Viewer Discretion Advised: Content is not suitable for younger audiences.
During the month of April, we strive to bring awareness of child abuse in our own community and provide ways for our local citezens to get involved. The phrase “child abuse and neglect” can often feel like jargon words. Understanding that these words can mean physical harm, neglect of food or shelter, being a witness to violence, being exposed to drug use is just a start in helping to paint the picture of what abuse really means.
During CASA training, we go a step further to really prepare our volunteers for the trauma the children they will be adovocating for experience. Included in the training curriculum is the presentation of a 4 minute 911 call from an incident that actually happened. The call is from a 6 year old girl who has taken it upon herself to call 911 because her stepfather is beating her mother in the other room. She’s there with her 4 year old sister and newborn baby brother, who she fears is going to be hurt by her stepfather. There are blood curdling screams followed by periods of silence. She tells the dispatcher that he is drunk and threatening to hurt the baby, who she describes as “a newborn who is very delicate”. The strength and maturity of Lisa is a true testament to the strength and resilience of children. As the tension builds, and Lisa decides to leave the safety of her room to check on her little sister, who she says has been knocked to the floor. The horror is visceral and the sense of releif when it is over is all too real.
Hearing that 911 call in CASA training can be horrifying. The sheer terror and panic in this little girl’s voice would move even the most stoic person to tears and has everyone wishing it for it to end. It’s only 4 minutes but it feels like an eternity. CASA trainees process their emotions after listening to the recoding and often state that they are thinking, “It will be over soon. The tape will end and we will discuss our reactions. The class will end and we’ll all go home to our regular lives.” Volunteers often cry and some can connect to this story on a personal level.
Sadly, for so many children, that just isn’t an option. It’s not over in 4 minutes, and not knowing when it will be can be devastating. Lisa’s story is horrific; but it’s not unique. We come across a lot of stories that are hard to hear. Some keep us up at night, but others keep us going, and remind us of just how brave and resilient the survivors of childhood trauma and abuse can be.
It is with great caution we provide the link to this training clip. If you would like to hear the 911 call, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of the Lisa recording.