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“At 9 years old I was still sleeping in bed with mom and dad for fear that dad was going to kill mom.”
Addison Brown lived the first 9 years of her life in fear. Although, she didn’t realize it at the time. “I didn’t know it wasn’t normal that a dad drank 24 cans of beer a night. I didn’t know that all kids weren’t spanked with wire hangers. It’s not something you talk about as a child – that’s all you know. It’s just normal.”
Years later, she was at an event for Childhelp and heard an abuse survivor — a man who was sharing the story of his abusive childhood for the first time.
“He started bawling, and I started bawling and reflecting on my childhood and I went oh my gosh, I was abused, too.”
Brown, now a mom herself, began volunteering to help children who are walking in her shoes. She points out that child abuse is difficult to talk about because it causes so much shame.
“Some of the laws protect the parent more than the child. That is what we are trying to change here in Arizona,” says Carol Hebets, who has been working with Childhelp for 16 years.
She is the founding mother of the “Childhelp Wings” chapter, which focuses on implementing service projects and fundraisers that support the greater mission of Childhelp.
According to Childhelp, in the United States 5 children die each day as a result of abuse or neglect. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.
“It is heart wrenching to hear the stories. And to know that we are making a difference, it’s what it is all about,” Hebets says.
Providing a place where children in crisis feel safe and loved is a primary focus. Monies raised through fundraisers such as the annual Childhelp Wings Fashion Show https://www.childhelp.org/chapters/wings-chapter/ help expand programs like animal and art therapy along with crucial counseling services.
The sign you see upon entering Childhelp reads “All who enter here will find love.”
The need is overwhelming and urgent. Hebets says the Childhelp hotline 1-800-4-A-Child gets an average of 200,000 calls a year. The line is manned 24 hours a day with trained staff, many of whom are PhDs specializing in crisis situations.
And thanks to Childhelp, the “Speak Up Be Safe” program is now in schools across the country. It is a crucial component of the work being done — and the focus going forward.
“A lot of people don’t realize they were abused until long later in life,” Brown says. “The key is, the earlier the better. What Childhelp is doing is getting these kids the counseling and treatment they need right away.”
For more information on Childhelp you can visit www.childhelp.org