DERBY, Conn. -- Every year, more than 3.5 million children are abused in the U.S. Many don’t know where to turn, but for some, help is coming to them, on wheels.
For years, Karen and her 9-year-old daughter, whose identity CBS News is choosing not to share, were abused by Karen's husband.
“It was terrifying when you can’t close your eyes at night to go to sleep because you don’t know what’s going to happen – it’s the unknown that you’re afraid of,” said Karen.
Fearing for their lives, Karen found help from an unlikely group of people: a 3,000-member organization committed to protecting children around the world. They call themselves BACA - Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“One thing we try and do as an organization is to help that child feel empowered so they can enjoy their childhood and grow up as an adult knowing that there’s always going to be somebody there and not all adults are bad,” said Happy Dodson, President of the Connecticut chapter, which is currently helping eight families across the state. BACA helps by stepping into the void left by an overwhelmed court system -- and by forming a cocoon of support around the abused child, pledging 24-7 protection. Each member goes through an extensive Federal background check and adopts child-friendly road names like Scooter, Shaggy and Pooh Bear.
“If the child has problems sleeping or getting on the bus or is afraid to go to school we’ll take you to school. When the bus drops you off, we’ll be there. We’ll take you home and if need be we’ll stay in that yard until you feel comfortable,” Dodson said.
The group also shows up to court appearances to let the abuser know that the child is a part of the BACA family.
For some of the members, the cause is personal; they too were abused.
“I’ve known a lot of kids when I was growing up that were under that umbrella of being afraid, nobody around to help,” Dodson said. “That’s why we’re here.”
As for Karen, she and her daughter feel a new found sense of comfort and protection.
“It was nice to know that all of these people were on her side. She had that backup, you know, and that she wasn’t alone,” Karen said.
BACA's motto is "no child deserves to live in fear." Because of them, this young girl no longer does.