Recently, Family & Children’s Place supporters had the chance to learn about “Annabelle” and her story. It’s so good and so important we want to share it here, and to encourage you to share it with others – friends, family – anyone who can help us end child abuse.
Annabelle is a doll, but a very special doll – one chosen by a child hurt by violence, abuse – physical or sexual – or neglect, that helps with the child’s recovery. Annabelle is there with the child in the waiting room, during the forensic interview and medical exam, and in sessions with therapists who help the child understand what happened and manage the trauma.
Before we begin, though, we want to thank members of Highview Baptist Church who provide the dolls, ensuring children have a “friend,” something to hold onto, to hug, as they navigate their journey from hurting to healing.
Now, let’s hear Annabelle’s story:
My name is Annabelle. I was donated to Family & Children’s Place where I lived in a dark closet with teddy bears, stuffed animals, and other rag dolls like me. Every day, children come into our room, and, with fear in their eyes, pick one of us off the shelf. The day that I was chosen, I realized my life’s work.
The little girl who picked me was terrified, pale and would not look anywhere but the ground. She squeezed me harder than I’d ever thought possible when the grown-ups started asking her questions. She had a secret she was afraid to tell. She didn’t want anyone else to be hurt. I knew immediately that I had to be strong and brave so that she could be, too.
We were both fearful when we went for the medical examination. I knew these strangers wanted to help her, but she was afraid to be touched. The doctor was kind, and he let my new friend examine me first. She took my picture with the big camera and told me that it would all be over soon. She buried her face into my hair and cried silent tears when it was her turn.
That night, and many nights after, the little girl woke up from a bad dream. She was covered in sweat and screaming, and I was there for her. I’m always there for her. In school, at gymnastics class, and especially when she goes back to Family & Children’s Place to talk about and heal from what happened. I’m her best friend. But, my love is not enough.
Like me, you care deeply for children overcoming violence and sexual abuse, and in the past, you have provided comfort to children in their time of hurt and given solace in their time of healing. Their journey to recovery from the trauma is long, and these children need continued support.
Annabelle goes on to ask for help – tangible help – to can end child violence, abuse and neglect and their devastating effects. Her pleas are for donations, for pledges and commitments to be a true friend to these children.
To do that requires ongoing support – frequent gifts, such as a monthly pledge – that ensures a steady stream of resources to support the services needed to heal a broken child and his or her family.
Will you be a friend? Will you commit to the long-term, the journey that begins with a report or awareness but takes months, even years to help do everything we can to end abuse to families and ensure they are happy, healthy and free from abuse?
Annabelle comforted a child through tough times, and was there during his or her many sleepless nights. Won’t you be there, too, to help a child until that one day he or she is ready, is brave enough to face the world without Annabelle?
Please, go here to help.