By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
“I really want people to know that they can reach out in any capacity at any time,” said Tulalip Legacy of Healing and Child Advocacy Center Manager, Jade Carela. “And remind people that though things might be slowed down and we might be doing things a little differently, we’re still here for you.”
For years the Tulalip Legacy of Healing (LOH) and Child Advocacy Center (CAC) have represented safety, healing, hope and new beginnings for many Tribal members looking to escape sexually abusive or violent relationships. Typically, the LOH and CAC staff are busy year-round raising awareness for the victims of DV and survivors of sexual assault.
For instance, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and that month alone is jam-packed with a number of seminars, panels and classes aimed to provide a safe space for victims to speak, express their emotions and begin the healing process. The month also is held in part to educate the community about what sexual assault is, how often it occurs and how to identify warning signs. But with the presence of the pandemic, the LOH and CAC team was met with a number of challenges that they were forced to quickly overcome in order to ensure their clients, and anybody in need of their services, could access them.
“When COVID first happened, we moved everything to tele,” Jade explained. “Tele just means that we’re providing that service from home. And the therapists are also doing mental health services from home. We really don’t see anybody in-person anymore. I took on our lead advocate’s phone, so we still respond to emergencies and anything that comes up.”
Last month, Tulalip Child Advocate, Sydney Gilbert, hand-delivered fliers to businesses located on the reservation out of concern that people, especially children, are less likely to report due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re really trying to focus on the fact that we have to rely on everyone, on each other, right now to look out for the safety of kids,” Sydney stated. “Because they are not with their teachers on a regular basis, they’re not with other kids, they aren’t even with other family members who they can disclose that information to. There are a lot of kids stuck at home with their abuser, with no access to a mandated reporter, no way to escape that environment that they’re in.”
A decision was recently made to close the Tulalip Legacy of Healing Safe House indefinitely, but Jade wants to ensure the community the LOH department still has plenty of resources and can help direct individuals seeking refuge to a nearby shelter or safe house.
“The Legacy of Healing is still there; we just don’t have a safe house anymore, but we have other places that we know of where there are shelters,” said Jade. “If you are Native, we work with a place in Seattle that provides assistance when it comes to needing a hotel or things like that. Even though we don’t have our safe house, there’s other Native safe houses within Washington State that we have a good relationship with, and there’s also other shelters that we have good relationships with. We still have the advocate and attorney right now who’s able to help with our cases.”
In addition to passing out informational fliers, the Tulalip LOH and CAC recently launched their Facebook page where they plan to share various articles and educational pieces surrounding heavy topics such as domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“This information is important because the abuse is still happening, whether we’re seeing it or not,” said Jade. “We need to be there for them, even if it’s just one child or one adult that comes forward with something that’s been going on. They need that support, they need someone there, and they need a service that’s going to be thinking of their best interest while going through this process. We’re always here, so reach out. We can be on the court calls with you and connect you with the attorneys. We can talk with you, we can offer other resources to you, we are here for you.”
For more information, please contact the Tulalip Legacy of Healing at (360) 716-4100 or the Tulalip Child Advocacy Center at (360) 716-KIDS (5437), and be sure to also give their new Facebook page a follow.