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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

See the answers to the the questions we get asked the most at the BRCAC.

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Click on the section below that best fits your needs to learn the answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Q: “What will happen to me?”

A: We are going to work very hard to make sure that you are safe and that others are safe. We are going to give you a chance to learn about why this happened and what you can do to help yourself feel better.

Q: “Will I have to talk to a judge or lawyer”

A: Maybe. We will try very hard to give the courts what they need to solve your case, but it is possible that a judge or an attorney may need to speak with you directly. If that happens we will learn about it in enough time to help you get ready for it and we will be there with you to help you.

Q: What will happen to the person that hurt me?

A: We’re not sure. What happens next depends on a lot of different things and a lot of different people. All of us are working hard to make sure this person faces and owns up to what they did to you and get consequences. Consequences are things that happen because of something that we do or choices we make. A person who abuses children needs help. Most abusers need special counseling. If the abuser is someone in your family, you may see less of him or her for a while. The abuser may get the kind of help he or she needs to stop hurting children. Because child abuse is against the law, some abusers may go to jail.

Q: Is something wrong with me?

A. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything you are feeling and thinking and doing is because something very upsetting happened to you. In fact, the changes you are going through are very normal because of what happened to you. Other children/teens are having those changes too. The good news is that pretty soon you will feel much better.

Q: Will Anyone Believe Me?

A: YES! There are adults who will believe you and who will help you. Some adults may not want to believe that you have been abused. If an adult tells you to forget about it, tell someone else. Keep Telling Until Someone Listens! Remember, the way to stop abuse is to tell someone. You DO NOT have to keep it a secret!

Q: How Can I Stop It?

A: The way to stop abuse is to talk about it. Child abuse is against the law. Even if the abuse only happens once or seems like it is over, it is important to tell someone you trust. Child abusers may tell kids that something bad will happen if they ever tell anyone. If the abuser is a family member, kids may be afraid the family will break apart if they tell the secret.

Q: Will I get a call when the person is arrested?

A: Yes, during the family intake process, the parent will fill out a form from LA VINE that is a process that makes sure you are kept up on what is happening to the offender and decisions that are made.

Q: What is the number to DCFS? / How do I report abuse?

A: DCFS Hotline – 855-452-5437. (Here we would link them to the webpage on reporting child abuse)

Q: What should I do if I think a child is being abused?

A: Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect should be made to Department of Children and Family Services, contact 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll-free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Reports can also be made to your local police department/sheriff’s office in your parish.

Q: Can I bring my child directly to the CAC if I suspect he/she has been abused?

A: No. Any time an allegation of abuse occurs, law enforcement or Department of Children and Family Services must be involved. If you suspect your child has been abused, the first step is to make a report to DCFS and to law enforcement. The CAC does not actually investigate the alleged abuse. We simply provide the services to most accurately collect the evidence for an investigation. Therefore, we cannot interview or examine children without the coordinated approach of the multidisciplinary team, which will be law enforcement, DCFS or both agencies working together.

Q: How can I prepare my child for a CAC interview?

A: Do: · Tell your child he or she will be visiting a safe, comfortable place to speak with a person whose job it is to talk with kids and teenagers. · Have your child be well rested. · Give your child permission to talk with the interviewer and let him or her know it is OK to talk about anything. Don’t: · Ask your child questions about the situation · Tell your child what to say · Promise treats or rewards to your child for talking · Ask why your child didn’t tell sooner

Q: Why do I have to stay while my child is in therapy?

A: Throughout the therapy process, the therapist may need to speak with the parent. And, our therapists work closely with parents, who we view as the “expert” into their children. Therapy work includes working with parents and family members.

Q: Can I watch my child’s interview?

A: Only the child and the interviewer are allowed in the interview room. This ensures the interview will be objective and non-threatening. Only members of the multidisciplinary team are allowed in the observation room.

Q: What if my child asks if I’ll be in the room with them?

A: Be honest with your child; let them know that they will be in the room alone with the interviewer. You can let your child know that while they are talking, you are going to be having your own meeting with someone who works at Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy to get information on helping to keep them safe

Q: How should I tell my child that they have to talk with a stranger about this situation – especially if they’ve already disclosed to me?

A: Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who talks to children about very difficult things. Sometimes parents will identify this person as a friend, a counselor, a specialist, an interviewer etc. Tell your child that even though they’ve told things to you (or to someone else), it’s important that they speak to the interviewer as well.

Q: What if my child wants to know why they just can’t tell me and let me tell the other people?

