Chapter 8

I read the name on the paper that Megan Schwartz, the C.A.S. intake worker, had given me; “Play and art therapist – Bradley Booth.” I dialed his number. A warm voice came on the line, “Hello, you’ve reached the Booth home. No one is available to take your call so please leave a message at the tone. If you are calling for Bradley, I’m sorry but I’m not taking on new clients. Have a good day.”

Caught off guard by his message I drew a blank and quickly hung up. Not taking new clients? But he has to. My daughter is too young to go to a clinical psychologist. I want her to get help from someone who can play with her. I want her to like being with a man and not transfer her fears to all males. I don’t want to frighten her anymore by taking her to some hospital where a cold person in a white jacket will psychoanalyze her.

I clutched my throat in distress. I picked up the phone again. Dear God, I need this.

The answering machine picked up again after four rings. “Hello, Mr. Booth? My name is Heather Williams. My daughter has recently disclosed that she has been sexually abused. I realize you’re not taking on new clients, but please make an exception.” I gave him my phone number, let out a breath and put the receiver down.

Just then, the phone rang. Really, could my prayer be answered that quickly?


“Hello, is this Heather Williams?”


“Hi, Heather. My name is Kathy Stammus. I’m the Social Worker from Children’s Aid Society assigned to your case.”

“I thought Megan Schwartz was.”

“No, no. Megan was the Intake Worker. I’m the Case Worker.”

“Oh, thank goodness.” I let that slip out too quickly. “Will we be meeting?” I asked before she could absorb my first comment.

“Yes. When is a good time for you?”

Wow, everyone else just told me when to meet. This woman is asking me. “I’m open tomorrow morning. Is this okay with you?” I asked.

“Let’s see…Friday. How’s ten?”

“That’s wonderful. Do I need to bring anything?”

“Just yourself. See you then.”

I let the air out of my lungs, whew. A small smile crept over my face and I gave a little spin in the room on my way to my daytimer. Blue-Casey took this as an invitation to play and ran sideways to get his favorite toy from under the couch. He brought the little stuffed monkey and dropped it at my feet. I threw it across the room and turned back to the telephone. Feeling strong, I dialed the play and art therapist again. Mr. Booth picked up after only one ring.

“Hello, Mr. Booth? It’s Heather Williams calling.”

“Yes, hello. Please call me Bradley.”

“Bradley. Hi, sorry to be bothering you but I need to see you. I mean my daughter does.” I caught my breath and continued, “Caitlin recently told a neighbor that her father sexually abused her. I don’t know where else to turn.” I had to stop and compose myself.

Bradley coughed. “As you know, I’m not taking on new patients.”

“Oh, Mr. Booth. I am utterly desperate. My daughter is only in kindergarten.” I choked back my tears.

“It was you who had left the message earlier, yes?” He paused. “In light of your daughter’s age, I’m willing to make an exception in this case.”

I let out my breath. “Oh, thank you.”

I could hear pages flipping. “I can meet with her this coming Monday at four. Is this okay?”

I leaned back in my seat, “We’ll be there. Monday, September 16 at four. Thank you.”

I held the receiver at arm’s length and studied it for a long moment before hanging up. There seemed to be a glimmer of hope in my dismal world.

Caitlin was still in bed so I filled up my coffee and decided to take this time to turn on the computer and do some research on abuse. I googled the words “sexual abuse” but 24,800,000 websites came up. I tried again with “child sexual abuse” and landed 8,390,000. I tried one last time and typed in “child sexual abuse + incest” and received 594 websites on this topic. A quick scan made my stomach sore.

I was shocked to see the number of resources and books written on the topic called the “secret trauma”. I learned that sexual abuse of children was far more prevalent than most people realize. At least 25% of the adult population of this country has been molested as children. 25% of girls were molested before the age of sixteen. At least twenty-seven million females were current or future adult survivors of child sexual abuse. That means that out of all those women sitting at the Women’s Coffee Break, twelve of them will have been abused.

I had no idea.

I gasped to read the next part. Incest was the most common form of child abuse.

I continued reading until I heard a small “ping” announcing I had email. I closed out the research page and opened up my emails. It felt like ages since I “talked” to friends on the Internet. I deleted all the junk mail and chain letters and responded to a few messages from close friends.

The last message I opened was from Janice. “Hi Sissy. I’ve been praying for you but I also wanted to “pray by email”, so you can read some of what I’ll be praying.

May Jesus fill you with unbelievable strength, and may justice not be thwarted.

I pray that truth will be evident,
and healing would be the testimony of your child.

I pray that bitterness would not settle in,
but rather that energy would be directed in a positive way.

I pray that out of your own heartache, heart healing would occur,
and you would come into a season of peace and rest

May Jesus protect the path you are to walk,
and may He direct your steps and those of your child,
so that beauty and joy will be the result of your suffering
and may this happen soon,
yes even immediately.

Dear Jesus, I call out to You with tears and anguish of heart
that You would rescue my sister and her child.

Please deliver them, and grant that justice would not be thwarted,
and even in Your display of justice, show mercy.

Let mercy be the testimony of Caitlin and Heather;
may they feel your love and mercy flowing through them –
make Yourself known, O God, I pray.


Janice continued in her message, “How can I express my love for you, Heather? Even as I write, I write through tears – I don’t have the words. I hope the spirit with which I’ve prayed will minister to you and Caitlin. Love Janice.”

I decided to print this email.

Taking a gulp of coffee, I leaned my chair back far enough to look out the window. Blue-Casey was splayed out on the windowsill. Over him, I could see the sparkle of the morning sun on the water. It looked like a lake of a million diamonds. I finished the last drops of coffee, turned off my computer and went to check on Caitlin.