Child abuse through the eyes of a child

Hi – My name's Annie. I'm 11 ½ years old, and I used to have a terrible secret.

It started when I was seven. My mom and dad got divorced when I was five, and daddy moved to another state. Then, I got a step-dad. His name was Rick. I liked him at first, but then he started doing things to me that dads shouldn't do to their kids. When I'd be watching TV, he'd snuggle up with me on the couch, and put a blanket over us and touch me where he shouldn't. I quit watching TV when he was around, but that didn't make him stop. He started coming into my bedroom at night when mom was at work. I hated when he did that. I started to have nightmares. I didn't know why he hurt me like that. Why me? What did I do?

He told me I could never tell anyone – that it was our special secret. He said if I ever told, they'd take me and my little sister, Molly, away from our mom, and that it would ruin our family, and it would all be my fault.

One day, after Rick had hurt me, I started crying in front of my best friend, Danielle, and I told her about some of the things he did to me. She promised not to tell anyone. I was in second-grade then and I liked school, but I couldn't pay attention in class, so I started getting bad grades. One day, our teacher, Mrs. Walker, asked Danielle if she knew what was wrong with me. Danielle broke her promise and told my secret. Now I'm glad, because Mrs. Walker said she was going to do something to help me, and she did. She reported my abuse.

And that's how I came to CARE House. I'll never forget the first time I went there. I remember I was so scared, and I had a stomach ache. All I could think about was - what would happen if I told my secret?

My mom was with me, and she looked scared too. We rang the doorbell, and this really nice lady, her name was Miss Lexy, answered the door. She smiled at me, and she already knew my name. She took mom and me to a really cool room that looked like we were at the beach. She played some games with me, and we just talked about school and stuff. I felt safe there with her.

Then I met another nice lady, Miss Amy, and I went with her across the hall to another room. I drew pictures and colored while we talked. She told me the most important thing I could do was to tell the truth.

More than anything, I just wanted what was happening to stop. So, I told her the truth. I told her my terrible secret, and she believed me.

When we were done talking, Miss Amy told me I was a very brave girl. I don't think I was so brave. But, after I told her my secret, my stomach felt better and I didn't feel so afraid.

After that, mom and I went home. And, Rick didn't live with us anymore, and he's not my step-dad anymore, and he had to go to jail for a long time, so I was safe.

My mom told me she was so sorry about what happened, and that she loved me very much and was proud of me.

She also told me we were going back to CARE House every week to talk to another nice lady, Miss Ana, who helps kids like me. She says that we can't see them, but what happened left scars inside of me. And, every time we talk about it, and I know it wasn't my fault, those scars heal a little bit more. She says it's really sad, but that I'm not alone – there are so many other kids this happens to, and she wishes she could help them all. I know she helped me.

I'm in 6th grade now, and things are a lot better. I'm not afraid, and I like going to school again, and mom isn't so sad anymore.

So, I just wanted to tell you how much CARE House helped me and my mom. And, that if you ever need help like I did, you should go to CARE House - they'll help you too.