Local Advocacy Center helps children of abuse

Visit SmallTalkCAC.org to donate towards advocacy efforts.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:58 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Thousands of children face some sort of sexual or physical abuse every year. Out of every three sex offenses nationwide, two are children under the age of 18, according to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Michigan. A local non-profit is helping child victims of abuse recover and speak out.

It’s a safe, neutral place specially made for kids.

“We got some fidgets down here and some crayons,” said Marissa Rasak.

A room with calming colors and a welcoming atmosphere. It’s where Small Talk, a non-profit helping kids under 18 navigate child sexual abuse investigations, hosts their forensic interviews. The interview allows kids to share their stories.

“The point of it is to be unbiased,” said Rasak. “The interview itself allows for the child to speak. They’re doing the majority of the talking. The questions that we ask are kind of guided and help me understand. Tell me more kind of questions.”

Marissa Rasak is a trained forensic interviewer at Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center.

“This is our observation room,” said Rasak.

Law enforcement and counselors are able to listen in on the interview while sitting inside the observation room. This allows them to access the information given.

“This also allows for the prosecutor to see everything that the child’s words are their words nobody can say otherwise,” said Rasak.

Claire Redmer with Small Talk says before children advocacy centers, kids were interviewed in environments that might be scary.

“They might be at the police station,” said Redmer. “They might feel like they were in trouble. Sometimes they were interviewed at school in their principal’s office, sometimes in their own homes.”

Ensuring that kids feel heard and understood and helping to destigmatize child abuse conversations.

“We don’t want to believe that it’s happening, you know who does,” said Redmer. “Who wants to believe that that’s true, that’s happening to these children, but the truth is it is.”

“We’ve had many talk about or even leaving the interview just happy that somebody is just listening to them and that they feel they’re finally being heard. Which is a really powerful statement to hear from a child,” said Rasak.

The goal—making sure that every voice matters. Small Talk connects those families with resources to further help them recover. If you or someone you know is in need, contact your local law enforcement or SmallTalkCAC.org for more information.

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