A six-week confidential support group for parents, partners and adult siblings of sexually abused children begins next month. “Connecting the Dots” is provided by the Center for Safety & Change in partnership with the Rockland County District Attorney’s office. The free program begins January 8, 2013 at the Spirit of Rockland Special Victims Center, which is located on the grounds of Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.
The numbers are staggering. Although not specifically available for Rockland County, Center for Safety & Change Director of Special Victims Services Kiera Pollock said statistics show that across the country one in four girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. She said families needed to know the signs, risks and post traumatic stress reactions associated with the abuse. “Connecting the Dots” is specifically created for relatives of children who have been sexually abused.
“We kind of conceived this program based on what parents told us would be helpful for them,” said Pollock. “Overall the group is for parents, to give parents a safe space to process this.”
She explained the group would give them a supportive environment where they could talk about their experience and it will be educational and informative. People are encouraged to attend to meet other families; learn about ways to help children and those around them heal from the abuse and its effects, and to increase knowledge about sex offenders and community safety. Lauren Steinfeld, LCSW, and another social worker from the Center will facilitate along with speakers from law enforcement and Rockland County Child Protective Services.
The support group will meet weekly on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning January 8 and ending on February 12. Pollock said this is the first time “Connecting the Dots” is being offered and that the Rockland County Department of Mental Health is also assisting.
Those interested in either registering for the program or receiving more information can contact Lauren Steinfeld at 845-634-3344. Children will not be permitted to attend the sessions. Childcare is available while the support group meets but must be requested in advance.
Center for Safety & Change is a non-profit; grass roots organization serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and all violent crimes. It is located at 9 Johnsons Lane in New City. The 24-hour hotline is 845-634-3344.