomed to think is special or normal, but because the CAC was able to provide the needed education for Katie’s class and teacher she was provided an avenue to share what had happened to her in a safe atmosphere. Katie was given a path to recovery and a VOICE!