Blog post written by: Elizabeth Scott Breedlove, Family Support Specialist Graduate Intern at the Child Protection Center. Elizabeth is also a Master’s of Social Work student at the University of Kansas.
Elizabeth is finishing up her internship with the CPC this month, and volunteered to write this blog post in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thank you, Elizabeth!
I have been working in mental health for the past 10 years. My career began with adolescent psychology within the school district and individual clientele’s homes to working with acute care crisis adult patients with severe and persistent mental illness in an inpatient setting and dual diagnosis clients in an outpatient setting. I began to notice that many of my patients were coming to me with a history of sexual abuse. I began to realize that my patients had survived very serious abuse that had gone untreated, unreported, and gravely misunderstood.
Realizing that I was very much a part of this misunderstanding, when I began my Master’s program at KU, I requested to work with victims of sexual abuse and their families first hand. This brought me to my first experience working inside a Child Advocacy Center. I am trained as a Family Support Specialist at the Child Protection Center (CPC). I meet with the non-offending family members/care-providers of a child who has been sexually abused, physically abused, or witnessed a homicide. I provide these courageous families with support and crisis counseling to meet them in their moment of grief and hardship. I also provide families with resources they might not have had access to, such as referrals for counseling, clothing, shelter, and mental health services.
From my experience interning at CPC, I now feel that I will be able to better serve my clients and patients in my future social work career. I have also been exposed to the education of child sexual abuse and its prevalence and effects – which has enabled me to raise awareness in the classroom and among my colleagues. This experience has truly been invaluable.
During National Child Abuse Prevention month I have continually been encouraging the parents that come in to talk openly to their children about keeping their bodies safe. When these issues are openly discussed at home by caregivers, then a child feels free to ask questions that may be confusing for a child. It also creates a safe atmosphere in which a child feels they can tell their caregivers if something is making them uncomfortable that otherwise a parent may not have known.