TEXARKANA, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas abuse survivor is using her platform to spread a message of awareness during Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Allie Graves, 18, is a senior at Texas High School in Texarkana. She is also 2019 title holder of Miss. Texas’ Outstanding Teen.
“It completely changed my life," said Graves as she described to us her life after adoption. "I’m sitting here - and sometimes I’m like ‘is this really my life? Is this really my life?’”
Graves uses this part of her story during her philanthropic and service work across the United States. This month, she says she wants to shine a spotlight specifically on child abuse.
“95% of abusers are a family member,” said Graves during an interview with us on East Texas Now.
Graves explained during her infancy she was placed into foster care, because her family could not take care of her. She was placed with the Graves family in Texarakana for 17 months, but was eventually returned back to her biological family as a young toddler.
“There was a circuit judge who I don’t think looked over my whole situation, so I ended up being placed back with my biological family, and I entered into four years of abuse and neglect,” said Graves.
Following her second removal from her biological family, she was returned back to the family who she would eventually call her “forever family.”
Graves is now using the power of social media to encourage others to “walk a mile” in the shoes she once wore.
“We’re hoping to just get the conversation started,” said Graves. “I t’s healed me and it’s taught me so many things about kids who are still in that place and how we can still relate and heal together.”
“Each child who is in this situation is just one caring adult away from being a success story,” said Allie’s mother, April Graves. “She can be a voice that you can’t be and I can’t be because we haven’t lived it.”
With so many events being cancelled by COVID-19, the Graves’ tell us “Walk a Mile in their Shoes” was, in fact, inspired by the pandemic.
“With the virtual walk, we are honoring those social distancing guidelines, all while using social media to raise awareness on topics people may not know about,” said Allie.
“Just to keep it in front of the community that they need to check on the children that are in their circle of influence,” said April.
If you think a child is being abused or neglected, you can call the Texas Department of Family Services Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
If there is an emergency situation, officials urge you to call 911.