GAINESVILLE, TX- April is child abuse and sexual assault awareness month and Cooke County is one step closer to helping the youngest victims.
When a child in the county makes an outcry of abuse they have to go to a children's advocacy center in another county for forensic interviews.
The drive can be long and traumatic.
That is precious time Abigail's Arms is hoping to get back when they add their own Child Advocacy Center or CAC.
"Having those services here and being able to provide them immediately at the outcry is extremely important for us to be able to help them move forward and become stronger to help them be able to maneuver through the whole system," Ginger Johnson, director of victim services, said.
On April 1st the center signed a Memorandum of Agreement with local entities including the Gainesville Police and Cooke County Sheriff.
"It's essential because the community is small and for our smallest victims to be able to see their leadership they see their judges, they see their law enforcement basically stepping forth and saying we're going to help you get better," Kim Cook, executive director, said.
Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips said the center will help them solve cases.
"Its going to be a good asset to assist us with these investigations in the future," he said.
Abigail's Arms is also working to get people talking about child abuse and sexual assault
"We do want people to understand that not only is this a horrendous act but it's one that's happening in out community," Cook said.
Cook says the county sees about 3 to 4 cases of child abuse a month.
"Major stigma that we always here is that it doesn't happen here, that can't possibly happen here, not my next door neighbor, not my church member," she said.
There are several things you should look for if you suspect a child may have been abused including a change in their behavior.
"That shift from the way they normally are should be a clue that you need to look into what's going on, Johnson said.
Today alone 185 Texas children will be victims of abuse. Nationwide,One in ten children are sexually abused, and 90 percent of the time they know their abuser.