Suffer in silence no more.
Not many people know about them, but there is an organization of men and women around the globe stepping into the darkness to bring our children back to safety and happiness. BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) is an international group devoted to protecting and helping children who have suffered abusive relationships, often at the hands of people they should have been able to trust.
BACA members are dedicated to empowering child abuse victims and helping them feel strong enough to live full, productive lives as they grow up. Members will take the child to school, escort them to court, even stand outside their house all night long if that's what it takes to make them feel safe and protected. The children become part of the BACA family, and are able to rely on the knowledge that no matter what else happens, there will always be someone who has their back.
We spoke with several members of BACA chapters from across the country to hear what they had to say about the amazing work they do. For the sake of safety and anonymity, BACA members go by their road names.
YourTango: How do you get connected with a child that needs your help?
Most of the time it's from the child's parents or guardians. We are blessed in our area in that we have been here for almost 14 years and are well known. We also have several other organizations that point people that need our help in our direction. - Nine ½, Vice President, Western Oklahoma
We have several ways that we can get connected with a child that needs our help. Our State Attorney General had seen us help with previous cases and now they refer cases to us as well. They give our information to the cases that may need a little more support in the courtroom. We continually visit the local agencies that deal with children as the turnover is very high and we want to keep BACA in the forefront of their minds. Sometimes it is as simple as the family looking online and finding our website and calling the helpline. - Krewzer, Child Liaison, Kansas Chapter
Are you asking from the standpoint of referrals? Or are you asking more from the perspective of connecting with the child when we meet? I'm going to answer as if it's the latter. I greet the child with a warm smile and empathetic (but not sad!) eyes. I always make sure they are standing taller than I am, so I often sit or crouch to be a little under their eye level. I call them by their chosen road name and start a conversation with something innocuous - like asking them if they like riding their bike, playing with some sort of favorite toy (Legos, clay, video games), or if there is a sport they enjoy. Depending on their reaction, I will tell them a funny story about myself that involves the topic at hand; if they are non-specific about what they like to do or it's obvious that it's a fruitless tact, I might ask what they'd like to have on their vest, and point to some of the things on my own vest or items on another BACA Member's vest. I encourage them to touch my back patch, as it's part of letting them know I'm one of their extended family and a crucial part of teaching them how to identify BACA Members. - Lucy, International Secretary
YT: Why did you personally become involved with BACA?
Child abuse is, unfortunately, an epidemic in the world. Sadly, there are very few agencies or organizations that truly help the children of abuse. If a child is too scared to testify against their abuser then there is no hope for the child that their nightmare will ever end. That's were BACA comes in. We empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We give them their lives back. Getting involved was a no-brainer once I found out what the organization was really about. - Nine ½
I personally became involved with BACA because I had some friends that lived close by that were involved at the time. Initially I didn't attend many meetings or events but once I heard how the kids were affected, I started going to everything that I possibly could. Knowing what these kids have gone through and that they have to go to court to testify against their perp and knowing that I can be there to help them through that just by giving up some of my personal time. I will do it every possible time that I can. The other really cool thing about being in BACA is being able to ride my bike with all my brothers and sisters. That is truly an added bonus to doing what we do. I can go anywhere in the country and know I can show up to any other chapter and be welcomed with open arms. – Krewzer
Wanting to help children has always been close to my heart. And I want to stop or be a part of stopping their pain and letting them know there are good people in this world. And I hate bullies and what they get away with. [I] want[ed] to help stop that also from happening anymore in a little one's life. - Slim, President, Midlands Chapter
I originally got involved for two reasons: one was because I (along with my late husband) were looking for something/someone to ride for/to make a difference for all the time, not just a few times a year (like annual rides for March of Dimes or the City Union Mission ride for the homeless). The second reason is that my own child was abused when she was just a baby, and I felt like there was much more I could have done to 1) prevent the abuse and 2) advocate for justice for her; I didn't want a child or a parent/guardian to live with the guilt that plagues me every day of my life. - Lucy
I was very fortunate to come from a very strong and loving family. Being a military brat I had friends who were abused and no one was there to listen or help. I made myself a promise one day I would try to see what I could do to make a difference and I have truly found my place. - Happy, President, Connecticut Chapter
I worked at a local hospital and took care of an infant who was murdered by the father. After that event I had to do something to try and stop this from happening to another child. The day after the event I went to a motorcycle dealership and meet members of BACA. and decided as a biker here was my chance. - Bear, New Hampshire Chapter
YT: Do you have any success stories that you are particularly proud of?
