JRI Programs Help Fall River and New Bedford Trauma Survivors Recover


Children and teens on the South Coast receive the emotional support they need after dealing with traumatic events through weightlifting, yoga and community outreach.

The Bristol County Children’s Advocacy Center in Fall River and the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) Center for Trauma and Embodiment provide services and connection opportunities for young abuse and trauma survivors and their families. Both programs offer a variety of programs to better meet the needs of each survivor.

The CAC is just one of more than 100 programs offered by JRI. As Bristol County CAC, operating out of Fall River, it serves as the emergency response center for child sexual abuse.

The Center for Trauma and Embodiment is dedicated to research, development and training of providers to help trauma survivors “safely reconnect to their bodies so they can engage more fully in their lives.” .

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Physical healing through movement

The Center for Trauma and Embodiment helps trauma survivors by offering Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY), Trauma Informed Weight Lighting (TIWL) and ReScripted, a practice that uses the power of play, drama and movement. David Emerson, Director of TCTSY and Founder of TCTSY works with all ages to incorporate body-centered treatment into the emotional healing of trauma survivors.

By incorporating yoga into recovery, Emerson has discovered that it opens up old ways to connect the mind and body before a traumatic incident. Like those who have struggled with drug addiction, a trauma survivor may neglect their physical health due to the emphasis on mental recovery. Trauma survivors face a dynamic of struggling for survival while shutting down parts of themselves.

“Yoga is very intentional,” said Emerson. “Trauma disconnects body and mind, an experience outside the body, shutting down parts of the body to survive. Yoga reconnects parts of yourself.”

Her model of yoga is an evidence-based treatment for complex trauma and complex PTSD, based on research conducted with adults aged 18 and older. Studies for children are underway, but Emerson began implementing a youth program in 2006, without any research, only anecdotal customer feedback.

“We learned more about trauma and to provide good service to people as soon as possible,” said Emerson.

At this time, yoga classes are only offered online. Although the proven research is based on adult survivors of complex trauma – including early sexual trauma, military and military focused on women – yoga classes are open to anyone, but they tend to focus on this specific population. . There is a $ 12 fee, but Emerson said they never turn anyone away and encourage attendees to donate what they can.

The weightlifting program offers a more dynamic approach to physical recovery. It uses explosive movements rather than meditation, and some survivors may prefer this program because it offers “clear choices for people to be in charge of what they do with their bodies,” said Emerson.

Emerson said survivors often feel an unclear sense of their body: sometimes it’s nothing, and other times an individual may feel over-stimulated. He said weightlifting helps survivors notice and focus what they are feeling in their bodies and connect their minds to their muscles.

Through the programs, Emerson has noticed tremendous improvement, especially among the youth. He sees them connecting with their bodies and making a choice about what to do with their body. “This is what you are looking for, it is very satisfying,” he said.

Yoga, weight lifting, and the performing arts have created a triad of a new approach to healing, one that doesn’t require talking, something many survivors find difficult.

“We wanted to be careful of this from the start,” Emerson said. “Do your due diligence, the trauma is so bad and we don’t want to engage in something just because we think it’s right.”

Offer protection, healing, prevention and education to young people

The mission of the CAC has three components: protection, healing, and prevention and education. Nationally, CACs are designed to support survivors without re-traumatizing them by asking them what happened.

The ACC reception area for its Fall River office.

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When interviewing an abused child, a trained forensic investigator will wear a wire, which a detective, pediatric nurse and other clinical staff will watch via live video from another room. Through a series of indirect questions, the child will reveal as much as possible of his trauma without additional pressure from the investigator. The fact that only one person speaks with the child avoids re-traumatizing him.

Recommendations are only received from law enforcement, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, and the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office. Each year, the CAC sees between 600 and 800 cases through sexual abuse referrals, and the cases primarily originate from New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton and Attleboro.

The CAC Education and awareness.  Children in Bristol County helped create public service announcements for Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (in April of each year).

As part of the healing process, children who go through ACC may be exposed to art therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and post-stress disorder training. traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that switches to psychotherapy.

The ACC’s Fall River office is currently undergoing renovations to accommodate an expanded waiting room and family suites, new forensic interview rooms, special child-focused medical suites, and clinical treatment rooms. in mental health with sensory and motor arousal regulation (SMART) treatment panels.

For young people, these renovations also include a space for painting and other art forms, a therapeutic dollhouse, yoga balls, balance beams and more sensory objects, said Lara Stone, co-director. Bristol County ACC Executive.

“All staff meet the child wherever he is,” Stone said. “The children have been cared for for so long that it can be difficult to cope.”

The CAC Logging Group.  These young women at the center are pictured with Katie Wordell on the far left, a family lawyer, and Brittannie Moroz on the far right, a HARP clinician.

The CAC continues to operate during its construction, serving the 20 towns in Bristol County. At present, the CCC does not accept recommendations off the street, but is committed to raising awareness and warning any person or organization.

The CAC with assistance dog.  Here's a sample photo with CKC staff, Somerset Middle School, School Resource Officer, Brendan Hague, and the Raider service dog.

Stone said some staff have been trained at Yale University for child and family traumatic stress intervention. In addition, JRI recently received a $ 500,000 grant to train residential care workers across the country in trauma-informed care.

If you or someone you know is being harmed or in need of support, the CAC encourages people to call 1-800-792-5200 for assistance.

Standard-Times editor-in-chief Kerri Tallman can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @kerri_tallman for links to recent articles.

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