GUIDE FOR FAMILIES & CAREGIVERS
The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center is a safe place where children are interviewed about what has happened to them. We understand that this can be an anxious time for you and your family.
The CAC team wants to help you feel comfortable by addressing some questions you may have before your visit.
Should I talk to my child before the interview at the CAC?
Although it may be hard to hear, if the child brings up the abuse, listen without commenting or questioning. Write down what the child said.
Do not coach your child prior to the interview.
Avoid talking with others (in person or on the phone) about the abuse in front of your child.
What will happen during your visit to the CAC?
You and your child will be greeted and welcomed to the Child Advocacy Center.
We will explain our services and answer any questions you or your child may have.
You will receive an informational flyer and some forms, including a release form that a team member from the CAC will help you complete.
Your child will be interviewed by a specialized trained professional. The interview is monitored and recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened.
Follow up after the interview may include recommendations such as:
Medical exam (if needed)
Other services, as needed
What should I say to my child AFTER the interview?
After the interview, let your child know that you support them by saying:
“I am PROUD of you.”
“You were BRAVE to tell.”
“What happened is NOT your fault.”
“I BELIEVE you.”
“I am sorry this happened to you.”
“I’m going to do everything I can to HELP you and PROTECT you.”
SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS…
Can I watch the interview?
No. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and investigation.
What happens after the interview?
Your investigating team will meet with you and answer your questions. They will recommend the next steps that should be taken by you to protect your child. A report will be sent to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office who will review the case and determine how to proceed.
Do we need to go to counseling?
Some children do and some children do not. Every child is unique in how they cope with their experiences. Your CAC team will listen and provide referral information for you. If counseling is recommended, it is very important to your child’s recovery that you work with a therapist specifically trained in trauma and abuse.
Will my child need a medical exam?
Based on the allegation or the interview, the members of the investigative team may recommend a medical evaluation. For many children, knowing their bodies are okay is a huge relief. We have a local pediatrician with specialized training who conducts the medical evaluations for your child.
10 SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE
Child abuse thrives when good people decide it’s none of their business. LEARN THE SIGNS OF ABUSE.
Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.
Changes in behavior
Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
Returning to earlier behaviors
Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
Fear of going home
Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.
Changes in eating
The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or loss.
Changes in sleeping
Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
Changes in school performance and attendance
Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the child’s injuries from authorities.
Lack of personal care or hygiene
Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
Inappropriate sexual behaviors
Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.
These aren’t the only signs, but they’re great examples of what to look out for, what to ask kids and family members questions about, and what types of changes in behavior you can expect to put yourself in the prevention mindset.