Since 1977, the Houston Area Women’s Center has led the charge in our community against sexual and domestic violence. Thanks to charitable gifts from friends like you, each day we provide critical services like our Crisis Hotlines, Emergency Shelter and so many others. We still need your help.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month – thirty days each year devoted to raise public awareness about sexual violence and ways to prevent it. Please join me as I tell you about a brave little girl and remind you that sexual violence is not just about grown-ups.
Six-year old Katelyn* was excited to spend her vacation at grandma’s house. But her excitement turned to horror when grandma’s boyfriend did something to her that no little girl – or any child – should ever experience…and now Katelyn was officially a survivor of sexual abuse. She was scared. But when she came home, she had the courage to tell her mom. Katelyn’s mother immediately filed charges with local police against this man – someone her own mother ended up choosing over family. She and Katelyn were soon referred to us at the Houston Area Women’s Center, where they could both get help with the legal system through our Children’s Court Services. This program helps children who are crime victims or witnesses as they participate in the criminal justice system. And we were there for so much more. We made sure Katelyn and her mom were supported at every step. Katelyn’s Court Advocate stood by them through over four years of forensic interviews, court depositions, court resets and the actual trial. When it was all over, she sent her Advocate a note: “Thank you for being on my side. Thank you for helping me at the trial. Even when I cried, you were always there to cheer me up. Thank you for being my friend.”
*Katelyn’s name and the identifying details of her story have been changed for reasons of confidentiality.
So please remember, sexual violence impacts families. It can happen at any hour and to anyone. With your help, we will be there to respond. Less than 10% of all sexual assaults committed in Texas are actually reported to law enforcement – it is the most underreported crime in the state.
Your gift will not only change lives, it will save them. Your commitment to supporting the Houston Area Women’s Center makes it possible for us to do whatever it takes to help Katelyn and others like her heal and move forward.