To be young, 21-year-old Charlie Horton has had a very successful career so far playing soccer.
“I decided to forgo college and play professionally, and I spent the last three seasons in England playing in the championship and premier league,” Horton said.
He now plays major league soccer back here in the states, but before all his great success, Horton had a dark past that most people don’t see.
“My sister and I grew up in England. My parents got divorced and we were both abused as young children,” Horton said. “It was violent, it was difficult…I didn’t tell my friends about, I didn’t tell people about, and I kind of kept it hidden.”
He said his father, who at that time was a priest, was relentless in his abuse and he and his sister being so young made things all the more difficult to get help.
“You can’t expect a 5 year old to put his hand up in the air and say I have an issue, and you feel trapped…this is a person that usually is supposed to be taking care of you…and their doing the opposite,” said Horton.
His story is among the six million stories that occur each year.
“The impact of child abuse is devastating, and most children do not get help like therapy when they’re young," said Linda Johanek, CEO at the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, who also advocates for victims of abuse through her work.
“We provide both crisis intervention for those who need immediate help as well as long term. Our society needs to invest more resources, but also we need to do an awareness campaign.”
And that’s where Horton and his family found refuge and help from their situation.
“We’ve been helped by such great people that deserve the recognition for what they did,” said Horton.
There’s now a special rec room at the facility dedicated to Horton’s family and story of overcoming. He told me, he hopes by sharing is story, he can let others like him know, there ‘is’ a way out.
“It’s not something I’m afraid to talk about because, my family’s so much better off. It does get better, but what’s really, really important is that you get the help you need.”
A civil protection order was issued by Ohio courts for Horton and his sister against their father years ago. And with April being child abuse awareness month, the domestic violence and child advocacy center will be holding multiple events throughout the month to raise awareness on this issue.