Thursday, July 24, 2014
Dr. Carol Rahter, an emergency room doctor at Waccamaw Community Hospital, is also the founder and medical director of the Children’s Recovery Center.
The main goal of the center is to record forensic interviews and physical examinations of children who have been sexually or physically abused so these materials can be used in court.
They also work to get the children therapy.
In 1995, Rahter said she was astonished that parents of children claiming to be abused were coming to the emergency room to be tested.
“That is the worst place for them to be interviewed or examined, unless it is no less than 24 hours after the abuse,” Rahter said.
She started working with Horry County and state agencies to begin forensic interviews and physical examinations in a more private setting.
Last year, the Children’s Recovery Center served 331 children in Horry and Georgetown counties and surrounding areas, and has served 150 already this year.
Referrals come from physicians, therapists, law enforcement agencies and the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS).
The center, which has locations in Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, works with a Guardian Ad Litem program that trains advocates for children in court, and several of the center’s employees are trained in Darkness to Light, a program that educates the public about abuse.
Along with Rahter, the center includes a program administrator, a victim’s advocate, a forensic interviewer, a Spanish-speaking forensic interviewer, a psychologist and a therapist.
“There is a certain percentage of these children who are revictimized by another perpetrator,” Rahter said.
“We try to get all of them therapy to enlighten them on how to protect themselves.”
She said that although nobody wants to talk about people sexually or physically abusing children, it is something that they need to talk about.
“It is uncomfortable for most people to talk about.
“But talking about it is the only way people can be educated about signs of abuse and the responding appropriately when a child is trying to tell them something,” Rahter said.
She said after interviewing children for 20 years, she knows that sometimes there is a communication breakdown.
“The child might say, ‘I don’t like going to Uncle Billy’s house,’ and in the child’s mind he or she told Mom about what Uncle Billy is doing to him or her,” Rahter said.
“But Mom just thinks the child doesn’t like going to Uncle Billy’s house.”
Rahter said one of the main challenges of the Children’s Recovery Center has been funding which they receive through grants and public fundraising.
Rahter said on August 23, there will be a 5K and 1K race starting and ending at King Street Grill in Murrells Inlet, with a pasta dinner the night before for people to register for the race and receive a T-shirt.
After the race, King Street Grill will provide breakfast for participants.
For information about this and other fundraisers, visit the Children’s Recovery Center Facebook page where there is a direct link to sign up for the race or to become a sponsor.
Rahter said the Parrot Head Club will hold an annual throwback show and beach party in September and part of the proceeds go to help the Children’s Recovery Center.
That group also holds an annual golf tournament to raise funds for the center.
For more information about the Children’s Recover Center, call 843-448-3400, or visit the website at childrensrecoverycenter.nationalchildrensalliance.org.