Some Faces of Child Abuse and Success Stories


We currently have a beautiful 5-year-old girl coming in for counseling. She drags the giant stuffed Wells Fargo pony from the waiting room to the children’s therapy room, arranges it just so, sits down then tells the therapist come sit down next to me and we’ll talk. We told Kim Plemmons, our Board Member with Wells Fargo about this and she cried. The next day as I returned from lunch, two huge boxes were blocking the door – one was another Wells Fargo pony for our children’s therapy room and one was another pony for this special little girl to take home.


Photo credit: Sean MacEntee at

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee at

The third grader who raised her hand in our child abuse prevention/personal safety education program at a local school to disclose abuse so horrific that DSS and law enforcement rushed to the scene to immediately remove her from the sexually abusing parents. In essence our prevention program became an intervention in facilitating her disclosure and led to treatment as she came to us for counseling/therapy. She was later adopted by her foster parents and is doing well.


A 6-year-old girl who experienced sexual abuse who asks her mother every morning, “Do I have therapy with Miss Ilene today?” Counseling and CAPS has become such a significant, positive, and safe part of her young life. Due to the young age (and half of the children are under 6) this involves a lot of play, sand tray, and art therapy as ways for young children to express themselves that they couldn’t do in traditional talk therapy or trauma recovery therapy.


The 5-year-old girl from an affluent family, whose father’s best friend sexually abused her, then committed suicide.


The young mother who called us one Christmas Eve relating she was all alone, going through a divorce, and her 6-year-old daughter who had returned from a visit with the father and told her mom that he had sexually abused her. The mother didn’t know what to do – devastated, alone on Christmas Eve. Then she recalled hearing about 211. She called them, they referred to CAPS, we talked to her Christmas Eve, set up counseling the day after Christmas, and set up a child medical evaluation (CME) at Mission Children’s Center child abuse evaluation unit.


These kids have experienced something no child should have to experience, but the hurt has stopped, the hope and healing has begun, they have found a safe place at CAPS, and they can now live safe, healthy lives free from abuse, and have the opportunity to reach their potential.


We also get a lot of feedback from parents and teachers that children who have participated in our school-based Prevention/Personal Safety Education program have subsequently been able to employ the skills learned to avoid or get out of an abusive situation, and to feel safe and comfortable in disclosing.


Adult training, including Recognizing and Responding to Abuse, Stewards of Children, and Parent Education are also offered here at Child Abuse Prevention Services, Inc.


For information:, 254-2000, or

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker