Many times numbers are impersonal – until they are not.
For several weeks prior to her 3rd birthday, my child, Alex, would awake every night screaming. One night, when I went to her, she continued to cry and scream. I noticed she was trembling and shaking, clearly coming out of a nightmare.
Assuming a bad dream, I ask, “What’s wrong little one? Are you scared?” Through tears she told me that an extended family member had been sexually abusing her. The days and months that followed have been the most challenging period our family has ever endured. A social worker friend gave my wife and I some good advice, and we reported the abuse appropriately. The first step was to visit the CACCC for a forensic interview, which ultimately substantiated my daughter’s outcry.
From the first moment in the CACCC we were greeted with warmth and tenderness. Every interaction since that first day has been wonderful. Our CACCC counselor Ms. Cherri, explained that night terrors and toilet training regression were the result of trauma. It broke our hearts to learn how frightened Alex was feeling. For several months Ms. Cherri worked with Alex to talk about what happened and taught her coping techniques. My wife and I have also learned how to best support Alex through the process.
Without CACCC to encourage, support, and continue counseling, little Alex would still be suffering with symptoms of abuse. Many children experience severe symptoms of untreated trauma in childhood, teen years and adulthood. Symptoms can include physical ailments like headaches, stomachaches, sleeplessness, lack of concentration, poor school performance, severe depression or anxiety, sometimes suicidal thoughts and criminal behaviors. Children like Alex who get specialized treatment are incredibly resilient and end up having very few remaining negative symptoms.
Though Alex is just 3 years old, she could teach us all a little about courage. Alex worked hard and bravely for skills that would help her, though it was difficult and scary. Alex’s nightmares and fearful symptoms have greatly decreased. At great personal risk and emotional hardships, we put her healing and growth above everything else.
The CACCC offers a therapy, called Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to over 400 children annually. Services can be offered at no charge because of the generous supports who give to organizations like United Way of Comal County, who has supported the CACCC counseling program every year of its existence.