A: Tell your child that you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. And also tell them that because you love them so much, sometimes parents ask the kinds of questions that are about feelings instead of about the facts, which is why this special interviewer needs to do the asking. Assure them that they are not in any trouble and remind them how brave they are for letting someone know that someone else has done something wrong.

Q: How will I know the outcome of my child’s interview?

A: Parents and guardians are encouraged to speak privately with the detective or child protection worker that is handling your case before you leave the Center. It is okay to ask if your child made a disclosure about the abuse, if there will be an arrest or what will happen next.

Q: Can I talk to my child after the interview about what happened?

A: It’s important to give children and teens “space” in the aftermath of the interview yet making one’s self present and available should the child/teen indicate they are ready to discuss. Most of all, it’s important to support your child by affirming that they were courageous and “did the right thing” acknowledging that it may have been hard. It’s ill-advised to question you child either before or after an interview has taken place. This can have the effect of confusing children and it can also interfere with the investigation process. Additionally, even well-intentioned questions can result in re-traumatizing your child

Q: How long does the process take?

A: The length of time an interview takes depends on several factors, such as the age of the child, the intensity and number of incidents that occurred. Sometimes a second interview is required.

Q: Why hasn’t there been an arrest?

A: There are many factors that need to be in place in order for an arrest to take place. May of those factors have to do with the strength of the evidence obtained. While the CAC assists with gathering information, we do not decide the outcome of cases. Thus, we often facilitate a dialogue between law enforcement or the District Attorney’s Office when victim’s raise concerns about their case status, such as whether or not an arrest will be made.

Q: What happens if an arrest is made?

A: It is important to note, in the event of an arrest, your case will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office. Once an arrest has been made, you are encouraged to contact the DA’s office and inquire which District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney has been assigned to your child’s case. It will also be important to obtain a contact number for that person.

Q: When can I call the DA’s office, who do I contact?

A: The Family Advocate is there to answer basic questions the family may have throughout the process and point the family to the appropriate resource. Investigative & legal questions prior to an arrest are directed to Law Enforcement. Once an arrest is made, the family may contact the DA’s office with additional legal questions. There are Victim’s Assistance Coordinators associated with the District Attorney’s Office who also help families get support and navigate the criminal justice process.

Q: What do I ask the attorney once I make contact?

A: You will want to know the current status of your child’s case and any pending court dates. Regarding the arrest, you will want to know what the perpetrator’s current charge(s) are. At this time, you are encouraged to ask any additional questions you may have.

Q: What information should I have available when I contact the District Attorney’s Office?

A: You will need to know the law enforcement file number for your child’s case, the detective’s name and the date of your child’s interview.

Q: Why does my child need therapy?

A: All incidents of trauma impacts victims whether it occurs in childhood, adolescence and adults. Responses to trauma and the capacity of victims to bounce back is highly variable. All survivors benefit from some intervention depending on the nature of the trauma and the factors in the survivor’s life that could promote recovery. The interventions vary from short-term supportive approaches that include skills to help the survivor to more formal and longer term therapy interventions, including individual and family psychotherapy.

Q: Who will provide therapy for my child?

A: Therapy at Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy is provided by full-time, licensed and board-certified mental health professionals, as well as supervised, master’s level student interns in the field of social work and mental health counseling. Therapists and student interns use evidence-based interventions to ensure clients receive the highest quality of treatment. Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based treatment and proven to be a highly effective intervention for victims of abuse. The majority of abuse victims have symptoms of post-traumatic stress and TF-CBT treats the symptoms in the context of the trauma specific to our clients: THE ABUSE.

Q: How will counseling/therapy help my child?

A: The therapy relationship is a safe place for your child to label and express feelings and thoughts related to the abuse, such as anger, fear, and sadness. Your child will also be assisted in re- establishing the personal boundaries and sense of self-worth taken away by the abuser. Your child will learn that the abuse was not his/her fault. Your child will also learn skills that can help them manage thoughts, feelings and behaviors that will be life-long tools.

Q: How long will my child need to come to therapy?

A: Length of time in therapy varies. Your child’s counselor will help your child set goals to be reached in therapy. An individual treatment plan will be made and reviewed periodically. Your child may need to seek therapy in the future when leaving home, getting married, or having a child.

Q: Is my child going to be ok again? Healthy?

A: With the right resources, most children can not only “be okay” but can actually thrive and be in a special capacity to help others.

Q: How long do you work with the children?

