No two children respond to abuse or trauma in exactly the same way. Children who have been abused may develop problems such as: feelings of fear and anxiety, anger issues and emotional outbursts, sadness and withdrawal, nightmares or complications with sleeping, eating disorders, teenage pregnancy, attention and concentration difficulties, academic and social problems, self-mutilation and/or suicidal tendencies, and substance abuse. Children who have been sexually abused may also act out sexually with others, and may have difficulty maintaining appropriate interpersonal boundaries. These and other problems regularly observed in traumatized and abused children are addressed in therapy.
Sometimes people assume that children are unaffected by their abusive or traumatic experiences because the child doesn’t talk about their abuse and/or they do not outwardly express signs of distress. In this type of situation, these children may be using: denial, avoidance and numbing, or attitudes of perfectionism to cope with their traumatic events. It is crucial that these children also receive therapy to assist them in developing helpful coping mechanisms and other healthy ways of dealing with their abuse.
At the Carroll County Child Advocacy Center CAC program, non-offending caregivers are also actively involved in the treatment of their children. The sexual abuse of a child can be intensely difficult for the adults in their lives. Because of this, our therapists provide emotional support to caregivers throughout the treatment process. Furthermore, treatment referrals to adult therapists within the community are also provided to any parents interested in one-on-one therapy for themselves.
The underlying treatment model utilized by the Carroll County Child Advocacy Center CAC program is the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is widely regarded as the most effective treatment for sexually abused and traumatized children. It has the strongest research support of any treatment model with traumatized children. It is also identified as “Best Practice” for therapy with sexually abused children. TF-CBT emphasizes the importance of parent involvement. Throughout the course of treatment, therapists have individual sessions with the child, as well as individual sessions with the caregiver, and also joint sessions with both the parent and child.
In addition to TF-CBT, the Carroll County Child Advocacy Center CAC program also has therapists who have been specifically trained in Play Therapy, a model of treatment techniques that emphasize the child’s natural world of Play in order to promote healing. These techniques are often essential to the treatment of younger children who have been abused but may not have the cognitive or verbal skills necessary to communicate clearly due to their developmental stage. Therapists use art, puppets, sand trays, therapeutic games, etc. as well as words to enable a child to share about, and heal from, their experiences.
Forensic interview services are provided to children ages 3 to 18. They can also be given to adults with developmental challenges who are suspected of being exploited or abused. Forensic interviews are provided for suspected cases of exposure to violence, physical abuse, and child sexual abuse or exploitation. If you believe that a child has been abused, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Department of Family and Children Services.
A child’s statement about his/her encounters is a crucial element of any investigation of abuse, owing to the fact that most abuse is not witnessed by others and the fact that most perpetrators of abuse will deny it. For these reasons, among others, it is essential that the child be interviewed in a manner that is objective and non-leading It is also necessary that the interview be conducted by someone with specialized training in forensic interviewing of children.
A forensic interview is a consultation in which information from a child is obtained in an objective, unbiased, and developmentally and culturally sensitive manner that is fact finding in nature. The forensic interview is conducted in a legally defensible manner by someone who has received specialized training in the area of forensic interviewing of children. One of the primary goals of the forensic interview is to ascertain whether or not a crime has taken place. For this reason, the results of the interview are documented in such a way that they can stand up under judicial inquiry. Every forensic interview is digitally recorded and is observed by members of an involved investigative team from a separate observation room. To help improve trust between the child and interviewer, the forensic interviewer informs the child, when developmentally appropriate, that the forensic interview is being recorded.
Forensic interviews are provided in both English and Spanish, at no charge. The forensic interview recordings are commonly played during various legal proceedings, such as hearings and trials.
Sometimes a child may not be able to successfully engage in the forensic interview process due to things like: trauma, anxiety, limited verbal or cognitive skills, etc. In these types of cases, if there is additional information that leads investigators to be concerned that abuse or trauma has occurred, the child may be referred for an extended forensic evaluation. A forensic evaluation usually takes place over the course of several sessions. The extended nature of the forensic evaluation allows the child additional time to acclimate to the forensic process, and also allows the evaluator added opportunities to delve into concerns through other objective and developmentally sensitive techniques. All forensic evaluation sessions are provided at the Carroll County Child Advocacy Center and are digitally recorded.
Upon completion of the forensic interview or evaluation, the multidisciplinary team will make recommendations in regard to the child’s need for medical and mental health treatment.
Carroll County Child Advocacy Center offers training to adults to teach them how to prevent, recognize and appropriately respond to child sexual abuse.
Training through Darkness to Light‘s Stewards of Children curriculum is available to those in Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties free of charge. The training takes 2 hours to complete and is certified for continuing education for social workers, licensed professional counselors, law enforcement, early child care providers – Bright From the Start, nurses, EMS and attorneys.
Check our Facebook page to see if there is a spontaneous training session which did not get posted to this website and feel free to contact us to schedule a training session which meets your needs in terms of time and location.
We also offer four Add-On Modules
Talking with Children about Safety from Sexual Abuse
Healthy Touch for Children and Youth
Bystander Protecting Children from Boundary Violations and Sexual Abuse
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Also, the Stewards of Children Curriculum is embedded in several degree programs in the Department of Education and Tanner Health System School of Nursing at University of West Georgia.