Earlier this year, Kentucky River Child Advocacy Center (Care Cottage) staff, in partnership with the Rising Center, LKLP Community Action and KY-SAP, held their first-ever trauma conference covering a variety of topics designed for individuals who work with children and/or families who have faced abuse. The center’s staff continued this service and opportunity by holding another conference for community members on Nov. 7.
“We had one in April during child abuse prevention month, and we wanted this one to be more of an interactive one with questions and answers,” said Pamela Carey, the executive director of the Care Cottage, explaining that the Care Cottage staff hopes to hold the two conferences annually.
During the conference, two workshop presentations were provided, followed by a question-and-answer session. The first half of the conference, Carey said, was intended more for providers in health care fields, however others were welcome too. The second half of the conference was for the entire community, she said. The question-and-answer portion, said Carey, was for victims, abusers and care providers, so the center could better learn what needs to be done in the area, challenges people face and other issues.
To start the conference, Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Director of the Rising Center Terrah Combs and Marie Tuttle, an Early Childhood consultant, presented “Childhood Trauma and Substance Abuse.” This training highlighted the connections between trauma and substance abuse and focused on the impacts of childhood trauma on people’s social and emotional development, brain and future ability to cope with life stressors. Participants also learned about ACES study and the significance it has made while discussing the link between trauma and substance abuse during this workshop.
Kevin Deaton, a KRCC clinician and a member of the Perry County Drug Court Team, held a question-and-answer session for attendees. Deaton also emphasized that people who have experienced trauma and/or substance abuse need to continue seeking help and working on overcoming their issues.
“Just because people lose the desire to do drugs doesn’t mean it is going to stay gone. It comes back,” Deaton said, adding that it is especially true for people who don’t take necessary steps to keep addiction away, such as church, treatment and AA or NA meetings.
In the session, many health care providers brought up questions regarding how to help patients overcome transportation and employment issues once treatment and/or jail time is over. Community members currently going through counseling sessions were also heard from during this session.
To close the conference out, Victoria Halcomb, a victim advocate at the Care Cottage, presented “Darkness to Light,” an award-winning Stewards of Children prevention training session that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and responsibly react to child sexual abuse. During this training, participants heard about survivors who lived through child sexual abuse, experienced the immediate and long-term effects and were able to find healing, as well as experts who work with children and families and confront abuse on a daily basis.
The “Darkness to Light” training, Carey said, is available to anybody in the community and it is free. The training she said, is evidence-based, is very flexible, and participants can obtain their CEUs through it. Anyone can request to go through the training, including churches, schools and businesses, she said.
The Care Cottage staff, said Carey, is hoping to hold two more trauma conferences next year and each year after hopefully making it an annual event.