Abigail and Shawn, Ages 8 and 7
8-year-old Abigail* came to the Center after making an outcry of abuse. Arriving with her mother and 7-year-old brother, Shawn*, Abigail avoided eye contact and shuffled her feet as she made her way to the waiting room. A forensic interviewer greeted Abigail and her family and quickly realized that Abigail’s mother was having a very hard time dealing with the situation. The interviewer called a family advocate to sit with Abigail’s mother, listen to her concerns and answer questions about what would be happening next.
Abigail was reluctant at first to talk about what had happened to her. The forensic interviewer asked her about her favorite things to do and Abigail smiled as she began to talk about playing with her dog. She relaxed her posture and began to speak more freely. Soon, she was able to disclose details of the sexual abuse inflicted upon her little body by both her biological father and her mother’s ex-boyfriend. The men who hurt Abigail were from two different jurisdictions, which in many systems can complicate the investigation and drag out a family’s trauma for an extended length of time. But, because of the collaboration of the Child Protection Team, all members met immediately and shared information about Abigail and her family. Law enforcement from both jurisdictions, Child Protective Services, the family advocate and forensic interviewer compiled what they had learned about Abigail and her family. After meeting, it was determined that Abigail’s younger brother, Shawn*, had witnessed some of his sister’s abuse. Shawn was also interviewed and was proud that he was able to tell the truth about the scary things he saw happen to his sister.
With the amount of evidence provided by Abigail, Shawn, and their mother, the detectives were able to issue warrants for the suspects. Because law enforcement is part of the Child Protection Team, the family advocate and forensic interviewer were notified without delay and were able to assure Abigail and her family that they would be safe from both men who hurt Abigail.
Families must be kept informed if they are to feel safe and begin to process their feelings about the trauma they have endured. Abigail and her family continue to come to the Center to work through what happened to Abigail. With the support of a multidisciplinary team, Abigail and her family will be able to continue the process of healing and move on with their lives in a healthy way.
* Names and other identifying circumstances have been changed to protect the privacy of children and families.
Return to Our Children ››