The Family Resource Center (FRC), formerly the Sexual Assault Center, will mark 30 years in the fight to eradicate child abuse and neglect, sexual assault and violence and teen pregnancy in Kershaw County.
The center provides a variety of services, from advocacy, counseling and forensic interviews/investigation to education and community outreach services, FRC Executive Director Rosalyn Moses said.
The center works with a variety of partners, including the United Way of Kershaw County, advocacy organizations such as Guardian Ad Litem and social services agencies such as the Department of Social Services, as well as law enforcement.
Ultimately, education and open lines of communication are two of the most important factors in preventing and dealing with these issues, even though Moses and Long acknowledge that such subjects are difficult for many people to discuss, especially victims.
Yet many teen parents are victims of sexual abuse, Moses said.
“There are many correlations between teen pregnancy and sexual abuse,” Moses said. “A lot of people don’t realize that, but most of the time, there’s something else going on in that situation.”
Worse, unless something can be done to break such patterns, the cycle continues through generations.
That’s where the center comes in, Moses said. Education and outreach is an important aspect of the agency’s work. Helping communities understand the ramifications of the problems, working with parents and children to recognize signs of abuse and potentially dangerous situations and how to deal with them are all part of the FRC’s outreach.
“We are major advocates of open communication,” Moses said. “If you can’t have an honest discussion about the issue, you are not really going to accomplish anything. Teens, especially, want real and honest dialogue -- if you try to sugar coat or talk around it, you’re going to turn them away.”
For example, one tendency parents often fall into is the use of euphemism -- calling certain body parts by names other than what they are, Moses noted. This is not only often confusing to children -- especially if an abuse incident occurs and the child cannot accurately explain what happened to him or her -- but it also teaches, inadvertently, that there may be something to hide or something shameful about their bodies.
The FRC can help with that, Moses said. The agency’s outreach programs are direct, but age specific.
“We help parents have those conversations,” she said.
The FRC also reaches out to children and teens with various programs. For example, the Teen Advisory Board is a program, launched last year where Kershaw County teens ages 13-19 apply to work as volunteer advisory board members of the FRC. They assist with and have an opportunity to give input on decisions regarding all teen pregnancy prevention programs including events, projects, newsletters, a teen website and other efforts, Moses said.
“They really get involved -- they’re telling their friends, their peers, getting the word out,” Moses said.
But what happens if someone is the victim of abuse, or a sexual assault?
“So many people who come to us need to know there is a safe place for them to go,” Moses said. “They are feeling so many intense emotions. They are feeling alone, frightened, confused.”
Moses knows this first hand. She was a victim, not once but twice.
She was sexually abused by a family member when she was a child; she would later find herself the victim of a sexual assault as an adult. She knows the feelings very well: the victim’s sense of shame, disbelief, fear and worse, the propensity for self-blame.
“There I was, an educated, intelligent, independent person, and yet I kept thinking, ‘how could I have let this happen?’” Moses said. “I didn’t feel I could talk about it with anyone.”
Eventually, she came to the FRC. She said it’s not at all overly dramatic to say the center saved her life.
Moses said she knew she had come to the right place when her advocate pointedly corrected a law enforcement officer who was attempting to cast some blame on Moses for allowing herself to get into that situation.
“I knew from the way she held my hand, from the way she looked in my eyes when she spoke, how she got in that person’s face, that she had my back,” Moses said.
With the center’s help, Moses was not only able to work through the experience and move forward with her life, she found a life’s calling.
“That’s why I’m here and why I’m so passionate about it,” Moses said. “Sexual abuse, sexual assault is never OK. My life could have very easily turned out for the worse.”
The FRC’s are at 1111 Broad St. in Camden. Donations are always welcome, as are volunteers. For more information call 425-4357 or go to the website at thefamilyresourcecenter.org.
The FRC hotline, which is manned 24 hours a day/7 days a week is (800) 585-4455.