The Family Healing Center
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month; a bittersweet acknowledgment of victims who have been violated in every way. Can you even imagine? For just a moment, put yourself in her place–she was abducted and beaten, raped and held captive; finally rescued, she is delivered to the emergency room. For what seems like an eternity, she waits in a room; frightened and alone. Imagine how long one minute must seem for her–a victim of a brutal rape. Imagine a thousand minutes as she waits to be examined by hospital personnel in a cold sterile hospital room. Can you see her? Now imagine…that she is 5. For far too many, this is reality, not an imaginary scene.
As the Police Chief of Reedley I know that this terrible crime happens too often to victims of all ages throughout our Central Valley. The statistics are more than startling: In 2009, Fresno County ranked 7th in the state in the number of domestic violence calls with over 12,400 calls. Even more startling is that over 70% of those included child abuse. Keep in mind that only one in ten incidents ever gets reported.
Once reported, the process begins. Currently, the procedural process for victims of rape, regardless of age, results in the victim being interviewed by multiple (at times up to 25) organizations and agencies, throughout the investigative process. The victim is then required to travel to numerous locations and repeatedly share these horrific details with total strangers. Research indicates that victims often feel re-traumatized by the very process itself, further prolonging the beginning of their healing process.
The high statistics and the scenario above are just some of the reasons why we have joined together to create this new non-profit center, appropriately named, the Family Healing Center. Supported by a unique group that includes those from law enforcement, health care, victims advocates, community members, families and others, the Family Healing Center will offer those critical services, such as exams, interviews, education, counseling, and support for the victims and their families all at the same facility, under one roof and in a serene and welcoming setting. Indeed, this is a revolutionary new concept for the care and treatment of those who have witnessed or been the victims of sexual or physical abuse.
Nowhere in the Valley is a single facility able to address all the needs of those affected until now. The Family Healing Center will offer this innovate way to serve women and children, while also providing a hand-in-glove method of coordinating investigation and intervention services.
The vision for the Family Healing Center is that all women and children who are victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and those who have witnessed abuse will be treated sensitively by police, prosecution, and protection agencies working harmoniously through the professionals at the center. By offering the necessary exams, counseling, education and support for the victim and their family under one roof, our goal is to make a positive and significant difference in their recovery. This turnkey solution is revolutionary for both victims and prosecutors alike.
During this month of Sexual Assault Awareness, the Family Healing Center will hold a silent auction and fundraiser that will showcase a preview of the facility on Thursday, April 28th from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM at 7025 N. Chestnut Suite 102, in Fresno. It seems appropriate that the first showing of the Family Healing Center will coincide with the month that is designated to acknowledge those who have been victims and to provide education and outreach to our neighborhoods and communities.
To learn more about all that the Family Healing Center will offer or if you are interested in donating, please call CEO and Founder Margie Jessen, R.N., M.S.N., F.N.P. at (559) 324-9100.
Steve Wright is the Police Chief of Reedley and the Chairman of the Board of the Family Healing Center-Margie Jessen, R.N., M.S.N., F.N.P is the Founder and CEO of the Family Healing Center.