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Beyond the Classroom

The Adventures of a PLUW Student-Intern

Julie Butler


When I reached out to Karen Walker about working as her intern in my time left at Illinois College, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. From my understanding of past interns’ work, I knew that some focused on social media marketing and some did work like a newsletter. Everyone had a skill set that Karen was able to utilize to advance the organization. When asked what I wanted to focus on for the semester, I answered as any eager learner would: I wanted to do everything done previously, but I also wanted something to call my own. That brings us here: The Adventures of a PLUW Student-Intern. In the course of these articles, I will be visiting organizations within the community that the Prairieland United Way has affiliations with to learn more about the history of the organization, how it’s ran, and how the organization has helped the community.

Up next on our voyage is the Children’s Advocacy Center, I met with Jamie Peek and got a behind the scenes look at services that the CAC offers. There are numerous resources that are offered to not only the children that are victims of abuse, but also to families of the victims. DCFS, law enforcement, the state’s attorney office, and mental/medical health representatives all work together for cases of children’s abuse and neglect. Jamie herself will often stay as advocate for the family through any investigations that occur. She calls herself the “middle person,” as she communicates to the family what different resources are available to the family and the victim of the abuse. The main goal through this process is for there to be the least amount of trauma as possible for the child. It can be hard for a child to tell the same, awful story 10 times in a row, so Jamie lessens that pain by advocating for the child when she needs to. A case that shows how serious these services are occurred around two years ago. Involved in the situation were a 15-year-old (F), 12-year-old (M), and 10-year-old (F). Both of the girls were being sexually abused by their step-father. He would take them to hotels and make them perform sexual acts on each other. The youngest daughter experienced a lot of anger during this time and even had to be hospitalized because of the trauma of the experience. The oldest daughter was also very traumatized, but she had formed an emotional attachment to the step-father and saw him as a boyfriend figure. She was able to recognize that what he was doing with her younger sister and what the sisters were doing together was wrong, but she believe the relationship formed between herself and him was okay. It took almost 2 years to get through the court process, and after it was over the girls required intense therapy. Jamie felt deeply about the situation of this case and felt it was important for people to realize that these processes take a long time to overcome and there are usually lasting affects on the children who are abused or neglected.

Although it can be hard to acknowledge that there is necessary use for services such as these, it is pertinent to know these organizations are available in Jacksonville for anyone who may be in need.





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