When I was 10 years old, I had a CASA volunteer here in Lane County. I can remember the day like it was yesterday.
I was sitting in my aunt’s kitchen as my mom hung up the phone with Child Protective Services. My stomach dropped as she told me that accusations of physical abuse were not enough to remove my brother and me from my dad’s home. My mom asked if there was anything else she should know about living with my father for the past seven years. I knew this was my opportunity to tell the secret I had held inside for so many years. With my head hung low, in a soft, quiet voice, I said to her, “Daddy touches me.”
She tried to fight back tears but there was no restraining them. I found myself holding her saying, “It’s alright Mommy, everything is going to be okay.” This was the beginning of a long road to recovery that I am still traveling today.
From the moment I told my mom about the abuse, I had an overwhelming support system fighting for me. One person in particular who was special to me was my CASA, Linda Drew. She not only advocated for me in court, she was also my friend, someone I could always count on to be there. No matter what was going on, I knew I would see Linda every week. She ate lunch at school with me and my brother, which in fourth grade was really cool. In such an adult situation, she gave me the opportunity to act like a kid and escape from what I was going through. I was always interested in going with my mom to court, and Linda made this possible by going with me and hanging out outside the court room. Sometimes she would peek inside and fill me in on everything that was going on.
Linda was also a major source of encouragement for my mom, who was raising two children by herself for the first time. She helped my mom get more involved with our school, get into parenting classes, and overall helped us become a family.
After the legal battle wrapped up, we began living pretty normal lives; it was time for Linda to move on to another child in need. Unfortunately we lost touch for some time, but the lack of contact over the years did not affect the bond I felt with her.
Linda & Brittany
The wonderful people of CASA were not only able to make miracles happen in my life as a child, but they also made it possible for me to reunite with Linda during their annual Casino Night fundraiser in February 2010. It had been twelve years since I had seen Linda, but it only took a glance to recognize her face. We spent the whole night playing poker, laughing about old times and catching up on missed years. That night, I spoke publicly about my story for the first time. I left feeling more empowered and proud of myself than I had ever felt. The opportunity to touch others’ lives with my experiences was the best night of my life.
I am very proud to tell you that I am not a statistic, that I have beaten the odds. I recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a psychology degree. I’m now working in a great marketing job in Portland. Although the future is a bit scary, there is no doubt in my mind that I am going places. I feel blessed to be where I am today. Although I am a very strong-willed woman, I could not have come this far without the support of my family, friends, and Linda.