The National Sexual Violence Resource Center says one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
Those numbers help drive the mission of one local organization that works with law enforcement to turn victims of child abuse into survivors.
The non-profit is called Small Talk. For the last seven years, children have been going to Small Talk knowing it's a safe place where they can disclose their abuse.
But it's more than just that. The organization also provides free counseling to make sure children also have a safe place to work through what happened to them.
Now, thanks to a new partnership, children in Eaton County can benefit from those services.
"We felt we had the capacity to be able to serve more children so we knew that they did not have a children's advocacy center at the time so we reached out to them to see if they would be interested, invited some of their critical staff to visit Small Talk and see the space and they were very impressed and decided that this was something they wanted to be a part of,” said Alex Brace, executive director of Small Talk.
“We're just going to try it out and see how it goes and then hopefully build from there and incorporate all of their law enforcement agencies into our services,” he added.
Brace said the process will be the same as it happens in Ingham County and in the end the goal is to help children understand that their voice matters.
“Law enforcement will contact us, they will call us to arrange a forensic interview and then we will provide the space and the staff to be able to complete that forensic interview at Small Talk,” Brace said. “And then we'll be able to provide them with the same counseling services that we provide to all of our Ingham County residents."
Since its founding in 2011, more than 1,530 children have entered the doors at Small Talk. So far this year in 2018, more than 180 forensic interviews have been conducted and right now more than 60 children are currently in counseling.
"Every child deserves a place to be able to come and tell their story in a safe environment and an opportunity to heal with trauma informed counseling services,” Brace said. “So we want to make sure that every child not only in Ingham County but all across the state of Michigan has access to that and incorporating Eaton County into the work that Small Talk does is just one step closer to that goal."
Like with many new ideas, Small Talk started with a dream of making a difference in the life of just one child by providing a safe place for healing and now, children in Eaton County who fall victim to child abuse can benefit from Small Talk's mission by having their voices heard.
"It's critical because we want to make sure that every child has access to child advocacy centers and we certainly believe in the services that we provide,” Brace said.
Thursday night, Small Talk is hosting its “Small Voices, Big Heroes” charity event where Larissa Boyce, Trinea Gonczar, and Jessica Smith, all survivors of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse, will offer special remarks about why they believe in Small Talk's mission.
You can learn more about Small Talk by visiting its website here.
For more information on the charity event, click here.
Full disclosure: Alexandra Ilitch proudly serves on Small Talk’s Board of Directors.
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