In April, there's a national focus on child abuse and sexual assaults.
Local organizations, which treat these patients, say abuse cases have skyrocketed this month.
The Gingerbread House is one of the agencies that helps these children recover, and get their abuser behind bars. Its employees interview the children, and counsel them up until the age of 18.
“Counseling is extremely important for children who have been abused physically or sexually,” said Alex Person with the Gingerbread House.
“If they’re not able to talk to someone about it, know that it’s not their fault, know that they didn’t do anything wrong, understand that’s not the way they’re supposed to be treated, a lot of times they cant have healthy relationships in their adult life.”
The Cara Center also helps these child abuse victims, by collecting evidence through a recorded microscopic exam.
If you are helping someone who has been abused sexually or physically, the most important thing to do is get them to the hospital as soon as possible.
“If you are an adult patient, you can have collection up to 120 hours which is five days,” said Olivia Jones, Executive Director of the Forensic Nurse Examiners of Louisiana, Inc.
“If you are a pediatric patient, which is 13 and younger, you can have evidence collected up to 72 hours.”
The sexual assault nurse examiners collect DNA evidence when victims arrive at the hospital; they say there are certain guidelines you should follow.
“If you think you were sexually assaulted, the most thing to do is not take a shower or bath, bring the clothing that you were wearing during the time of the assault with you to the emergency room,” said Morgan Matlock, the Clinical Coordinator for Forensic Nurse Examers of Louisiana, Inc.
“We like for you not to brush your teeth or eat or drink or smoke a cigarette. “
Currently there's a shortage of forensic nurse examiners. They're hoping more registered nurses will step forward to help. To become certified, you have to be an RN for two years. Certification involves a 40 hour class, followed by 120 community clinical hours. The nurses work in seven northwest Louisiana parishes. So far, in 2014, the nurse said they’ve helped 70 patients.
There's also a sexual assault support group that meets every third Monday at 6 p.m. at the Caddo Coroner's Office.
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