WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - April is Child Abuse Prevention month and there are many reported cases here in Texoma.
Many of those victims were moved to new homes with caring families.
Child advocate group CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) helps children through the healing process with duffle bags of hope for a better future.
They helped child victims of abuse move into homes with loving families. They said the trauma children suffered can be long lasting.
"There are issues with abandonment, issues with anger and frustration," Hannah Fryer CASA Wichita Falls Program Director said.
There are ways to prevent abuse by identifying and reporting any suspected abuse early. Fryer said there are signs to look out for like bruising along a child's abdomen or bottom. She said most children get bruised along their knees and arms but the soft-tissue bruises should raise alarms. Especially if they're not aware how it got there or if they only say 'I fell.'
Children are reluctant to report their abuse because often times they are told by their abuser that 'bad tings will happen to them. The children need to know they can trust an adult if they decide to tell them the sensitive information.
CASA members said as an adult they need to let the child know it's not their fault and tell the child exactly what they are going to do next.
"Tell them I care about you tremendously and because of that, I have to make sure you're okay. and here are the things I'm going to do to make sure you're okay,'" Fryer said. "So, they aren't blindsided or you don't lose that credibility that trust."
Even though it won't please them.
"You're going to start what they perceive to be a very scary and dangerous process of the investigation of child abuse," Fryer said.
Other signs of abuse are children who suddenly have trouble sitting or walking or extreme fear of being alone with adults of a certain sex.
Children find it difficult to get closure after years of abuse like a 10-year-old girl who had to raise children younger than herself.
"She's been caring for her sibling, her younger siblings, as a result of substance abuse from her caretakers," Fryer said.
CASA and Child Protection Services helped move the girl and her siblings to a home with caring parents.
"She's been given the opportunity to live with relatives who are allowing her to experience childhood as a 10-year-old girl should," Fryer said.
Many of the victims that are moved from their home don't have much. They put their stuff in trash bags which can traumatize them but CASA provided them with duffle bags.They are called 'bags of hope' and contain items like toothbrushes, toys, and pillows that bring a feeling of normalcy to the children.
The young girl and other victims have a new home, new stuff and Fryer said she hopes to give them a new future.
"It's always difficult to let go of knowing that your parents didn't love you enough or didn't want to work hard enough to get you back."
It is the first year CASA had put together these bags of hope and all the items are donated. It only takes $30 dollars to bring a smile to the children's faces.
There are several Texas abuse hotlines and websites you can call to report about a child you suspect is being abused. But if the child is in imminent danger, Fryer said dial 9-1-1. Texas Abuse Hotline: 1-800-252-5400