Sexual abuse is a complex subject for children and adults to talk about. Since 1992, The Esperanza House has provided a safe and comfortable environment for people of all ages to do so.
Facilities at Esperanza House are tailored to make investigative interviews, on child sexual abuse cases, less intimidating for children. Esperanza House is decorated in a manner that lets a child feel at home â€” literally.
When victims walk in, they will not be confronted with a hospital-like environment or clinic. Instead, they will feel right at home. Esperanza Houseâ€™s main facility includes a living room, an area that resembles a childâ€™s playroom, and several interview rooms.Â There is also an observation office, where law enforcement and Esperanza staff can watch and piece together facts from their experience.
â€œWeâ€™re strictly doing interviews of child abuse victims,â€ Mike Turner, executive director of Esperanza House, Inc., said. Over the years, weâ€™ve started to add other programs, like the SANE program.â€
The SANE program, Sexual Assualt Nurse Examiner, is for for individuals of all ages. SANE workers collect forensic evidence on victims of sexual assualt, document injuries and proactively treat them for sexually transmitted diseases. Esperanza House also works throughout the community, by raising awareness about sexual assualt prevention in schools and at civic agencies throughout the area and in Artesia.
The Esperanza House facility has its own inhouse counseling staf f that work with children and adults. Turner estimates that Esperanza House handles about 70 sexual assualt cases annually, in addition to interviewing about 150 kids during that time span.
â€œWhen weâ€™re talking to kids about what happen to them, the main thing we try to do is gather the facts â€” as they know it,â€ Turner said. â€œWe assure them that this is not their fault … they had no control over the situation.â€
Raising awareness among middle school, high school and college students is very important in this community, according to Turner, who sees many cases involving teens ages 13-18 and early college-aged teens every year.
â€œWe talk about sexual harrassment, intimidation, sexually transmitted diseases,â€ Turner said.
Turner also has warnings for young males, and all sexes living in the community that may not be educated on the facts of the law, when it comes to consensual sex with minors or other adults. He warns can stem to permanent registration as a sex offender for life.
â€œTry to find a job if youâ€™re on the sex offender registry,â€ Turner said. â€œYou may think that you had permission or consent … you may wake up the next day and find out that you have criminal charges [against you].â€
Esperanza House also offers a Victimâ€™s Advocacy program that provides crisis counseling to all victims of sexual assualt, and the SafeAssured ID program, which provides the law enforcement with a media ready tool that can be used to identify a missing child that was previously involved in an assualt case.
Volunteers interested in getting involved with Esperanza House should call 625-1095, or visit Esperanzahouse.com and Facebook for more information.