Local organization working to put an end to child abuse

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of thousands of children across the country are abused by their parents and caregivers each year.

Donna Lloyd’s nieces were just 6 and 9-years-old when they became victims of physical and sexual abuse. “My oldest niece came forward and admitted that she had been sexually abused. It broke my heart, it was just very difficult to hear. I had suspected, but to hear the words come out of her mouth was horrifying.”

It’s a painful memory for Lloyd to talk about, but she courageously told her story in front of hundreds of people at the 18th Annual Child Abuse Awareness Breakfast on Friday. The Children’s Advocacy Center holds the breakfast every year, to try and raise awareness for child abuse, and prevent future cases.

Child abuse may be more common than you would think. The Northwestern District Attorney’s office investigated reports of more than 400 cases of child abuse in 2016, and charged more than 100 people with offenses against children.

Maureen McGuinness is a board member with the Children Advocacy Center. She told 22News the Children’s Advocacy Center allows abuse victims to only have to tell their story once, while health professionals and state agencies listen from a separate room. “Child abuse affects everybody in every community, and it’s a silent effect because people don’t always talk about it, but there’s any army of people behind the scenes who are actually working to end it,” she said.

Donna Lloyd said because of the CAC, her nieces have started to heal from one of the most traumatic experiences a child can go through.