In 2018, Hopeful Horizons assisted nearly 1,200 survivors of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault. While child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault are prevalent in our community year-round, April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP) and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), providing an opportunity to shed additional light on these issues.
In honor of Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Months, in this blog post, we are focusing on accomplishments related to Hopeful Horizons’ services for survivors of child abuse and sexual assault this month.
Forensic interviews (FIs) are requested by law enforcement and the Department of Social Services when there are allegations of child abuse. Hopeful Horizons conducted 371 FIs in 2018, approximately 20 fewer than in 2017. We saw a significant increase in FIs from 2016 to 2017, so the 2018 numbers are still consistently high, but seem to have plateaued. We also provided hospital accompaniment for seven children and our Family Advocates accompanied children and their families to 87 forensic medical evaluations.
Two additional therapists became certified Forensic Interviewers in 2018, so our children’s clinical team was able to manage the Forensic Interviews while continuing to provide therapy for child abuse victims.
Our therapists provided evidenced-based trauma treatment and counseling services for 218 children and their families last year. Children who received Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy experienced a significant decrease in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The average child pre-treatment score on the Child PTSD Symptom Scale was 24 (a score of 15 or higher indicates the child is likely experiencing clinically significant symptoms of PTSD) and the average post-treatment score was 8.
In 2018, we were able to re-energize the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) – a collaboration between organizations that provide services to victims in the Lowcountry. This team strives to build a coordinated community response that creates an environment in which survivors are supported and feel safe coming forward to report sexual assault. The SART brings together a multi-disciplinary team to discuss the community’s response to sexual assault and how to better meet victims’ needs. For example, the SART can identify gaps in the system and create training opportunities for professionals in the community.
Also, in 2018, we were able to add a full-time staff position dedicated to working with adult survivors of sexual assault - our Sexual Assault Victim Advocate. The Victim Advocate provides crisis response via our hotline and at local hospitals as well as providing individual and group support, information and resources to survivors wherever they are in their healing journey. The Victim Advocate can also act as a liaison between law enforcement, the solicitor’s office and the survivor, which helps to ensure that they are kept up to date regarding their case. In 2018, Hopeful Horizons assisted 96 adult survivors of sexual assault, including providing accompaniment for 28 people.
Look for a future blog post on our work with survivors of domestic abuse, as well as our work in the community with prevention and outreach.