Jul 11, 2023
By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
No one knew why eleven-year-old Peter went from a straight-A student to barely passing. No one knew why he became aggressive and angry at home and school. No one knew the secret he kept for two years.
No one knew until the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grayson County came to his school one day and taught an abuse prevention class. That’s when Peter realized he wasn’t supposed to keep the secret.
The sexual abuse he’d suffered ended with an arrest, and Peter entered therapy sessions at the Children’s Advocacy Center. Healing, Peter is getting back to being an eleven-year-old boy in a life filled with joy, fun, and well-placed trust.
Peter’s story is one of the hundreds handled with love annually through the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grayson County (CAC). Instead of a confusing, scary process, kids like Peter and their families are rallied by a community of professionals from law enforcement to therapists.
“We are designed to help children who experience trauma and abuse,” explains Britney Barker, executive director at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grayson County. “There is a giant network of us: 70 in the state of Texas and over 900 in the US. There is a high level of accountability in what we are doing. We offer evidence-based services for kids and families after they’ve experienced abuse.”
Britney started work at the CAC fifteen years ago, directly supporting kids and their families. She found how rewarding it was to be a calm presence in the midst of chaos.
“Now what gets me up every day is supporting my staff that are interacting with these kids and families every day to help them heal,” Britney says. “It’s hard work and not everyone can do it. I want my staff to be successful so the kids we’re serving can be successful.”
Forensic interviews, advocacy, medical exams, therapy—everything a child and their family needs are in one place at CAC—at no cost to them. All the services provided by CAC are free to the victim and their family.
Now, through their Texoma Health Foundation (THF) funding, CAC can keep a strong focus on the mental health of the kids. With highly trained therapists, they see the majority of kids go from PTSD and depression symptoms to zero after twelve therapy sessions like what Peter received.
“We’re grateful for THF and their focus on mental health,” Brittney says. “Without support, we might not be able to keep all our staff or see all the kids that need help. We don’t ever want to charge a victim money for getting better. That’s not okay. We want to make sure they have access to the best care for free.”
Note: Peter’s story was de-identified to protect the innocent.