River Bridge Voices: Let the Words Fall Out

Welcome to River Bridge Regional Center's Blog. A space to share stories, experiences, and the perspective of children and families who utilize our services, the staff who work here, and other professionals dedicated to fighting child abuse.   
  


What You Really Want

posted Nov 14, 2018, 2:20 PM by Bridget Derkash

What You Really Want

I would like to tell you about the experience of a brave and intelligent teenage girl who the River Bridge staff had the pleasure of working with. Denise (name changed for privacy) was 15 when she first came to River Bridge with her mother and siblings. The evening before, her father had confessed to the police that he had been sexually abusing his daughter. His confession and Denise’s disclosure was of ongoing sexual abuse that occurred for years and didn’t stop until the day she came into River Bridge. The abuse had begun when Denise was four years old.

At River Bridge, the investigators learned through a neutral and child friendly forensic interview that Denise had spoken of the abuse to the pastor at her church when she was 8 years old. Rather than keeping her safe from further abuse by reporting these concerns to the police, her pastor attempted to “counsel” the offender for years. The sexual abuse continued and the secret of what Denise was undergoing was maintained. The pastor even went so far as to blame Denise for not being modest enough in her attire.

Denise endured sexual abuse for 12 years. Finally, a youth pastor found out about the abuse and told the offender that he had to turn himself in, or the youth pastor would have to report it. This is what led to Denise’s father’s admission.



Denise’s mother engaged in mental health treatment with her daughter and was able to support her. This detail is important because we know that children who experience abuse are much more likely to heal and go on to be productive citizens if they have at least one supportive caregiver in their lives. Denise’s mother’s ability to support her daughter has everything to do with the initial crisis mental health intervention and education that she was provided with at River Bridge at the time of the forensic interview and in the immediate days and weeks after the law enforcement report.

Denise received weekly Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions and was able to significantly reduce her symptoms of post traumatic stress. She was provided a medical exam on-site at River Bridge with our sexual assault nurse examiner.

This year, River Bridge took the local Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program under our umbrella. Seeing that this program was at risk of dissolving again, we knew we had to step in. While these exams are helpful for evidence collection, they are absolutely essential for the long term mental and physical health of a patient.




This case was fully investigated and prosecuted. As I mentioned previously, the offender, in this case, made a full confession and he pled guilty to sexual assault on a child. The River Bridge team was with Denise and her family every step of the way in this long judicial process. Our family advocate sat beside the family at almost every court hearing. Denise read a powerful and compelling victim impact statement at this offender’s sentencing hearing. She asked the judge to give him 12 years in prison for the 12 years he took from her youth.

We often hear of a fear of ruining someone’s life with accusations about sexual abuse. We’ve heard concerns about unfairly sending someone to prison – “What if it isn’t true?” Let me tell you about what actually happens in our (sometimes very) broken system. This case is a perfect example. To us, this sentencing decision was simple. The offender fully confessed and pled guilty to sexually abusing his young daughter for 12 years. In fact, he will spend NO time in prison. He was sentenced to 20 years of intensive supervised probation.

I tell you all this because another part of what we do at River Bridge is community education. We know that our strongest weapon against child sexual abuse is knowledge. We have to start talking about it if we are ever going to see change. We are not afraid to have the hard discussions, challenge our partner agencies, and hold our community responsible for keeping kids safe.





There were many positive outcomes for Denise and her family. The abuse stopped. Denise received evidence-based trauma focused mental health and medical treatment. She was ultimately believed and supported by her family and community. She received the direct, powerful message that she did absolutely nothing wrong and that she has nothing to be ashamed of. The family was connected with a different community of faith. And that supportive network admonished what their previous church had done to Denise. Denise will go on to do great things, we have no doubt. Kids don’t need their offenders to go to jail for healing to happen. One does not depend on the other.


Your support is helping our program sustain and grow to provide more children more services. Your support is helping children right here in your home community. We know that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. This abuse crosses all geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic boundaries. Our community is not immune. And your support is making a real difference in the way we can support and help our children heal.


https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins



https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





http://co4kids.org/






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Bridge to Their Futures Campaign

posted Oct 26, 2018, 2:19 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Oct 29, 2018, 2:43 PM ]

River Bridge Regional Center Presents 
Bridge to Their Futures Campaig



Dear Friends,

With great enthusiasm, we give our support to the Bridge to Their Futures Campaign of River Bridge Regional Center (RBRC). The renovation of an additional property, expansion of programs, and addition to RBRC’s operating reserve fund will ensure that all child abuse victims continue to receive services in a safe, confidential, and child-friendly environment. The success of this campaign will also ensure that all sexual assault victims – children and adults – have access to essential medical treatment.


