One day during the school year, Nicole* (name changed for confidentiality), a shy teen with cognitive delays, disclosed to her school counselor that she was being sexually abused by a close family member. The allegation was reported, and our CARE House multi-disciplinary team immediately went into action. This team includes a detective from law enforcement, a worker from Child Protective Services (CPS), a prosecuting attorney, an advocate from Victim Witness, medical and mental health professionals, and the CARE House Family Advocate.
The first step was to make sure Nicole was physically healthy, so she was immediately brought to the hospital for a sexual assault exam. The CARE House Family Advocate was there to provide Nicole with much needed emotional support and a caring hand to hold. Next, it was time to bring Nicole to CARE House for her forensic interview so she would only have to tell her painful story just one time in a safe, child-friendly, and confidential space. It was during this forensic interview that the multi disciplinary team learned Nicole had been suffering ongoing horrific sexual abuse from not only one, but two household members for years.
With evidence from the forensic interview and the sexual assault exam, both family members were arrested and charged for their heinous crimes. Nicole’s brave testimony during the interview ensured she will never have to go back to the home where she suffered for many years.
Nicole now lives with loving relatives who provide a nurturing safe space for her to heal and grow, free from sexual abuse. The CARE House team remains a support for Nicole and her caregivers and connects them to resources as they navigate this new chapter in their lives. Nicole is thriving, and the once shy and reserved girl has blossomed into an outgoing and confident example of strength and healing to others and, most importantly, to herself.