A: The length of intervention depends on some factors such as the age of the child, the intensity and number of incidents that occurred. The range is from 2- 4 sessions to 2- 3 years. And, survivors who have ended their sessions may return at any point for “booster” sessions as reminders arise or difficult periods (for example, the case coming to trial) occur. Q. Will my child have to testify in court or speak with the Judge? A: We record every Forensic Interview as and provide this evidence to The District Attorney’s Office used by the DA during the legal proceedings. Under certain circumstances, the judge does have a right to ask for a child to testify. The DA will take time to prepare the child if this is the case.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: Once the Forensic Interview is conducted, the CAC family advocate, clinical director, clinicians & forensic interviewer will come together in what is called “internal case review or staffing.” The team will develop of plan of care for the victim and family, determine needed resources and other partners who need to be included in the service plan. At times, it may be ascertained that a victim is more appropriately served by another provider in the community. This planning process occurs within a week of the initial forensic interview and intake. The Family Advocate will then contact the family & convey the team’s recommendations for services and the plan of care as well as linking them to those resources.

Q: What is “Trauma-Informed Care”?

A: The knowledge and science of childhood adversity and trauma has expanded greatly in recent decades. As a result, there is a universal movement that views childhood adversity and trauma through a public health lens and underscores that trauma in childhood is the leading public health issue we face. This movement toward expanding the lens of addressing childhood trauma and expanding the approaches to offset the negative impact of trauma across all disciplines is trauma-informed care.

Q: Can you come out to my facility to provide training to my staff?

A: Yes

Q: Can you come out to my facility to provide training to my staff? How much does that cost?

A: Yes, the cost depends on the time commitment and whether the training may be provided within the framework of grant funds the CAC is currently awarded.

Q: What is the difference between “Vicarious Trauma” and Secondary Stress?

A: Vicarious trauma and Secondary Stress are often used interchangeably. The term Vicarious traumatization (VT) was coined by Pearlman & Saakvitne (1995) to describe the profound shift in world view that occurs in helping professionals when they work with individuals who have experienced trauma: helpers notice that their fundamental beliefs about the world are altered and possibly damaged by being repeatedly exposed to traumatic material. Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) is a concept that was developed by trauma specialists Beth Stamm, Charles Figley and others in the early 1990s as they sought to understand why service providers seemed to be exhibiting symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) without having necessarily been exposed to direct trauma themselves. VT/STS can occur in professionals who work in high-stress and trauma-exposed fields (child abuse investigators, prosecutors, judges, therapists, health care professionals, animal shelter workers and many others) but it can also affect civilians who do not work in high-trauma fields but are deeply impacted by stories that they are exposed to (maybe graphic news accounts, a friend sharing details of a traumatic event they experienced, again, there are many examples of ways in which this may occur.)

Q: If an adult discloses abuse that happened in childhood many years ago, am I still obligated to report it? This happened years ago. Do we still need to report?

A: Yes. There is no statute of limitations in reporting a sex crime for instance that occurred in a person’s childhood. Reporting it, even years later, is important not only in holding the offender accountable for the offense, but also in protecting others who may have also or could be harmed by this offender. Patterns of abuse in offenders tends to be repetitive, so that there will, without confrontation, a good chance that the same abuse will have happened or will happen to others.

Q: Can you come out in the middle of the night?

A: Our forensic interviewers on occasion will respond along with law enforcement and DCFS to after-hours requests for service. This would occur, for example, when there is an urgent need to collect more detailed information at the time of the crime. However, best practices inform that it is better for children and teenagers to have time to rest and restore before participating in a forensic interview. In most situations, therefore, these services are provided through a scheduling procedure with our law enforcement and DCFS partners.

Q: Can we just report to you instead of reporting to DCFS?

A: No. However, the CAC staff can be helpful in explaining or helping you navigate the reporting process. For example, we can provide guidance in determining which agency is the appropriate reporting agency in a specific jurisdiction.

 

Q: What is the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center?

A: The CAC is a child-friendly facility that provides forensic interviews, advocacy, therapy services to child victims, and prevention/education to the community. The CAC’s goal is to reduce a child’s trauma by reducing the number of times a child has to be interviewed regarding allegations of abuse; creating a positive and culturally sensitive response to these allegations, and; linking the families to supportive services.

Q: Do kids stay there?

A: No. The BRCAC provides services on an outpatient basis through scheduled appointments. Children are usually accompanied by a guardian and occasionally by Law Enforcement or Department of Social Services. If a child has been removed from their guardian, they may be brought to an appointment by a foster parent or relative placement.

Q: Why am I being referred to the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center?

A: You and your child will be visiting the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center because of possible child abuse. In conjunction with law enforcement or child protective services or both, your child will be interviewed by a specially trained interviewer.

Q: Where are you located?

A: 626 East Blvd. Baton Rouge 70802 Our agency is located in a two-story yellow house, with a black wrought iron gate around it. There is

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