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A letter from our Executive Director
This has been another incredible year marked with an increase in services and programs. We have served more adults, children and families reaching out and receiving our help and support. We provided prevention education in almost every school in Kennebec & Somerset Counties and trained several new Support Line Volunteers. We have increased our support work in the local jails for those who are affected by Sexual Violence, as well as, increased our services to the aging population.
There are so many accomplishments to be proud of, a huge accomplishment is what we have been able to provide to the youngest victims in our community through our Nationally Accredited Children’s Advocacy Center. In the over 20 years that I have had the honor of leading this agency, I have seen many changes and enhancements to what we are able to provide as we continue to provide free, quality support services to victims and families who have experienced the horrific crime of Sexual Violence, the Children’s Advocacy Center is a way of enhancing these services for children and families which is due in large part to the commitment of an amazing team, the level of coordinated, effective services being provided by the Kennebec & Somerset County Children’s Advocacy Center, a program under the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center is just amazing.
Children’s Advocacy Centers emphasize the coordination of investigation & intervention services by bringing together professionals and agencies as a multidisciplinary team to create a child focused approach to Child Sexual Abuse. Accreditation of CAC’s through the National Children’s Alliance assures the highest standard of care is provided to victims. Accredited membership in NCA requires that the programs meet specific standards which ensure effective, efficient, and consistent delivery of services. We are very proud of the accomplishments of this team and none of this would have been possible without them, an amazing staff, board of directors and our community partners such as MaineGeneral and other local heroes.
Children interviewed at the CAC put their hand prints on the "Wall of Courage" as a symbol of their own courage and know they are not alone. I hope for a day that there will be “no more hand prints.”
A letter from our Board President
In Maine, one in five persons will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center is critical to the goal and process of these victims becoming sexual assault survivors. Sadly, many of the victims are very young children. All victims have families and sexual assault is insidious in the way it affects everyone. The Center provides invaluable services and support for victims and their family members.
I have been a member of the Board of Directors of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center for the last several years, and was recently elected the president of the Board. The Board consists of a group of very dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and talents to the success of the Center. The membership of the Board consists of medical, social service, law enforcement, and other disciplines. It is an integral part of the operation of the Center and is most proud today of the development and huge success of the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), which has been very instrumental in assisting the criminal justice system with the investigation and prosecution of those who sexually assault children.
The Center relies to a significant degree on fundraising and donations to deliver the services greatly needed by sexual assault victims and their families. The path to recovery for these victims is long and arduous, and we need your help in assuring that they receive the services needed on that journey.
Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center
If you are like most people, it is difficult to know how to respond when someone shares something so personal and painful with you. You struggle with knowing what to say, how to express your concern, how to honor their story, and how to encourage them to get help. One of the most helpful things you can do is to begin by believing them. Be gentle with yourself as you try to find the right words, and know that you are not alone in this. You can call our toll-free 24-hour support line for support for yourself as you support your friend, and you can refer your friend to call us for additional support. 1-800-871-7741. Services are free and confidential.
“Something Happened to Me”
Six ways you can respond to a survivor (Raain.org)
1.“I’m sorry this happened.” Acknowledge their experience and how it affected their life. You can use words to show you empathize using phrases like, “This must be really tough for you” and “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me.”
2.“It’s not your fault.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind your friend – maybe even more than once – that they are not to blame.
3.“I believe you.” It can be extremely difficult for people to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed or they may fear being blamed for the assault. So when someone shares their experience with you, the best thing you can do is to believe them.
4.“I’m here to listen.” Remind your friend that you are there to listen. The wake of an assault can be challenging for a survivor, as they might be making difficult decisions, such as deciding to go through the justice process.
5. “You can trust me.” If a survivor opens up to you, it means they trust you. Reassure that you won’t judge them and respect them by respecting their privacy. Before you share their story with others, make sure it’s okay with them. They may not be ready to take that step yet.
6. “Are you open to receiving medical attention?” Your friend might need medical attention, even if the assault happened a while ago.
Client Services Manager
Bystander Intervention: A Prevention Strategy
Part of sexual violence prevention is teaching young people how to speak up, whether it be against bullying, gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, or sexual assault.
