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A Call for Help Answered

It was just one phone call. But for Annie and her sister, it was the cry for help that saved their lives.

For years, Annie had suffered beating after beating at the hands of her stepmother. She hid the bruises from her friends at school because she was ashamed and afraid.

Her dad never did anything to stop the abuse. For Annie, that hurt even more than being hit.

That wasn’t even the worst part of life for the shy 13-year-old.

Annie had been sexually abused by a relative. She didn’t see him very often, but when he visited, she would hide under her bed, praying he wasn’t invited to stay the night.

Drug and alcohol use were routine at Annie’s house. She and her younger sister knew to stay out of the house when their parents were partying. Usually, that meant sneaking out a loaf of bread and some peanut butter so they would at least have something to eat. A few times, they ended up sleeping in the drafty garage.

Their house was a filthy mess, not really fit at all for two sisters who only wanted to live a “normal” life, like their friends.

But neither Annie nor her sister ever thought that was going to happen. Not unless a miracle came their way.

Then one night, after her stepmother had whipped her with a belt for spilling some milk, Annie decided she’d had enough. After everyone went to bed, she quietly slipped downstairs and took the phone with her into a closet. She dialed the number she had carefully memorized, a number she’d seen advertised on TV many times.

When a voice on the other end answered, “Boys Town National Hotline ®. How can I help you?”, it was all the teenager could do to hold back her tears. Finally! Someone who could help.

Annie hurriedly whispered her story to the Hotline counselor, telling him where she lived and what had been happening. When she hung up a few minutes later, she let out a quiet sigh of relief. The last thing the counselor said was that he would be contacting the authorities in her town.

The next few days were a blur for Annie and her sister. The day after her phone call, police and social services workers showed up at their house. Both girls were placed in foster homes, where caring families welcomed them with kindness, good food and clean sheets.

Eventually, both girls were adopted by the same local family. It was the miracle they had always prayed for, and they thrived in the safe, loving environment of their new home.

Months later, a letter arrived at the offices of the Boys Town National Hotline. It was from a young girl who wanted the counselors to know how much a single phone call had changed two lives. The girl just wanted to say thanks and let them know she and her sister were going to be okay.

It was signed, “Love, Annie.”

The stories provided about the children and families in our care are real. In some cases, names and details may be changed, and stock photos may be used, to protect their privacy and therapeutic interests.