The mission of our youth programming is to end intergenerational violence. The services are focused on prevention as well as restoring the lives of youth impacted by violence. All services for youth are free and confidential.
What is an advocate?:
At Prevail, services are provided by advocates, not therapists, counselors, or psychologists. A youth advocate’s role is to educate and support kids and teens who have experienced crime or abuse. A youth advocate does not diagnose mental health conditions or provide medications. Youth advocates know that a youth’s previous experiences impact their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors now. Youth advocates seek to guide clients as they develop a better understanding of the crime or abuse they have been through, developing a context for the situation and reducing feelings of guilt, anger, and sadness. Youth advocates use games, activities, and art to foster an understanding of emotions, coping skills, safety, self-esteem, and communication patterns so youth can make the best decisions for themselves as they work to achieve their goals, in spite of what they have experienced. Youth advocates collaborate with other service providers who may be involved with a child or teen in order to increase communication and ensure that each client’s needs are being met. Youth advocates provide a safe space for kids and teens to talk about their experiences, to feel validated, and begin to heal from the crime or abuse that has occurred in their life.
In addition, youth advocates do not participate in custody or divorce proceedings and do not provide parenting assessments, letters recommending placement, supervised visitation, or testimony regarding a youth’s experiences. If this is a need for your family, we encourage you to find a therapist, counselor, or psychologist who has skills in these matters and is licensed to provide those services. Youth advocates also do not provide legal counsel or suggestions, but can provide referrals to attorneys in the area that would meet your needs.
Individual Services for Youth:
While the focus of Prevail's services is support groups, Prevail does provide a variety of individual supportive services as well. These services may be scheduled as appointments and take place in the office.
Court Support – Prevail provides court support for individuals whose experiences lead them through the criminal justice system. Some of the youth who experience sexual assault will attend meeting with the Prosecutor, testify in court, and attend different court hearings. These can be emotional experiences. Prevail Youth Advocates can help prepare youth and their families for the court process and the youth’s role in court. Prevail Advocates will also attend court with clients to provide emotional support. Prevail Advocates cannot speak on behalf of clients in court.
Hospital Response – Advocates at Prevail, can also respond to the hospital if a child has experienced physical or sexual abuse which includes injury. Sometimes this might mean that a child will have a pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Exam. Advocates at Prevail, are trained to understand the steps of this exam and want to help youth and their family to understand the process. Additionally, advocates can provide emotional support, safety planning, and connections to community resources to help families and children experiencing this crisis.
Goal Development – During a crisis, a number of different challenges can arise for youth and their families. When youth come to Prevail, they each get a chance to create goals for what they want to change in their life. Sometimes goals are physical needs - including needing housing or employment. Other goals are emotional, learning how to manage feelings about the abuse or improving communication between family members. Prevail’s Youth Advocates seek to support each child and teen in achieving their goals.
Safety Planning – One goal of Prevail is to increase safety for each child and teen in services. This includes physical, emotional, and sexual safety. Creating a specific safety plan with each youth, looking at all the options available, is a priority at Prevail. After creating a safety plan, advocates will continue to converse with youth and their families to try to continue to increase safety. Safety plans can include identification of support people, how to call law enforcement, individual rights, protective order information, coping mechanisms to use to calm down in a stressful environment, and more.
Prevail provides psychoeducational support groups for children (ages 6-12) and adolescents (ages 13-18). Our groups focus on assisting kids, who have experienced or witnessed family violence/distress as well as sexual assault. Teenagers can attend groups that focus on family violence/distress, unhealthy dating relationships and sexual assault. All participants must have an intake prior to attending. In our family violence/distress and sexual assault groups for children, we ask that the non-offending parent(s)/guardian(s) also attend.
Prevail is home to Odle, a full service facility dog. Odle was trained by the Indiana Canine Assistance Network and certified through Assistance Dogs International. Odle started his career at Prevail in March 2012. This double doodle loves tennis balls, marshmallows, stuffed animals and spending time with our youth. He has over thirty verbal commands and is currently learning the American Sign for most of his commands. He will be excited to meet you!
