Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center is a place where children and youth who have experienced sexual and other types of violence go to tell their truth to people who will listen and believe them. As I absorb the events of the past few months and reflect on the many examples of violence affecting the Black community in our nation, my heart aches in recognition of the parallels to what we see here every day.
I think of the people I am surrounded by daily – a great many of my work colleagues, clients, and neighbors are people of color. Being a white woman, and one in a position of power and authority, I am obligated to recognize my privilege and ensure I am reflective of how all of these people in my life experience the world much differently than me. I must think – how can I do better? How can I use my position to ensure we are recognizing this layer of oppression and its effect on the daily lives of so many children who are impacted by sexual harm as well?
I think also about the layers of challenges faced by our young Black and Brown victims and their families. Already encumbered by unconscious (or intentional!) bias, they face hurdles that persons in the dominant culture do not. When you layer that on top of victimization and trauma, the healing process becomes more of an obstacle course than a straight line toward restoration.
What allows me to lift my head above the despair, is knowing that here at Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, we are fighting against injustice — even if we aren’t always winning. Our multi-disciplinary team is, by design, a self-challenging organism to check our assumptions, push through the natural stereotypical frameworks, and force ourselves to be introspective. We will use this crisis to dig deeper, to understand better, to work harder.
ChicagoCAC is an essential provider, and we remain open for the children and families who need us. Collectively, we will do what we do best, work together, case-by-case, advocating for our children, helping to bring their perpetrators to justice, and begin the healing process.
–Char Rivette, CEO, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center