FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — For more than 20 years, the Davis House Advocacy Center has helped children and families affected by child sexual and physical abuse.

Brent Hutchinson is the Executive Director. He explained the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted children in a disturbing way.

“What we’re seeing is more severe abuse because the level of stress in homes is higher. That’s not an excuse for child abuse, but it does lend itself to the increase we are seeing,” Hutchinson said.

The Davis House serves children and families in Williamson, Lewis, Hickman and Perry Counties.

“Those kids come to us because of an allegation of abuse and our job is to interview that child in a way that is child-friendly, child-appropriate, but also forensically responsible. Which means we gather their evidence for court, and the hope is that they will only have to tell their story one time,” Hutchinson says.

He explained these resources are mandated by the government.

“So every county in Tennessee is served by a child advocacy center just like Davis House, but we are not funded by the state or the federal government,” Hutchinson said. “Really about only 30% of our funding comes from the government the rest we have to find.”

That is why their annual “Button Ball” black-tie gala, which takes place this Saturday at the Homestead Manor in Thompson Station, is critical to the cause, and the need is great as the ball has been delayed for 18 months due to COVID-19.

“We are featuring gold medalist gymnast Ali Raisman as our speaker who unfortunately is a survivor of sexual abuse. Her story of strength and resilience is one we really hope to inspire our audience with,” Hutchinson says.

All the money raised from the ball, and from the silent auction online — which is open to everyone — goes directly into helping children heal.

“It cost us about $1,500 a year to serve one child. This past year, the Davis House served 557 new children. That doesn’t count the kids that we were already in process with,” Hutchinson says.

That’s a total cost of more than $830,000 to help the most precious among us get the help they need.

“We all have a responsibility to protect all of our kids.”

To purchase tickets to the Davis House Button Ball, CLICK HERE. For a look at the silent auction items, CLICK HERE.