Leslie Deen

I would like for you to imagine being a little girl, 7 years old. You have been coming to the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center for several months now for therapy.

You come into Leslie’s office for candy and let her tie your shoes. You ask Alaina for as many snacks as you can possibly get away with. Your younger siblings all come with you to the center each week. Ashley and Shelby always play games with them in the lobby while they wait. 

Mom sees Miss Kineta and you see Miss Amber in therapy. Last week, in therapy, you worked so hard that you earned “therapy bucks” and got to pick out special prizes. 

But today is a big day. Today you have to go a children’s hospital to have a SANE (sexual assault nurse examination). You are scared, you don’t know what to expect and you cry all the way to Fort Worth where the hospital is. Your mom encourages you the best she knows how but you still don’t want to go.

You pull yourself together the best you can, wipe the tears from your face, take a deep breath and walk into the big building. 

As soon as you walk into the waiting room you look up and feel an immediate relief. You see familiar faces smiling at you. They are your friends you see every week. Ashley, Shelby and Amber are there waiting for you. They are here to be with you while you are at the hospital to love and sup-port you. 

You get to meet Kitty, the facility dog. She’s a golden retriever. She makes things much easier for you. You, Ashley, and Shelby pet Kitty and take selfies with her. She stays with you until it’s time to go.

You ask Ashley if she can come in the room with you. 

“I’ll be right here waiting for you,” Ashley says.

Amber lets you know, “I will see you in a little while at the center. You are going to do great.” 

You know you are going to be OK. You are strong. You get the examination done and do a great job – you are so brave.

Today has been a big day but it is not over. When you get back to Waxahachie, you go to the center where all your friends are. They greet you with cupcakes to celebrate your bravery. They made special homemade picture frames for your pictures with Kitty. You get to make one in therapy too and take them all home with you.

Today you decide it is time to start talking about your abuse. 

“I want to talk about it,” you say.

This is the work of the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center. My team is changing the lives of abuse victims, every day. The relationship and trust that our team has with this child has taken months to build to help her feel safe. She is now at a place where she can do the hard work ... the heart work, the trauma therapy that will help her to recover and cope. The staff at the ECCAC are providing exceptional services to child abuse and sexual assault victims in Ellis County.

I hope that this story helps our community understand why it is so vital for us to have the community’s financial support. We ask for you to join our mission to provide Justice, Hope and Healing. 

Please visit our new website at www.elliscountycac.org, attend our Starry Night Gala on April 13 and find out how you or your business can partner with the ECCAC. 

Leslie Deen is the executive director of the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center. For more information about the center’s work, email ldeen@elliscountycac.org or call 972-937-1870.

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