At this year’s Maine Youth Action Network Conference, our education team surveyed over 100 youth about bystander intervention. Those survey questions and most popular answers were transformed into a Family Feud type game that students played. Through the game, youth learned that while they share many of the same concerns around speaking up they also share a desire to help. Knowing that their peers also want to speak up helps youth to find their own voice.
Want to help your students or your school talk about bystander intervention?
Students learning about bystander intervention at the MYAN Youth ConferenceStudents learning about bystander intervention at the MYAN Youth Conference
What to Expect When You Visit the Children's Advocacy Center of Kennebec & Somerset Counties
The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a program of the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center serving Kennebec and Somerset Counties, using evidence-based best practices, will provide a safe, neutral and child-centered place for timely and coordinated evaluation/response of children following an allegation of sexual abuse. Our aspiration is to provide early intervention in an effort to minimize the trauma of those which the CAC will serve through a streamlined, non-repetitious and timely evaluation process and providing on-going support for children and their non-offending family members in the aftermath of sexual abuse allegations.
Instead of the child victim and families navigating a difficult and sometimes confusing system of multiple and repetitive interviews, the diverse system providers will be brought to the child. The Children’s Advocacy Center Program is modeled on the simple but powerful concept of coordination between community agencies and professionals involved in intervention systems.
You (the non-offending caregiver) will first be contacted by phone by the Family Services Coordinator (FSC) from the CAC. They will help set up your appointment time, ask if you or your child have any special considerations (cultural considerations, interpreter services or other needs) and make sure you have good directions to the Thayer Center for Health Campus of MaineGeneral in Waterville. The FSC will also answer any questions that the family may have at this time.
When You Arrive
When you arrive at the Thayer Center for Health Campus of MaineGeneral, you will be greeted in the lobby by the MaineGeneral Volunteers (usually wearing blue jackets), and they will accompany you to the CAC offices. Once you are at the CAC, you will spend a few minutes with the FSC getting settled in the family room. There are lots of toys, games, and books available, as well as, snacks, water and coffee. Soon after you arrive, the Forensic Interviewer (FI) will invite the non-offending caregiver(s) into the conference room where you will have a chance to meet the Team, see where your child will be interviewed and ask any questions that you may have at that time. Your child (or children) stays with the FSC and possibly one of our Advocates. Once the pre-interview meeting has happened, you will go back to the family room.
The Forensic Interview
Next, the FI will get your child from the family room and invite them into the interview room. The child and the interviewer are in one room and the rest of the Team is in the conference room observing on a closed circuit monitor. While the child is being interviewed, you will meet with the FSC and possibly an Advocate in the family room, to discuss the needs of the family and to make any appropriate referrals for medical follow up, mental health services or other services that may be available to you and your family. For various reasons, you are not allowed to view the interview.
Meeting with the Team
Once the interview is complete, the child is reunited with you in the family room. The Team will meet briefly and then invite you back to the conference room to talk about next steps in the investigation, and also to answer any questions that the you may have. The Team members will also share their contact information with you at this time. While the post-interview meeting is happening, your child is with the FSC doing child-friendly activities.
You will leave the CAC with a packet of information and copies of any referrals that were made. The FSC will follow up with the you caregivers in a week and again in a month. You also have the option of a follow up with an Advocate for support during the rest of the case and beyond.
Welcome Sara Bangs!
Sara Bangs is the new Development and Communications manager for SAC & SC. She is responsible
for all planning, coordinating, and implementing of the organization’s fundraising events and community outreach. Her goal is to enhance and grow each of the events, including the One in Five 5K and the Celebrity Dinner. Prior to joining SAC &SC, she worked for Camden National, previously The Bank of Maine. During her 16-year career with the bank, she developed a passion for community involvement and volunteering. Sara is a 2016 KV Chamber Young Professional nominee, has volunteered for numerous organizations, and has served on three nonprofit boards.
Born and raised in Augusta, Sara now resides in Chelsea with her fiancé Ryan and their three sons. She is an avid reader and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In the summer months you can find her spending time enjoying Maine’s beautiful coast.
Kennebec & Somerset Counties in Maine
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse... there is someone who will listen.
Call the Maine Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Line
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