Child Advocacy Center Response:
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) were created to provide a comfortable, non-threatening environment for youth to be interviewed about concerns for different types of abuse. Before CACs were created, children or youth may have been interviewed at intimidating places (i.e. police stations), by multiple people or by non-trained interviewers. These circumstances sometimes led children to feel uncomfortable and reduced the likelihood of disclosure of abuse, even when abuse was happening. Now, CACs provide a safe, comfortable environment. In Hamilton County, our Child Advocacy Center has trained forensic interviewers who specifically interview anyone under the age of 18. These interviews are attended by a multi-disciplinary response team which can include: Forensic Interviewer, Prosecutor, Detective, Department of Child Services Case Assessor, and an Advocate. This approach assists the team in collaborating for the best options for each family. Advocates are not connected to the civil or legal system. The youth advocates at Prevail respond to provide support, discuss safety options and services available in the family’s community.
Safe Dates is an evidence-based curriculum, which is utilized to teach teen dating violence in the school setting. Prevail provides this curriculum to seventh and eighth grade students throughout Hamilton County at no cost.
Safety Planning for Your Children:
Prevail works to reduce youth’s experiences of crime and abuse by providing information about safety to families. Our definition of safety expands to areas past just physical protection to include emotional, sexual, and internet safety. In these cases, knowledge is power.
Youth are constantly surrounded by technology, with easy access to the internet via phones, tablets, video game consoles, and computers. At Prevail, we know that there are tremendously beneficial aspects to this connection to information, but this also comes with some challenges.
- Ensure your privacy settings on all social media websites are set to the highest level, restricting the amount of information available to be found.
- Reduce the amount of personal information you share online, especially with strangers and acquaintances.
- Just because you delete something off your computer, does not mean it disappears. Posts, pictures, and messages can live forever online.
- Be cautious using apps like Snapchat. Things can be saved by the receiver of those messages and they never truly go away.
- Anonymity can never be guaranteed online. Do not chat with someone you do not know.
- Do not meet someone in person that you met online without discussing safety with an adult you trust. Never meet them alone.
- Threats, harassment, and intimidation can occur online and can carry the same consequences as if those incidences happened in person. If you are posting these things, you can face penalties. If things are posted about you, please notify an adult so appropriate action can take place.
- Place computers in shared spaces, like family rooms or kitchens, to increase supervision. Create house rules that tablets, game systems, and cell phones are used in shared spaces and are turned off and placed outside of bedrooms at night.
It is important to discuss these concerns with your family, highlighting the importance of telling an adult if anything concerning is experienced while online. We provide education about technology safety with all clients, as we see a growing gap between what is understood about technology and what youth are doing online.
While parents try to ensure their child is in situations where they will not experience inappropriate sexual contact, there is no way to guarantee the actions of others. At Prevail, we feel that educating youth in the following areas will help them understand the safety concerns regarding their body and empower them to share concerns if they arise.
- Teach your children the medical terms for their private areas. You and your children need to be comfortable saying ‘breasts’, ‘vulva/vagina’, ‘penis’, and ‘anus’ so they have the words to talk about their body parts in a way that others understand.
- Communicate to your children that their body belongs to themselves and they have the right to tell someone “No” if a touch makes them uncomfortable, whether it is a hug, tickling, or a touch of a sexual nature. No matter who touches them.
- Ensure your children understand that sharing or viewing nude pictures online is never safe and if they are asked for or if they see these images they are to tell you immediately.
- Explain the difference between a ‘secret’ and a ‘surprise’. Surprises like a birthday gift are okay to keep to yourself, but a secret like being touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable is not safe to keep.
- If your child discloses that they have been touched in a way that makes them uncomfortable, remain calm. Ask open-ended questions, but do not push for information. Contact local law enforcement or Department of Child Services (Indiana number: 1-800-800-5556) to report the information and determine next steps. Praise your child for telling you and communicate to them that they are not in trouble and you are not angry at them for telling.
These topics may be uncomfortable to discuss with your child, but it is important for children to have an understanding of this information so they can protect themselves and communicate their experiences with you in a way that everyone understands.
At Prevail, we refer to emotional safety as protecting our thoughts and feelings from being hurt by others.
