In 2009, the Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center opened in Spotsylvania County. Children from across the Fredericksburg region go to the center for sexual assault exams and one-on-one interviews. Before the center opened, children who had been abused could endure as many as 14 interviews with deputies, detectives, social workers, nurses, psychologists and lawyers.
At Safe Harbor, a child comes in and talks with one trained interviewer while the rest of the team sits in a conference room watching on closed-circuit television. They use a microphone and earpiece to feed questions to the interviewer.
If an exam is needed, a nurse takes the child to a room decorated in soothing, child-friendly colors. The young sexual assault victim could receive exams on smaller beds with colorful sheets and Tinkerbell bedding. The center’s waiting rooms are equipped with toys, video games and art supplies.
When Safe Harbor opened 18 years ago, it mainly provided interviews and rape exams. Detectives, social workers, nurses and prosecutors praised the center’s services, and parents were grateful for the streamlined interview process.
Even so, the center’s staff had few resources to offer once the interview was over. The children often needed follow-up care performed by a therapist trained to deal with trauma victims.
For three years, the center has offered trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy. Safe Harbor also provides case management services, and takes care of families following the interview.
There aren’t many places that specialize in trauma care for children, so RACSB stepped in to provide a trauma-trained therapist at Safe Harbor. This work has helped many children--and their families--to heal.
To support this important work, Safe Harbor holds a fundraising bash each year. The sixth annual gala will feature dancing, hors d'ouvres, silent and live auctions, casino games--and the opportunity to help vulnerable children in our community.
The event will be held on Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $90. You can buy them here.
Learn more about Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center here.