Too many to count. When you roll up to a house on our first visit and see a child that is too scared to even come outside because of what was done to them, and later see that child sitting on a witness stand in court pointing their abusers out for the judge ... that's how you know what we do works. When a child can do that, we know we helped give them back their lives. - Nine ½
There are so many it is difficult to pick just one. I think the biggest thing I am proud of is that I have been in BACA long enough know that some of the kids are now older teenagers/adults and have contacted me, thanking me for what I did to help them get through their situation. They remember how you made them feel and will want to pay it forward. - Krewzer
We had to escort a child out of court house past her abuser and his family. She was terrified and crying. We surrounded her and told her 'here we go'. We acted as a shield for her. When we got to the car she was laughing and asked can we do that again. - Bear
I was the Primary Contact for a teenage girl whose life had ground to a halt after suffering abuse at the hands of the man she considered her step-father. An aspiring athlete, she'd stopped taking part in the sports that had been her routine since she was old enough to hold a bat, throw a ball, etc. When we first met, she stared at the ground a lot, spoke very little, and was obviously riddled with guilt (even though nothing that happened to her was her fault). I spoke with her, as did my fellow BACA Brothers and Sisters, and without being pushy, asked if she'd like to toss a ball around in her backyard. She declined the offer and I let it drop. On our second visit, after the general 'hello and how are you doing', I again asked if she'd like to play catch; I admitted that I wasn't very athletic and suggested she could help me become better at throwing/catching ... this time she said 'sure' and for just a few minutes I saw a spark in her eyes. When I complimented her on her technique, a genuine smile of accomplishment spread across her face. As visits continues continued we became more like family than acquaintances, and talking about sports or playing ball became part of each visit. When we were readying her for court, I used some sport analogies to help her understand what would take place. The day of court, while still a bit frightened and overwhelmed by the process, she sat with a straight back and eyes focused in the courtroom. Clenching the hands of her mother and her best friend, I sat just behind her and to her right so that she could easily glance over her shoulder at me. She testified and the perpetrator was sentenced to the maximum time in prison. The young lady that walked out of the courthouse that day was smiling and never once looked at the ground; she held her head high with confidence. Fast-forward just a few months after that day in court - she sent me a text to tell me she'd made the varsity team at school (even though she was a sophomore) and was ready to 'kick ass and take names'. Now a senior, she's being scouted by at least 3 colleges. Her dream is alive again - that is the definition of success! - Lucy
Brother, anytime I can help a child in my heart it's a success story! - Dogg, President, West Virginia
YT: If you could say one thing to a child in pain, what would it be?
I can't say that it will ever get easier or that the pain will go away. But I can say that I have your back and will be there as much as I can to help you along your path. You are part of the BACA family and we are here for you. - Nine ½
I would say, I know it doesn't seem possible right now but you can get through this. We are all here to help you in anything that you might need. You will be proud of who you will become after this is all said and done. – Krewzer
Don't be afraid! We are here for you at 2pm or 2am, 24-7, 365 no matter what! - Khaos, State President, New Jersey
I would say, you may not know me now but from here on out I will always be there for you. - Happy
You are not alone - we are going to help you through this (I never say just one thing, so it was difficult for me to select a single sentence!) – Lucy
We are here, you're Family and we got your back. Bikers don't let Family down. - Bear