CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER
Children’s Advocacy Center
Lotus Children’s Advocacy Program is based on a multidisciplinary (MDT) approach to the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases across the 8 counties of the Purchase Region. In our child friendly settings, skilled professionals provide comprehensive services to help child abuse victims and their supportive family members through the entire process from crisis through long-term recovery.
Having an advocate be involved in my criminal cases at the very beginning means my survivor has someone with them through the whole process. Lotus’s forensic interviewing skills are unprecedented and are in many cases the best evidence we have for prosecution.
Detective Angel Clere,
Murray Police Department
SERVICES & FAQ
MAKE A REPORT
LEARN THE SIGNS
Multidisciplinary Team (MDT)
Our Children’s Advocacy Center is based on a multidisciplinary team approach. This means we partner with a team of skilled professionals such as law enforcement, prosecutors, child protective services, and medical professionals who want to ensure your child and family are safe and have access to support and resources through the entire process from crisis through long-term recovery.
Family Advocacy Services
Children grow and learn best in families with the support and skills to deal with the difficult times that every family experiences. At Lotus, we partner with caregivers to build protective factors and cope with stressors so families are resilient and children thrive.
Legal advocates help victims and their caregivers navigate the legal system and make important decisions. They’re here to help you understand all of your rights and options. With court education, case tracking, updates and court accompaniment, you will feel confident and supported throughout the criminal and civil justice processes.
Our forensic interview team is trained to help children feel safe and comfortable as they begin talking about their experiences. The forensic interview will determine if a specialized medical exam is needed. Medical evaluations are offered on-site in our offices by highly trained board-certified physicians. Our medical services help reassure children and caregivers that their bodies are okay. Our Child Advocacy team will offer guidance for follow up care and services.
Child Forensic Interview:
A child forensic interview is provided to children who may have experienced abuse or witnessed violence or a crime. As part of a larger investigation, it gives children the opportunity to talk about their experiences in a way that is child-centered, legally sound, and only requires the child to share their experiences one time, with one person.
The forensic interview is provided by a licensed mental health professional, and puts your child’s mental health and wellbeing first. This appointment may include mental health screenings & support, crisis management, or referrals for therapy or other support.
Extended Forensic Interviews:
Not every child can relay their experiences in a single session, because every child is different and has different needs. The extended interview process offers the same child focused, legally sound method of interviewing children, broken up over 2-5 appointments or sessions. Depending on the circumstances, we may talk with you about this or other options.
Specialized Child Medical Examinations:
Children referred to Lotus by Social Services and/or Law Enforcement may receive a medical exam by a physician who has specialized training on current techniques, procedures, and diagnoses of child abuse trauma. Medical evaluations are offered on site in our offices. During these appointments, the physician explains what the medical examination will involve, helps reassure the child and caregivers that their bodies are okay, and may provide testing or referrals depending on the needs of the child. Caregivers are involved throughout this process.
Therapy and Restorative Services
Child abuse and other forms of childhood trauma can have lifelong effects on children, families, and communities. Research shows a strong relationship between childhood trauma and serious outcomes such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance abuse, physical health programs, and even poverty and death. The good news is that we can prevent these outcomes which is why our early intervention services are so important. Evidence-based mental health treatments like those delivered at Lotus to child victims of abuse and caregivers can significantly reduce trauma symptoms and prevent the long-term effects of exposure to trauma.
At Lotus, we provide a holistic approach to healing and wellness which includes therapy techniques and wellness practices addressing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual effects of their experiences. In a nurturing environment, our healing services are designed to help survivors build resources, change behaviors, and use the body as a tool for recovery. Expressive arts and play therapies fosters learning and self-expression and builds on the natural way that people learn about themselves and their relationships in the world around them. Mindfulness and movement can bring new depth to healing and inner resilience helping to bring survivors back into their bodies, to interact with the world around them, to tell their stories in a language other than spoken words, and to begin trusting others again. Survivors gain a new sense of belonging and develop a sense of community that strengthens them as they overcome the challenges of trauma.
Some of the evidence-based therapy treatments we provide are:
- Trauma-focused Cognitive Therapy
- EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) Therapy
- SMART (Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment)
- Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
We also offer opportunities to engage the mind, body and spirit through a variety of creative and expressive activities.
Some of the practices we use are:
- Play therapy
- Sand tray therapy
- Expressive arts therapies
- Yoga and movement
- Mindfulness and meditation training
- Regulation training
For caregivers, we also offer individual, family, and group therapy services. During this time it is vital for you to take care of yourself, as well as your child. Contact us or ask your family to advocate for more information about these services.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much will these services cost my family?
As Kentucky’s regional children’s advocacy center for the Purchase Area, Lotus provides all services free of charge.
How can I learn more about what my child is going through?
Talk with your child’s Lotus therapist or advocate. Get started with these two resources:
How do I recognize the signs of abuse?
Remember, by law, if you believe a child may have experienced abuse, you must report this concern to the authorities.
Signs that a child is being sexually abused are often present, but they can be hard to tell from other signs of child stress, distress, or trauma. Knowing what to look for can help.
How do I react if a child tells me abuse has occured?
When a child discloses their sexual abuse to you, it means that they trust you. It’s important to react in a responsible way that’s reassuring to the child.
Make a Report
To make a report of child abuse or neglect, contact DCBS Centralized Intake or your local Law Enforcement office. DCBS Centralized Intake: 1-877-597-2331.
If you are noticing unusual behaviors or symptoms, but aren’t sure what’s causing them, you can contact your child’s doctor or Lotus’s 24-Hour Helpline at any time: 1-800-928-7273.
