New children’s advocacy center eases trauma for child abuse victims

It's not easy to report abuse, but a new center in Greenfield is making it less painful.

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In each of our communities, children are being abused by their parents or other caretakers.

Friday morning, at the Country Club of Greenfield, there were posters with just the photo of a child’s eyes were haunting. They served as therapy for victims of child abuse. Under the photos were descriptions of the abuse, how the children reported it, and their message to other children who may be in their situation. The photos were an effort from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County. They were for community leaders and private donors from Western Massachusetts to read and reflect on. Here in Western Massachusetts, child abuse is everywhere, and it’s done at the hands of parents or others who are close to the children. It’s not easy to report abuse, but a new center in Greenfield is making it less painful.

“It’s all about making it easier and reducing trauma for these children who do disclose child abuse, and so when you have a CAC in your community, it greatly reduces the trauma to children,” said Susan Loehn, director of the Hampshire County CAC.

CAC is the Children’s Advocacy Center: A safe place for children to report their abuse once, with law enforcement, medical experts and state case workers all listening in from a different room. Before this center for the Franklin County and North Quabbin Area, located at 56 Wisdom Way in Greenfield, children would have to relive their horror multiple times as they retold their experience to numerous agencies.

“They’d have to go to Hampshire County, they’d have to go for medical exams in Springfield or Worcester so now we have a place where they can have a medical exam, they can talk, and also what the center is going to do is a lot of child abuse prevention initiatives,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan told 22News.

In just the last few months since the CAC opened back in February, 39 victims of child abuse have already been helped.

“Ten were from Greenfield, seven were from Athol and then the rest are scattered through the different towns,” said Irene Woods, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin Area.

The CAC has also educated the community on how to identify and report abuse. It’s a true community effort: A majority of the funding comes from private donations.

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