From Don Moseley, Executive Director, Ralston House
Children deserve to be safe. And yet, every day, children are being abused - sexually, physically and emotionally. When a child or teen makes an outcry of abuse, police bring them to Ralston House (RH) - a safe, child-friendly environment where they can tell their story of abuse in the greatest detail and not be retraumatized in the process. Children and teens who have undergone horrendous, traumatic events have a comfortable, non-intimidating place to tell their stories so that investigators have the evidence they need to take perpetrators off the streets. Interviews are recorded on DVD for evidence if the case goes to trial. A child's story of abuse - recalling taste, touch, and visuals - is powerful for a jury to see and hear the truth of what happened.
RH initially and primarily handled child sex assault cases, and now investigators bring in child witnesses for every child death case, cases where children have witnessed their brothers and sisters being abused, tortured, even murdered. Due to staff expertise, we are asked to interview older adults who are being abused, adult rape victims for whom a police station would be too traumatic, teens who were trafficked and adult victims with development disabilities.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being, suggests that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the U.S. These adverse childhood experiences, such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence, can go undetected due to shame, secrecy, and social taboo, which prevent people from talking about such subjects. Ralston House and the child advocacy model helps bring child sexual abuse to light. When a child tells his or her story, the healing process begins. Our mission is to stop the abuse and start the healing.
No one wants to think about or talk about what we at Ralston House face every day, but only by facing these issues together can we protect children and hold perpetrators accountable.
Remember the children of our community depend on all of us.