SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — Kadden Abbott usually wears a smile on his face — a smile that hides a difficult past.
"Some people keep it in so much, you never see them smile," Kadden said. "They never laugh."
Kadden is a survivor.
His father beat him for years — Kadden often volunteering to take the brunt of the beatings to protect his little brother. Kadden took the stand at his father's 2014 trial at just 9 years old.
A judge ultimately issued an order of protection barring Kadden's father from contact. In that order, the judge ruled his father 'has or is likely to abuse or endanger' during visitation.
Kadden now uses his trauma to fight for others. While most kids spent their spring breaks with their faces in their phones or in front of a TV, Kadden spent his lobbying lawmakers to reform the Department of Children and Family Services.
"The [caseworker from DCFS] said we should be lucky because we were only getting abused every other weekend instead of every day like some other kids," Kadden said.
He's determined," said Kadden's mother, LaCosta Abbott. "He's determined to change a system that almost failed him. He wants other kids to have it better than he did."
Kadden is starting an organization to help other kids who have been through the same trauma, giving them a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings. 'Give it a Face' intends to do just that — put a face on an issue so few are willing to openly discuss.
"Some kids, it will be happening and they won't say anything," Kadden said. "Don't keep it locked up inside. You need to tell someone and try to get help."