I have full parental and child permission to share her story, just in case you were wondering. 🙂
I’m sitting in the corner of a small a cold room. I’m surrounded by victims, advocates, and lawyers. Shaking, I patiently wait for my turn to testify. This would be one of many court appearances. Everyone seems to be in tears except for me. I feel like in I’m a foreign land and remember thinking why is everyone crying? Oh and Of course I have a nervous smile on my face. I can’t cry. I won’t let myself, not now. He won’t ever get to see me cry. PERIOD. But I’m not going to lie the fear is overwhelming. I have no idea what’s coming next and there is no one there to tell me so I just wait.
My phone vibrates in my hands as I glance to look at a text message. Its an encouraging message from a friend and for some reason this is the only thought that popped into my head… when this is all said and done I want to meet a child who has gone through this process because if a child can do it so can I. That was the actual text that I sent. It’s a silly concept because trust me there are children out there that are WAY BRAVER than I am but in the moment that thought gave me comfort, like somehow if a child could do it then it is not as scary as it seemed. Yea, like I said silly.
I get the privilege to attend trauma training’s, workshops, and occasional conferences for my job. Sometimes they have a kids section where they educate children about sexual assault in an age appropriate way. So naturally I venture over to the kids section and I spot a girl no older then 10 years old. She is nervously standing by the stage as I take a seat, unknowingly, next to her mother. An adult provides an introduction as this little girl walks up on a pretty large stage that seems to encompass her entire frame. She begins her story. “I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. At first I was very scared to tell someone because I didn’t want to get my daddy in trouble but now I know it’s not my fault. I miss my daddy but I know he is getting the help he needs because he was very sick. I want you to know that it’s ok to tell an adult if someone is touching you in private areas because that’s not ok and it’s not your fault.”
My heart is filled with sadness over this little angel’s story and joy over her recovery, resilience, and strength. Her mother informs me that her father is in prison for 30 years because of her daughter’s testimony. Maddy went through the court process! This innocent child not only endured the abuse but was brave enough to confront her father in a court of law. I realize that this little girl has so much strength and wisdom beyond her years. She has so much to teach the world. She has so much to teach me. I decide in that moment I must meet her.
She was very friendly and loved the fact that I helped kids like her to heal. She said that she really liked going to counseling because she got to play a lot of games and sometimes got to skip school (play therapy). She eagerly looked up at me and said, “I get to help other kids by telling my story so they know it’s safe to tell like I did. It’s scary sometimes but I know that I did nothing wrong and I told the lawyer that too.” She said this with the most brilliant smirk on her face. I’ll never forget it.
Her eyes are etched in my heart. They shined with a mixture of beauty and pain. Their blue shade gave an image of resilience and hope. She is the next generation. I know that I will see her again because she is not done leaving her mark on the world. She is my hero and about the comment that it must not be that bad if a child could do it, well that’s just silly, because children can face great fear and rise to the occasion. They can be the hero to the nightmare. I will forever remember Maddy’s eyes and the story of hope etched on her heart…
Who is your hero? My hero is a 10 year old girl named Maddy.