At the CAC
Yesterday didn’t begin smoothly. Vale didn’t want to get out of bed. I’m sure he was trying to avoid having to go to the CAC. Although it was important, it was difficult getting food in him. I can’t imagine the level of anxiety he was experiencing. I try to empathize, but I know my attempts are futile.
When we actually got the the building he was in a better head space, but after signing in, he didn’t sit near me nor talk to me. Understand, I don’t hold this against him. This had to be one of the most difficult mornings of his life. Soon he would have to go into a room and tell a forensic investigator all the secrets he’s been holding for the past 6 years, knowing that who knows how many more people will be viewing your testimony via a video camera? Who wouldn’t want to climb a wall with a situation like that? Shortly, the investigator came to greet him and her demeanor seemed to set him more at ease. Before he went to the interview room he came to sit with me and let me hug him and pray with him. I even got a smile.
He seemed to be upstairs in the interview room for a very long time, although I doubt in reality it was the space of 30 minutes. I tried to spend the time considering Psalm 16 and praying for him. I prayed that God would loosen his throat and enable him to say the words that are so hard. I prayed that God would give him peace and comfort and he would feel strength. I prayed that God would give him clarity to remember things with as much detail as possible. I prayed that God would pour His grace upon Vale.
If your child has the need to go to a Children’s Advocacy Center, let me tell you a little about the ‘routine’ how we experienced it.
- We signed in
- We were greeted by a few people including the receptionist and the forensic interviewer
- Vale was taken to the interview room where there was a video camera and microphone to capture his testimony. In another room there was a pediatrician, the director of the CAC, an investigator from the regional office of CYS and a state trooper. By having all these necessary parties view the video, Vale was able to make his disclosure once, eliminating the need to retell his story time and again. This helps preserve the accuracy and integrity of the testimony and it is far less traumatizing. In other cases, an ADA may also be in attendance, as well as other CYS representatives.
- After Vale’s testimony, they brought him downstairs and occupied him with activities and snacks and asked me to come upstairs. When I met with the interviewing team they gave me an overview of how they thought the questioning went, some counsel and advice and told me what would happen next. The advice wasn’t anything that we weren’t already doing but it was reassuring to have the reinforcement.
- After this Vale was given a physical exam and had blood and urine samples taken. This exam was really to see if there was anything that perhaps Vale felt he couldn’t reveal and the samples were to test for any possible sexually transmitted diseases. If the assault was more recent, they would be looking for any evidence that they could collect. And since the ADA and law enforcement would already be there, the chain of evidence would be in tact.
- The trooper then met with Vale and talked with him a little (small talk) and gave us a booklet on victim services etc, that had the case number as well as the trooper’s phone and badge number.
- After this the CAC can either provide you and your child with or set you up with therapy services.
- There is no fee for these services.
The investigative team thought Vale did a fantastic job, that they didn’t feel he was holding anything back (Praise God). They don’t think there is anymore information for him to give (Praise God). The investigator thought that he was layered in a profound amount of shame. Oh if the shame were an outer skin that I could slough off. If it were a demon I could excise. If it were a cancer that we could cut out. We can tell him a million times that he has nothing to be ashamed of. He could have walked right up to his perp and said, “please have sex with me” and that would not put a speck of dust on him. But he lacks the ability to hear that right now.
A kicker, the trooper told me that although he can call and ask the perp to come in for an interview, he can’t compel him to. The trooper can’t make the perp come in and answer to these charges. However, by law, Vale had to come in and be questioned. Wow. Where is the justice in that?? Then the trooper really has to try to secure some type of confession out of the perp, otherwise this is going to go no where. But I’m not naive, I didn’t expect more. God will deal with the perp. And when you deal with God, well let’s just say, there will be Hell to pay.
Vale was quiet pleased to meet the trooper. They shared some fun small talk as the trooper related that he had actually studied at Temple University to become an illustrator. So perhaps if there is more to this case, this foundation will help in the future.
Vale was in a far different mood when we left. I was so glad to see the relief in him. In fact he gravitated so far the other way, we needed to leave the cafe we were at because he was a little over the top. But I would rather a little bit of that than the shut down.