One day in December 2006, Argyle resident Ellen Malone received a phone call from a family friend who informed her that her oldest niece– age 12 at the time—had made an outcry of sexual abuse. She identified her mother’s live-in boyfriend as the perpetrator.
Malone feared that her other nieces—ages 10 and 11– may have also been sexually abused. All three girls were living in a world muted by their mother’s alcoholism. Malone decided to fight for emergency guardianship of the girls.
While receiving word of the abuse was scary enough, she had no idea of the long, arduous road ahead of her and her young nieces. By the time the case went to trial, these young girls had to recount their personal nightmare at least seven times to an assortment of strangers.
Malone couldn’t believe the amount of school missed, hours spent driving, and time spent in general to make their case.
“A good defense attorney could sift through the numerous interviews and use any discrepancies to support the perpetrators’ case,” said Malone. “Needless to say, the investigation and prosecution procedure was time-consuming and overwhelming, with little control and much room for error.”
Because Malone and her husband lived in Denton County, the girls were referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center (CACDC) in Lewisville for group counseling.
Over the course of many months of help from their therapists, the girls learned the difference between safe versus unsafe behaviors and how to establish healthy boundaries. And, they developed a righteous indignation about what had happened to them.
Concurrently, Malone joined a support group, which provided a wealth of information to equip her to help her nieces through the prosecution and healing process.
If the CACDC been involved from the first outcry, Child Protective Services would’ve been notified immediately and the police and forensic interviewer would have met the girls at the Center, a child-friendly and welcoming place.
The girls would have been able to explain the circumstances and details only a single time in an interview room equipped with state-of-the-art video equipment. A 2-way glass mirror would allow law enforcement to view the interview and contact the interviewer, should they have additional questions. The girls would’ve been examined in the onsite examination room that has a warm, non-clinical feel.
Malone’s nieces are a few of the many children who need the Advocacy Center to find justice and healing after abuse.
To hear the rest of Malone’s story, join CACDC at their 5th Annual American Eagle Harley-Davidson Champions for Children Gala on April 5 at Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound.
In 1996, the year before the Center became fully operational, only eight child sexual abuse cases filed by law enforcement resulted in a criminal conviction. Since 1997, CACDC has helped bring more than 1,000 offenders in Denton County to justice. But sadly, the need for more space, more therapists, and more attention is growing as quickly as Denton County itself.
To learn more about CACDC, the upcoming gala and how you can get involved in the fight against child abuse, visit www.cacdc.org or call 972-317-2818.