In December 2017, RBRC marked its 10th anniversary. Since opening its doors, RBRC has served over 1,660 children and 2,490 family members in a four-county area.  RBRC provides a safe haven for children to speak about what has been hidden in their hearts.  As they begin their healing journey, River Bridge helps them move forward to rebuild their lives and forge brighter futures for themselves.

When RBRC was founded a decade ago, no one could anticipate that its services would outgrow the existing facility. Since 2007, much has changed in how RBRC serves clients, partners, and the community. RBRC has expanded its reach to serve the large geographic region of Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle, and Rio Blanco counties. The Center now receives referrals for victims beyond child sexual abuse. In 2018, RBRC sees child physical abuse victims and adults with developmental delays. It sees children who may have over-sexualized behavior issues or who may have witnessed crimes or violence. 

During the 2015 re-accreditation process, the reviewers concluded that RBRC has outgrown its current facility. The Center is receiving more referrals than ever before. Referrals for forensic interview services have increased 179% in the last 10 years, and, in just two years requests for medical exams have seen a 1,500% increase.  Scheduling conflicts are becoming more frequent with forensic interviews necessarily being conducted at the same time as mental health and/or medical clients are being treated. It is essential to ensure that clients are not at risk of encountering other clients.  Confidentiality is increasingly difficult to ensure. 

In addition, RBRC has taken the Mount West Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program under its umbrella.  Currently, the only space for adult medical exams is at the Garfield County Public Health building in Rifle. 

Responding to these needs, RBRC has embarked upon the Bridge to Their Futures Campaign.  River Bridge is fortunate to have unwavering support from Garfield County and the Garfield County Commissioners. With its financial support in 2007, Garfield County made River Bridge’s current home a reality. Now, with RBRC’s pressing needs for expansion, the Commissioners have again stepped forward. In December 2017, Garfield County purchased a 3,450-sq.-ft. single story building at 504 21st Street. This Building is conveniently located kitty-corner to and a short walk from the Center’s current facility at 520 21st Street.

Although Garfield County purchased the new property, RBRC is responsible for raising the funds not only to renovate the building but to accomplish so much more. The success of the Bridge to Their Futures Campaign will also enable RBRC to provide a permanent home for the Mountain West SANE program, enlist more staff, fund the added cost of utilities and general operations of two buildings, and increase its operating reserve.

River Bridge Regional Center has reached a critical point where community support is essential. Please join us in ensuring that it can continue to serve far into the future. Your meaningful contribution will be an enduring investment in the well-being of children, of families, and of our communities.

 

With appreciation,

Joyce Bulifant

Connie Calaway

Mark Gould

Marilyn Van Derbur

Honorary Co-Chair

Honorary Co-Chair

Honorary Co-Chair

Honorary Co-Chair

 






Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins


https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397




http://co4kids.org/




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Why Your Support Matters to Taryn

posted May 21, 2018, 12:44 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Oct 25, 2018, 10:49 AM ]


Why Your Support Matters to Taryn


You don’t have to be a parent and you don’t have to be a survivor to know the importance of a Child Advocacy Center. As community members and through our own experience’s, we know the difference that support can make when we are diving into the deep end, into the unknown.

Taryn’s story is the story of hundreds of children and teenagers who have walked through the doors at River Bridge Regional Center, whose life was changed for the better, under unimaginable circumstances. Though every story is different the support that children and their parents receive is the same.


For 
Taryn, it started when she was six. She was playing at her aunt and uncles house, her parents had dropped her off for the day, and she was excited to play with her cousins. In the afternoon her younger cousin took a nap. Taryn was finally old enough to skip a nap and stay up with her older cousin. They were playing downstairs when her cousin asked her if she wanted to watch a movie. Before her cousin put the movie on, he asked her if she was a big kid. Taryn said yes in a defiant tone and her cousin told her that the movie wasn’t for babies. It was the first time Taryn had ever seen an adult film. It scared her and gave her the uh-oh feeling in her stomach, but she wanted to be a big kid. 

For 
Taryn, the abuse grew from there. Almost every time she was at her aunt and uncle’s house, no matter what Taryn did, something seemed to happen. She didn’t know how to make it stop. Her cousin told her that if she told on him, he would tell her parents about the movies that she had watched. He reassured her that this is what big kids do. 

When 
Taryn was nine, she couldn’t take it anymore. She refused to go to her aunt and uncle’s house, she had constant stomach aches, missed school, and she began cutting herself. Taryn’s parents were at a loss. They didn’t know what was wrong or how to help. They just wanted their little girl back. 

