Healing begins here

Steps taken to comfort victims of severe child abuse
Apr. 10, 2013 @ 05:36 AM

It’s the pleasantest-looking room that will ever haunt you.

Everything about it aims to soothe. The walls are robin’s-egg blue. A rainbow-hued kite hangs on one wall, its tail tacked up as though flying in the wind. Plush dolls line the window ledge. On the wall opposite the door stands a cabinet of rich, dark wood with glass-paneled doors. It looks like something from your grandmother’s house. On the cabinet’s top shelf rest several colorful, handmade quilts, child-sized.

Each child who walks into this room walks out with a quilt. It is the thought of the in-between time that makes adult visitors here weep or rush from the room.

No child enters the room without having first entered a hell of an adult’s creation. They wind up here only if they have suffered violent abuse, including sexual abuse. Since July 2011, out of 385 Caldwell County abuse cases that Robin's Nest Children's Advocacy Center has been involved with, about 80 children have been to this room. The youngest: 4 months old.

They will lie across a table in this room, and the damage will be tallied and measured.

But first, they talk. The examiner leads the child through the room, explaining what everything is. The child has to feel comfortable. The explanations come at the child’s pace.

And then, the quilts: The child is shown them and gets to choose one.

Whichever colorful, painstakingly stitched fabric the child chooses will be used rather than a hospital sheet to cover the child during the exam.

That is the image that haunts you – the child under the quilt on the examining table in the warm, blue room, an adult documenting the horrors.

Best not to think about the diaper-changing table and infant scales in the corner.