Local organization helps children cope with trauma after abuse

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – “I started seeing Larry when I was 12 years old for back pain.”

“I didn’t know who to tell and I was scared nobody would believe me.”

“For 13 years I didn’t think anything different until September 2016.”

“I knew that procedure, he had done that procedure to me.”

“I am so ashamed that I was so naive not to know what was happening to me.”

That is just some of the testimony a judge heard in court Tuesday, from dozens of women, some who say they were only kids when Larry Nassar abused them.

Many of them, now adults with kids of their own, say they are torn up inside, that it took them this long to face their abuse, and their abuser.

But according to Alex Brace, the executive director of Small Talk, it can be especially difficult for kids to come forward in situations of abuse like this one.

“For kids it’s very difficult, because often times they have a connection to their offender or their abuser, so just being able to tell in and of itself can be very difficult,” Brace said.

Small Talk works with local law enforcement to help children who are victims of abuse.

“Any time that a child discloses that they’ve been sexually or physically abused they get referred to us by law enforcement and they go through what’s called a forensic interview,” Brace said.

During that interview, trained professionals talk to the victims in a child-friendly environment while law enforcement watches from another room.

This way, the child will not have to relive the details of their abuse over and over again, during multiple interviews.

“It lessens the ability to be traumatized by the whole process of going through this,” Brace said.

Small Talk also provides free counseling to make sure children have a safe place to work through what happened to them.

“That’s really their opportunity to unpack some of the trauma they’ve been through, to cope with it and deal with it,” Brace said.

Despite what we’ve seen with Larry Nassar, where this kind of abuse can still burden many victims for the rest of their lives, Brace says if they can help even one child understand that their voice matters, it’s worth it.

“We can help children feel comfortable enough to come forward and disclose when there has been abuse that happened,” Brace said. “And to know there’s a place in their community that will be there to help them through the whole process. I think that’s our goal, that’s what we want to do for everybody here.”