Every day thousands of children live as victims of child abuse and that includes a staggering number of kids right here in Bell County.
According to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, in 2020 alone they saw over 250,000 alleged victims of child abuse or neglect.
Close to 70,000 of those cases were confirmed and over 2,000 cases were in Bell County alone.
According to advocates for child abuse victims at CASA of Bell and Coryell Counties, the current number of active cases in Bell County is still way too high.
”The stats in Bell County are rather staggering," said Lolita Gilmore, a recruiter for CASA of Bell and Coryell Counties. "Now, when we look at the 146th and 52nd district family courts that deal with child abuse in their system we have about 1,100 cases.”
These numbers are why hundreds of people volunteer to help child abuse victims by becoming a CASA.
”A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate," said Gilmore. "It is what we call your premiere volunteer experience and why is that? You become the voice of that child. You become the voice of honestly, the entire family unit.”
CASAs like Lexie Davis are able to understand what these children are going through because she herself is a child abuse survivor. For Davis, the abuse started with her grandmother and other relatives when she was a child in the 1960s.
”They beat her up, and she beat us up, and we were getting beat up by them and her," said Davis. "Then the sexual abuse started from an uncle.”
It wasn’t long before she and the other kids were subjected to horrific acts such as being forced to fight each other to avoid beatings.
”We had to physically fight for their entertainment and the one that lost had to strip naked right and get beat with an extension cord," said Davis. "I have a brother whose back looks like he was a slave because he would let me win.”
Now close to 60 years later, Davis is a CASA and fights for children that suffer abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them.
She does so knowing that her experiences can help another victim of child abuse heal from all the scars left behind, both seen and unseen.
”I can talk to them from a point of view that’s not judgmental," said Davis. "I can understand them and I can offer them something that people who didn’t live through that can’t offer them.”
Davis survived child abuse at the hands of the people she called family and stands tall today with her message to the community.
“Don’t stay silent if you know or think a child is being abused because speaking out can do more than help, it can save their lives,” said Davis.