Taryn saw a River Bridge presentation at her school. She was told that sometimes things like this happen and it is never the child’s fault. She was told that she is the boss of her body and she gets to decide what she sees and what she does with her body. If anyone ever makes her do or see something that she doesn’t want to, they are breaking the rules and it's not okay.  She was told that secrets aren’t safe and that it is okay to talk to a safe adult about a secret even if you were told not to tell anyone.   

Taryn didn’t go back to class after recess, instead, she went to the counselor’s office and told parts of what had happened with her cousin. Taryn told the counselor that she was scared her parents wouldn’t believe her and they would think it was her fault. Taryn said that she knew how much her mom loved her aunt and was afraid that her mom would stop seeing her and she would be really sad. Taryn was also afraid that she would never see her cousins, aunt, uncle, or grandparents ever again and that they would all hate her. She told the counselor that she just wanted it to stop. Her counselor listened to Taryn and told her it wasn’t her fault and that she was going to call some people that would know what to do next. Taryn was scared but already felt better by telling her secret to someone. 

Law enforcement and child protective services made an appointment for 
Taryn and her parents at River Bridge Regional Center. The family arrived at River Bridge, a small cottage style building, and were welcomed by a family advocate. In their time of distress, knowing that something had happened to their daughter, they were greeted with privacy, warmth, and a comfortable family-friendly setting. Taryn’s parents met with a multidisciplinary team made up of a forensic interviewer, law enforcement, child protective services, and a representative from the district attorney’s office. They were told about the process and what to expect. Taryn didn't have to see these people unless she chose to.  Taryn got to tell her story to a forensic interviewer in a child-friendly room. She was given the choice to have a facility dog with her as she talked and during the interview, Taryn was able to sit next to the dog and pet him as she spoke.


While 
Taryn was telling her story, her parents spent time with a family advocate in the waiting area. They got to meet with a therapist and a nurse to talk about resources and services available. When Taryn was finished she went back to the waiting room with her parents. As she walked to the waiting area she told the forensic interviewer that she felt lighter. Taryn’s parents met with the multidisciplinary team again to learn about what Taryn had said and to discuss next steps. They were told that they have an entire team of people who will be supporting them through the process and that Taryn was very brave in telling her story. 

After her first appointment at River Bridge, 
Taryn started therapy that focused on her trauma. Her parents were a part of this process and learned about trauma and worked with the therapist to address problem behaviors like cutting that they saw in TarynTaryn learned how to calm herself down when she remembered what had happened to her. She learned ways to manager her trauma so it didn’t consume her. Taryn never thought she would feel happy again, but she told her therapist that she does now. She wants to play with her friends at school and loves to learn new things. Taryn met with a nurse and after a checkup, she was told that her body was normal and healthy.  

Taryn’s story is one of healing. She was surrounded by support, from her family, to her school, to the team at River Bridge and she was resilient. At River Bridge, we provided a safe, child-friendly environment for Taryn and her family. We let kids know we believe them and that there is an entire team of people who are here to support them. 

Your support matters to 
Taryn. As a non-profit organization, we lean on our community to make services available to kids like Taryn and her family. Every time you support River Bridge, you are not only supporting a child and family in need, but supporting resiliency so children like Taryn can grow, heal, and be kids.


https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins



https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





http://co4kids.org/






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Switching Our Lens

posted Mar 22, 2018, 12:07 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Mar 22, 2018, 12:25 PM ]


Switching Our Lens

Katie sat across from me after disclosing a sexual assault by a classmate. The abuse was over, she had done everything right. She told a trusted adult what had happened, the adult made a report to the police, the police were investigating, and she was receiving supportive services for the healing process.  However, she knew, just like so many others, that her path to recovery was going to be an uphill battle.  She attended the same school as her offender and in our victim-blaming culture, she knew she would not be receiving the support she needed from her community.  It was simple because she knew how she would react if it had happened to someone else.  She explained, "If this didn’t happen to me, I wouldn’t be on my side. I would be on their side, I wouldn’t believe me.” Though she had just been through a horrible event and knew what happened was not her fault, she also knew that her community would be judging her and likely be blaming her.  That all eyes would be on her and her offender would remain invisible, shielded by the narrative that this was her fault.  


We live in a culture of victim-blaming.  Most, including myself, don’t want to believe this.  It is much easier to believe that if someone we know and cared for came forward and told us of a sexual assault we would believe them and we would take the actions needed to be on their side.  Yet, blaming and shaming is so enmeshed in our perspective of sexual assault, it guides the way we process what happened and the questions we ask.  Often we jump to thoughts of, how did the victim get into that situation, they should have known better, I wouldn’t have done that, or do they have an ulterior motive? 