- Identify a positive influence in your life that can be a support person for you.
- Get involved in activities that bring you joy, like a hobby, sport, or club.
- Feel confident in what you think and feel. Everyone’s feelings and thoughts are different.
- Understand that all of your feelings are okay. It is what you do with them that counts.
- Stand strong in your beliefs. If someone does not support you, you do not have to continue to talk to them.
- Learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships, as well as red flags and inequality in relationships. Understanding this information will help you understand what to look for when getting to know a new person.
Physical safety involves protecting your body from being hurt and reducing the likelihood you are in a situation where harm could occur.
- Call 911 if you are in an unsafe situation.
- Avoid getting in the middle of a fight.
- Stay out of small spaces, like closets, where you could become trapped.
- Tell a safe adult if you have been hurt by another person.
- Keep your cell phone charged so you can always make a call.
- Pack a bag with essentials (clothing, shoes, bank cards, identification) in case you need to leave somewhere quickly.
No one has a right to hurt you or put you in fear. If you have or are currently experiencing any threats to your safety, an advocate can help you. Assistance is just a phone call away.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Where does group happen?
Support groups are held at Prevail’s office (1100 S. 9th St. Suite 100 Noblesville, IN 46060).
Do I have to attend the support group at the same time as my child?
It is expected that if there is a group that occurs for adults or parents at the same time as the child’s that both the child and the parent would attend. This helps to provide services for the whole family. If you have specific questions about this and your situation, please contact Prevail with questions.
Is Prevail the same as Department of Child Services (DCS or CPS)?
Prevail is NOT the same as Department of Child Services (DCS). Prevail works with the case workers at Department of Child Services, as families determine appropriate. Prevail Advocates are mandated reporters, so if there is a disclosure of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, they will report those concerns. Otherwise, Prevail is not required to share any information with DCS.
Can Prevail Advocates represent my child in a divorce and custody case?
No. Victim Advocate Privilege Law (Ind. Code § 35-37-6-9) states, “No victim, victim advocate, or victim service provider can be compelled to give testimony or produce records concerning confidential communications in any judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding.” There is another type of advocate who does gather information from individuals in the child’s life and then make a recommendation regarding child custody. These advocates are either called Court Appointed Special Advocates(CASA) or Guardian Ad Litems(GAL). To find out more about GALs in Hamilton County, visit their website: http://www.hamcogalprogram.com/
What is support group like?
Support group is a relaxing, fun environment for kids/teens to explore how to cope with the changes and challenges they have had happen in their life or family. For children, we have our Kid’s Group Room designed for kids to feel comfortable and be able to participate in many different activities. Many of our youth support groups include the use of games and crafts for the kids to interact with while they learn. We like to foster an interactive environment. Our service dog, Odle, attends several of the youth support groups at Prevail.
What is the benefit of support group compared to individual appointments or counseling?
Many kids and teens who have participated in group will say that in group they finally learned, “I am not alone.” Though they may know it in their head, it is different to hear and see their peers expressing the same thoughts and feelings. A common result of participating in group is improvement in individual appointments or counseling. Youth who may have been reluctant to engage on an individual level often are more willing to engage on a group level. Though at first people may feel nervous about attending group, they often find it easier to engage with the material in a group where they do not have to be the center of attention, unlike an individual session. Group also allows peers to challenge and encourage each other. A professional or a parent may encourage a child specifically, but teens can speak into each others’ lives in a unique way that adults may not be able to.
What are kids talking about in support group? Is my child going to be traumatized by another child’s experience?
In support group, the focus for children and teens is to learn how to cope and to process their thoughts and feelings about what has happened to them. If a child or teen starts to share specific details about a traumatic experience, they will take a break from the group and receive individual support from an advocate or volunteer at that time. They are not sharing their personal stories in group.
My children are experiencing abuse from their other parent, whom I no longer live with. How can I help my children?
First, if it is an emergency, please call 911.
Sometimes parents calling Prevail feel stuck in a situation. These situations, while common, can present with specific unique challenges for each family, therefore, if this is your situation, speaking with a Prevail Advocate can help you identify the options available for your family.