Randolph County to open Child Advocacy Center

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Tammy O'Kelley says the abuse started when she was very young.

“There was a lot of that, that went on for a lot of years and then ultimately there was what I would call an attack,” O’Kelley said.

From ages 5 to 16, O'Kelley was sexually abused.

“Some of my earliest memories are of waking up in a bedroom and having my top pulled up,” she said.

When her parents found out, they took the steps to get her help. But, it wasn't easy.

“The process was very difficult,” she said. “And, I don't think that's changed very much.”

O'Kelley who's now 49 is supporting a project which she hopes will make it easier for children who've been sexually assaulted to get help.

“This advocacy center is only going to help with that,” she said.

Next year, the Randolph County Family Crisis Center in Asheboro plans to open its child advocacy center.

O’Kelley is a member of The Randolph County Strategic Implementation Committee which recommended that county leaders fund the project.

Victims will get forensic and medical exams, therapy, case management and go to support groups all in one building.

“Everything could start and begin in one place where they would have an advocate, where they would build a relationship with everybody involved in the process," said Dare Spicer, executive director of the Family Crisis Center.

Spicer says children who are sexually assaulted in the county have to go to Winston-Salem or Chapel Hill for certain resources. And sometimes, there's a wait.

"A lot of them just give up, because it's too hard,” Spicer said. “It's just too hard."

On Monday, county commissioners approved $100,000 in funding to remodel the building which will be used as the advocacy center.

“This could mean everything to those families,” Spicer said. “It could have meant everything to my family.”

The child advocacy center is expected to open by Jan. 1, 2018.