What requires mandatory reporting in Kentucky?
Any person who is under the age of 18 whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when a parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision inflicts harm onto the minor child.
Any person eighteen (18) years of age or older, who because of mental and/or physical dysfunction, is unable to manage his own resources or carry out the activities of daily living, and may need protection from neglect, hazardous or abusive situations.
How Do I Make the Report?
Contact DCBS Centralized Intake or your local Law Enforcement office.
DCBS Centralized Intake: 1-877-597-2331
What information will I need when I make a report?
The victim’s name, gender and approximate age.
The name of the person believed to be responsible for the abuse or neglect.
The nature and extent of the abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including any evidence of previous abuse, neglect or exploitation.
The current location of the victim (home address, daycare, school, or other facility).
Any immediate risk to the victim.
Any other information the person believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
The name of the person making the report and identifying information IF the caller wishes to give that information; anonymous reports are accepted and investigated.
Other Reporting Contacts
Am I Required to Make a Report?
In Kentucky, any individual who has knowledge of the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child or vulnerable adult is required by law (KRS 600 & KRS 209) to report the abuse to DCBS or law enforcement.
What If I'm Not Sure If Abuse Or Neglect Has Occured?
Mandatory reporting laws require that suspected abuse be reported. This means that a report should be made if you have any reason to believe abuse or neglect have taken place. Abuse or neglect is defined as:
- Any person who is under the age of 18 whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when a parent, guardian, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision inflicts harm onto the minor child.
- Any person eighteen (18) years of age or older, who because of mental and/or physical dysfunction, is unable to manage his own resources or carry out the activities of daily living, and may need protection from neglect, hazardous or abusive situations.
Reporters are protected from any liability for all reports made in good faith.
Who Will Know That I Reported?
Reports can be made anonymously, meaning you are not required to share your own name or contact information.
If you do choose to share your name and information, the investigative worker assigned may be able to contact you for additional information. However, DCBS workers are required to keep reporting sources confidential so are not permitted to identify the individual who made the report.
What Happens After I Make a Report?
DCBS staff will determine if the report meets criteria for an investigation. If criteria is met, an investigative worker will be assigned and will respond by meeting with the children and adults involved to gather additional information.
Learn the Signs
Of Child Sexual Abuse
When it comes to sexual behaviors in children it can be difficult to know what is appropriate for their age. As your child explores and learns more about their own body, you might be confused or worried by some of their behaviors.
It’s important to note that only 12% of victims of child sexual abuse will tell someone because of fear, confusion or embarrassment. Some research suggests that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys nationwide have been victims of some form of sexual abuse.
If you are concerned your child has been sexually abused, report it to local law enforcement and seek help from Lotus Children’s Advocacy Center. We have services to help both you and your child get through this difficult time.
Below you’ll learn more about appropriate sexual behaviors for each age group, plus the physical and behavioral indicators that could be signs of child sexual abuse.
What is the Common Sexual Behavior in Children
Information provided by CACs of KY
0 - 2 Years Old
Children will openly explore their bodies, including sexual organs. There is curiosity about their bodies, bodies of others and everyone’s “potty” behavior. Erections can occur as physical reactions not related to sexuality. Children in this age group may soothe themselves by touching their genitals and will exhibit a lack of “modesty” about their bodies.
3 - 5 Years Old
During this time, children recognize adults as caregivers and depend on them to keep the child safe. These children may soothe themselves by rubbing their own genitals and may have a growing interest in bodily functions. At this age, an understanding of privacy should be established by caregivers.
6 - 8 Years Old
During this time, children may become interested in looking at pictures of naked people. There is an awareness of gender differences & an interest in different parts. Boys & girls may play doctor with peers. Children may begin to ask more questions of adults and can distingush between sexual and nonsexual touches by age 7.
9 - 11 Years Old
There is usually a disinterest in the opposite sex & children in this age group may view sex as “nasty” or “gross”. May talk about sex with friends & engage in “bathroom talk” &/or sexual jokes. Generally ask fewer questions of adults & gain information from friends.
12 - 17 Years Old
Boys seek information from books & magazines, girls from friends & media. Masturbation is common in boys & girls may begin to sexualize their dress/mannerisms. By age 15, boys & girls are exploring sex appeal.
So, what are the signs of sexual abuse? It is important to understand that the presence of some symptoms does not always mean abuse has occurred but does warrant attention.
- Social withdraw
- Sleeping and eating issues
- Poor peer relationships
- Reluctance to participate in recreational activities
- Acting out
- Preoccupation with sex organs of self, parents or other children
- Sexual sophistication beyond their years (knowledge and language)
- Sexualized behavior (touching others inappropriately)
- Attempts to run away
- Drug/alcohol use
- Difficulty walking and sitting
- Torn clothing
- Stained or bloody underwear
- Pain or itching in the genital area
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Early pregnancy
- Urinary tract infections
- Bleeding, cracks or tears around orifices
- Psychosomatic complaints (frequent stomach aches, headaches, etc)
- Gagging, vomiting
- Bed wetting or soiling once toilet training is completed
If you are noticing odd behaviors but aren’t sure what’s causing it, it may be time to call a professional who is trained to talk with children to help them feel safe and heard. Contacting your child’s doctor or Lotus could be a good start if they haven’t opened up to you about abuse.
A child who does confide in you about sexual abuse needs to know they are being heard and believed. Thank them for telling you and praise the child’s courage. Then, seek help from professionals. You can contact us with our 24-Hour Helpline at any time: 1-800-928-7273.