Yes. According to Texas law, every adult who suspects abuse must report it to the proper agency. This could mean a call to Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement. The responding legal agency will investigate the case to determine what if any further action needs to be taken. To make a report to Child Protective Services click here or call (1-800-252-5400)
The most important thing is to first remain calm and believe what the child is saying. While it may feel natural to challenge the child's story, ask for more details, have the child repeat the story, have a reaction of anger, fear, or sadness, or discuss the alleged abuse with others in front of the child, these responses can actually damage and negatively influence the child's outcry and any necessary investigation. It is important that the child not repeat the outcry any more than necessary. Adults should immediately contact Child Protective Services (1-800-252-5400) and/or law enforcement so a forensic interview can be arranged. Even suspected abuse should be reported so a highly detailed and corroborated account of the alleged abuse are not necessary for a report and if necessary an investigation.
A forensic interview is a recorded official fact-finding interview given to a child by a trained professional forensic interviewer when there is an allegation of child abuse or neglect. It is not conducted by a law enforcement officer or Child Protective Services investigator. In Eastland County forensic interviews are conducted at the Eastland County Children's Advocacy Center and are used by law enforcement and Child Protective Services as part of their investigation. The interview is conducted in an location and in a manner that allows the child to talk about the alleged abuse in a way that is warm, caring, and most importantly non-leading. It allows the child to tell the story once and use the language they feel most comfortable with.
Domestic is a pattern of abusive and controlling behavior where the offender and victim are dating, married, or family. Also know as Intimate Partner Violence, Dating Violence, or Family Violence, this type of abuse can take many forms including emotional, mental, psychological, sexual, financial, or physical abuse or stalking. Victims may experience one or many types of abuse in a relationship over a course of the relationship. The simplest definition is when one person uses some type of manipulation, threat, fear, intimidation, or actual violence to establish power and control over the other person.
Domestic violence victims stay for many reasons, and all are to be treated with respect. Some reasons may include: fear, lack of options or access to resources (financial, transportation, shelter, support systems), drug or alcohol addiction, cultural, social, or religious beliefs, loss of self esteem, children, or a sincere belief the abuse can be managed or stopped at some point. However, a victim is not to blame because he/she chooses to stay in an abusive relationship.
A safety plan is the first crucial step for protection for a domestic violence victim. Victims of domestic violence may apply for an emergency protective order if the abuser has been arrested and is in jail for family violence. These typically have a protective measure for 31-90 days. Final protective orders for family violence can also be applied for and are good for up to 2 years and can be renewed. Abusers can be arrested for violating the protective order. Victims of domestic violence and their children may also be transported to a domestic violence shelter if the victim believes a protective order will not stop the abuser from trying to hurt them in the future. Crime Victim Assistance Center advocates can assist victims with safety planning, protective order applications, and transportation to shelters.
The first step is always to make sure you are in a safe place. Following safety, immediate medical attention may be needed. Sexual assaults victims can receive medical treatment by SANE to gather any evidence on their person, receive services for any injuries sustained in the assault, and have testing and medications for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. While it may seem natural to bathe following the assault, you are encouraged to avoid changing clothes or bathing until a medical exam has been done. If you would like to report the sexual assault, you can do so by contacting 911. The most important thing is to know that this assault was not your fault. Crime Victim Assistance Center advocates are available for crisis intervention, medical and legal accompaniment, and counseling.
No. Sexual assault victims have the option to not file a police report on the sexual assault and still receive a SANE exam, medical treatment, and Crime Victim Assistance Center services. In addition, the CVAC will not report your assault for you unless it involves child or elder abuse.
SANE is an acronym for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. A SANE nurse is trained to perform sexual assault exams that are used in police investigations. If a victim is choosing to report, the contents of the exam will be sent to the investigating law enforcement agency. If a victim is unsure about reporting, a SANE exam can be done and sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety where it will be held for two years. During that time a victim may choose to file a report and have the contents of the exam used in the investigation.
The Eastland County Crisis Center (ECCC) is the original umbrella organization began in 1994. Under the ECCC is the Crime Victim Assistance Center (CVAC) and the Children's Advocacy Center (CAC). The CVAC provides services to all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The CAC operates as a fact-finding investigative tool and as an advocate agency for abused and neglected children.
This is a small community. All CVAC staff, volunteers, and clients sign a strict confidentiality policy. This prohibits discussing the client, case, or identifying details without written permission from the client. The exceptions are mandatory reporting cases. CVAC takes great care to maintain privacy. In addition, we attempt to uphold our client's dignity by utilizing a different office space for each client.
Because of the nature of our work, and to protect the safety of our clients, we do not disclose the exact location of our offices. For directions, please call the Hotline at 254-629-3223. Our mailing address is: PO Box 1010 Eastland, TX 76448.