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Child Abuse Prevention with Allie Graves

April is the advocacy of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and is used to raise awareness and the matter of child abuse in American homes. As an advocate to this cause year-round, Allie Graves is not only a supporter, but a survivor. Through her years of abuse and neglect, she turned these times of difficulty into a life of love. 

Photo Credit: Graves Family

         Graves is currently 16 years old and grew up in the East Texas town of Texarkana. As a high school student, she juggles growing up, making good grades, and extracurriculars like dancing, vocal lessons and competing in pageants – all while being an advocate for child abuse.

         “I always grew up around an understanding environment. All of these things happened to me, and it was almost like word vomit to speak to others. It was therapeutic. I sort of jumped into it [pageants], and it was not hard to pick a platform, it was obvious,” Graves said in an over-the-phone interview. A platform in pageants is a specific cause the person feels connected to and will find ways to support and volunteer in relations to their platform. Graves personal platform is “What Love Can Do.”

         Annually, seven-hundred thousand children are abused in the U.S. Each case is unique, and our court system does not always allow an easy trial. In Graves’ case, she was not permanently settled into her forever family home until she was five years old. Ironically enough, the Graves family home is about a mile from where she received nearly four years of abuse.

         Using this platform, Graves has over spoken to over 15 thousand people of all ages about child abuse. She racks up over 750 volunteer hours, all towards the cause. “As someone who has gone through that, I want to make that a motivation,” Graves says, and has set her mind to closing the gap on child abuse awareness and prevention.

Photo Credit: http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse

         Graves works with CASA in the East Texas region as well as the Dallas area, and has her own community service project: Healing Hearts Blanket and Teddy Bear Drive. This offers support and love given to the children of her area. 

         When speaking about her family, Graves says “They are the people who advocated for me, and that is the reason I am so confident in this.” Her parents, April and Mark Graves, completely support her in every way. April Graves is also on board of the organization For the Sake of One, which advocates for the foster care community in the Texarkana area. Overall, the family is very passionate about this epidemic in the United States.

         For Allie, she wants to be break the stereotype associated with those who grow up in and overcome child abuse. “There is a lot of stereotypes, like if you are abused that you will abuse later. For me, I had a very safe environment, and I was not like that. I was just beginning my life and all of that had happened … I was given an amazing, blessed deck of cards in my life.” 

         For more about Allie Graves story, check out http://txktoday.com/news/allie-graves-love-can/

I am a student at Stephen F. Austin State University, and I am an intern for the Her Campus - SFA Chapter. Check out what I have been writing! 
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