This is a speech by Lori Phillips from the Children’s Advocacy Center 2017 Cherish a Child Luncheon
The year was 1993. My oldest daughter, Jennifer, came to me one evening and disclosed a horrific truth.
Her father had sexually molested her.
She was 11 years old that year. The specific abuse had taken place many years before. She had blocked it out, only to remember on a cold and windy October afternoon.
I believed her, but I didn’t want to believe that the one person I trusted most with her care, could commit such a vile act and hurt my child so deeply. I contacted the authorities. And I waited.
Once she disclosed her abuse, the floodgates opened. Her memory, her pain began to spill over, threatening to drown us all. I took to my journal, and wrote:
“We are hiding out at Mom’s, partially because I need the support. My sweet beautiful child has been hurt so deeply. The days pass and more is disclosed. I want to help her, to take it all away. I want to see him suffer. Death is too easy. How can anyone do this to an innocent child? Of course, he has taken that from her.”
The next few weeks were wrought with anxiety and tension. Never sure what would be around the next corner. Sometimes the days seem so endless. I want so much to help my baby girl, but I don’t know how. I see a facade during the day, but in the evening when we are alone, I see the raw ugly truth.
“I watch as she plucks out her eyelashes and brows. I place a pillow under her head as she bangs it against the hard floor. I want to scream, cry and vent my anger. I grieve for what is lost, for the innocence that was taken from her. She can never go back, will never have a normal childhood or adolescence. I’m angry, sad and frightened. How am I to deal with all of this?”
Navigating the legal system is confusing and frightening to most of us. It is especially frightening to a mother trying to protect her child from further harm, all the while dealing with the emotional hurricane that had laid waste to our lives.
The Task Force was a safe port in the storm directing us to the shelter of the CAC. Feeling confused, lost and alone, I placed my broken family in the capable hands of the CAC staff.
Jane welcomed us with warm open arms and provided the knowledge and support that we so desperately needed. It was here we started our journey of healing. My questions were answered as the entire staff held us up through each step on the road to recovery – the road that takes each of us from being a victim, to that of a survivor.
I became active in a parent’s support group at the Center. There I gained essential knowledge of the process we were to experience, from the Grand Jury to the courtroom and beyond. It was this amazing group, run by the CAC staff, that shared with me valuable insight into the world of not only the perpetrator, but the victim as well.
I came to understand how it happened without my knowledge, and how to help my daughter.
Therapy is a wonderful tool, and with a non-offending parent involvement, the path to healing can begin. It really does take a village to raise a child.
I recently had the honor to tour the expanded facility of the CAC. I was excited to view all the new opportunities the center has to help those who pass through the doors. Yet it saddens me to realize there is still a need, and that there always will be. Child sexual abuse has always been present in our communities, hiding in the threads of secrecy.
We need the CAC to help those who have been abused, their families and to educate those that have not.
I am honored to tell my story. My family supports me now, as the CAC did so many years ago. They were my lifeline, my hope that someday I could say with conviction, “My family survived.”
I am so grateful to the CAC and all its supporters, volunteers, staff and sponsors. Because of them, my family is healthy and whole. They made the difference in our lives.
You can still make a Cherish a Child luncheon donation of any amount: