"Have you ever had love?" 

I will never forget this question, or the young girl who asked it, as long as I live. This girls story and cry for real love will never leave me.

My time as a sexual assault detective was simultaneously the most rewarding and the most haunting work I have ever done. I worked this investigative spot for three years but it aged me ten. The countless women and children who had been taken advantage of in the most intimate ways and in settings that most of us consider safe harbors, still have a hold on deep places in my heart.

On this particular afternoon I was attending a forensic interview of three small girls who had been abused at the hands of their maternal grandfather.   Their biological mother had passed away as a result of certain lifestyle choices and they had been legally adopted by their mothers parents. The father had repeatedly harmed them. During the course of my investigation I learned that the adoptive mother/grandmother had adopted them to facilitate her husbands disgusting perversion.

The oldest sister was around 16 at the time of this interview and for the majority of the interview she sat there quietly.  She pulled her sweatshirt hood over her head, the strings pulled tight, always looking down, hiding her face at all times and barely speaking. Suddenly something sparked this young lady's mind and in one genuine, broken, searching moment she looked straight at the interviewer and asked, "Have you ever had love?" The interviewer paused and I could hear her heart break wide open from the other side of the one-way glass partition I was observing from.

The young lady continued, "I've never had real love and want to know what that feels like."

How does this sort of thing happen? I wanted to rush into that room and wrap her in my arms and spend a lifetime showing her the meaning of real love. I also wanted to rush right out and demolish every adult who had failed this girl and had preyed upon her innocents. My heart still cracks in places every time I recall her face, her posture, her words.

Its been many years since I worked that case and I am unsure what happened to these precious souls. I pray they were given a real home and that young woman found what she wanted most in life.

I am a firm believer in Christ and his redemptive love but I still struggle sometimes with the "why" innocent children are allowed to suffer so much.  I am looking forward to the day when God's tapestry is revealed and I know how this story played out.

What will you do?

Until the day when there is no more of this type of suffering, we must find ways to stand in the gap for these precious ones and show each other real love. Have you read this story and wondered what you can do to make a difference in situations like this one? You can become a mentor, a foster parent, a social worker or a police officer or a school teacher. You can volunteer in a womens prison or homeless shelter or become a victim advocate. Or maybe none of those things. The simplest way to make a difference is to find a place where love needs to be lived out and do it.