The Mom, the Advocate and the Power of Love

Posted on July 18, 2023

Several years ago, a case came to CAC through Internet Crimes Against Children from a tip about child pornography.

A short time later we learned that the individual was sexually abusing his daughters, who were three and four at the time.

It is exceedingly rare for a CAC client to tell their story publicly. The mother of these girls, Casey, came forward to share her story with Child and Family Advocate Jennifer Arnold on video. What you will read here is an excerpt from their conversation. You can view a video of the full conversation at the link below.

Jennifer: Going through this process is oftentimes kind of like the grief process. And sometimes, like you said, you didn’t really have a grasp of what was going on, probably because you were in shock. Talk a little bit about where you saw yourself in that process, in the beginning.

Casey: In the beginning, I had so much running through my head. How could I be a mom of three kids all by myself? How was I going to get through this? How can I try to think more clearly for them?

Because what had happened was very shocking to me, like you said. I mean, my whole world blew up. I felt loss and betrayal, mostly because I gave him children. I gave him the best gift you could give somebody, and he just ruined it. And I just felt completely alone, because this kind of thing only happens, you think, in movies. You don’t think it would ever happen to you or your kids.

Jennifer: Offenders often use manipulation and not only groom and manipulate children, but also their caregivers and that’s frequently moms. Can you tell me a little bit about how that looked for you and how he manipulated you into thinking that he was someone different?

Casey: He painted himself as this great father and someone who treated me like a princess, a queen…gave me gifts and stuff like that. He did treat me bad sometimes in front of the children, but he also would buy me things without me even asking or go shopping with the kids and let me sleep in, come home with this big breakfast and bouquet of flowers. He would give me money just to go shopping, go get some clothes. And when I had a long day with the kids or I didn’t feel good, he would bathe the kids. He would wake up early with the kids, so I could sleep in. He’d make sure that I was happy.

Jennifer: I think sometimes for caregivers, it’s not that they don’t believe what happened, it’s just that they can’t believe it right then. It’s just too overwhelming.

Casey: And it really was. I think I was just so overcome with sadness and betrayal, and I felt lied to, and I couldn’t process that this really happened. I mean, I heard it happened, and I heard people say it happened. I even heard him say that it happened, and I still, I couldn’t even picture that it could have ever happened because of how well he acted as being a father, how caring he was to the children.

Jennifer: Oftentimes when moms come to the Child Advocacy Center, because their child has had some type of victimization, their own trauma is triggered and comes up, and they may not have thought about it for a while or for years. And so not only are they having to support their children and be there for their children, but they’re having to relive their own trauma. Can you talk a little bit about how that played into your journey and your journey with your children throughout this process?

Casey: When I was about 12, I think, my mom remarried, and I never really liked the guy. And it’s not that he wasn’t good to us, but he always gave me weird feelings. My friends were telling me that he was messaging them on Facebook, sexual things, and I would go to my mom, and she never believed me. But he did end up touching my little sister inappropriately. She also told my mom, who didn’t quite believe her either.

The only time that she decided to believe us was when he got caught with child pornography on his work phone. And he was a police officer. He was sentenced about a week before my children’s’ father was, to 25 years. And I think growing up like that kind of affected things negatively for me on how to be able to recognize those types of things, especially when it’s someone so close to you and you’re so trusting.

You think that what’s important to you is also going to be super important to them, as well. And you’re hoping that he will protect his children just like you would protect your children. And I guess I got too caught up in the fact that this is their father, and he wouldn’t do that to them because who would, I mean, what parent would do that?

I wanted so bad for the kids to have a good dad because I never got one, and I never was close to my birth father or my stepfather. And I just was so hopeful that they had a good dad that I just couldn’t see any bad in him.

Jennifer: Can you talk about what our relationship has been like through this process? And what role has that played for you as time has passed?

Casey: Well, when I first came here, I had no clue who you were, but I think when I walked through the door, you gave me a hug. You took us back to a little room, and you just talked to me like normal. I think it really helped me relax. And you kept in contact with me, and I told my mom, “She’s my guardian angel.”

I remember coming to my house and seeing a box. And there was a coat in there, and I needed a coat. I was like, “Man, she didn’t have to do this.” I felt like you really understood what was happening. And you were there for me to talk to and to confide in about things that I was having trouble with and not just things about the kids. And you didn’t shut me  out because of the mistakes I made during this whole ordeal.

Jennifer: What would you like to tell someone that’s just starting out in this process of hearing a disclosure, learning this information about what maybe their children have gone through? What would you like to share with them?

Casey: I guess that it’s normal to feel confused and shocked and hurt…And it’s normal to almost feel nothing at all because you’re so shocked that you can’t even cry. But even though it’s hard in the beginning, as time goes by, the pieces just kind of start coming back together. And as it comes back together, you’ll get stronger and you’ll feel happier. And the more you reach out and the more connections you have, and support and family and love, it can get better faster.

Jennifer: Well, I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time, and you are a mom that I will never forget. You’ve been a gift to work with and to guide, and you’ve really changed my life, too.

Casey: You changed mine because out of all this crummy stuff that I’ve been through, you’ve always been one of the best parts. You have just been this, I guess, beacon of light in all of this and just really helped me get through it even when I didn’t think I could.

Jennifer: I’m sorry that our paths crossed because of this situation, but with everything that you have done and the growth that you’ve shown, your children are going to be okay. There’s so much hope, and you’re going to just be a gift for the world because of what you’ve endured. I guess the joy and sorrow of this situation is your perseverance and your tenacity. And so, thank you.

At CAC, approximately 5% of our cases move forward to prosecution. Nationally that number is 3 to 5%. The children’s offender was sentenced to 65 years early in 2022.