The challenge with dismantling victim-blaming attitudes lies in the fact that is so pervasive that most people do it automatically. The repeated narrative that the victim is at fault, is often the only narrative that is heard.  So, the question becomes how do we switch our lens and challenge this deeply rooted and destructive view of sexual assaults? 

We need to shift our focus from what the victim did or didn’t do and look at the offender and their actions.  Start by asking yourself what would a decent person do in the same situation?  Would they take advantage of someone?  Would they assault them? We hold victims to the highest standard. If they don't do everything right, they are to blame.  However, when it comes to an offender, we often do not hold them to an average standard, their disrespectful, mean, and abusive behaviors somehow pass through our judgment and are often left invisible.  

When all attention is on the victim it becomes even more difficult for people to come forward and disclose abuse.  Like Katie, they are left feeling alone, isolated, and without the support they need to heal. 

I challenge you, to start taking proactive steps to create a survivor supportive culture today.  Below are steps that we can all take.  Let’s build a community of support where everyone is held to a high standard, not just the victim.  


8 Actions to Switch the Lens
  1. Refocus your attention from the victim to the offender.  What did he/she do? What would a decent person do in the same situation?
  2. Challenge victim blaming statements when you hear them.  Help others switch their lens from the victim’s actions to the offender’s actions. 
  3. Let survivors know it’s not their fault.  This is the most important message we can give to support resiliency in survivors.  Let them know you are on their team.  
  4. Hold offenders accountable.  No one should get one free rape or assault.  If someone has broken the law they should be held accountable and they should be receiving treatment so it doesn’t happen again. 
  5. Report abuse.  Teenagers are children.  When a sexual assault happens to a teenager adults have a duty to report to law enforcement to help keep them safe.
  6. Support survivors in getting treatment.  Teenagers are resilient if they have the right tools to help them through a traumatic event.  Don’t let this shape their life.
  7. Don’t let a teenager or their family decide what legal steps need to be taken.  Not only does this put the weight of the world on a child, it doesn’t keep the community safe.    
  8. Hold the media accountable.  We see victim-blaming in the news all the time, use your voice to point out their victim-blaming biases. 




Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins


https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397




http://co4kids.org/




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Mountain West SANE Alliance has a Permanent Home with River Bridge Regional Center

posted Jan 15, 2018, 12:30 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Jan 23, 2018, 9:16 AM ]

Mountain West SANE Alliance has a Permanent Home with  River Bridge Regional Center

River Bridge Regional Center is happy to announce that Mountain West SANE Alliance has a permanent home under the River Bridge Regional Center umbrella.  In 2012 the Roaring Fork Valley lost its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, leaving our community vulnerable and victims of sexual assault with inadequate services.  A small group of dedicated professionals came together to reinstate the needed services that victims in our community require, they formed the Mountain West SANE Alliance (MWSA).  With dedication and tireless work, this group of individuals was able to reestablish services to our community and in 2016, MWSA conducted its first SANE Examination. 


MWSA has continued to work tirelessly, however with limited funding, mounting volunteer hours, and borrowed space the longevity of the program was in question. To ensure that our community does not lose its adult SANE program again, River Bridge will provide the structure and leadership that is necessary for the permanency of the program.

River Bridge Executive Director Blythe Chapman is dedicated to creating a safer and stronger community.  “Unfortunately when Valley View Hospital closed the SANE program in 2012, victims of assault in our community had to travel to Frisco or Grand Junction for this essential service.  Due to the travel hardship, many patients decided against an exam.  We fear that even more did not report assault because of the lack of services available.  All victims of assault deserve the dignity, respect, and specialized medical care that a forensic nurse examiner can offer.  We feel that it is unacceptable for our community to get by without a SANE program.   This is why River Bridge has stepped up to provide the administration and oversight to a much needed service in our community.  We have many nurses in our valley who are engaged, committed and enthusiastic about SANE.  The program will experience strength and longevity with the right management.” 

Under River Bridge Regional Center’s direction, Mountain West SANE Alliance is already growing. The program currently has four nurses on contract who are able to provide exams to the 9th Judicial District which includes, Garfield, Pitkin, and Rio Blanco counties. In addition, there are six nurses who are currently in training and will begin examinations in early and mid-2018.  

Forensic Nurses who conduct SANE exams are specially trained in medical, psychological, and forensic examination of sexual assault victims.  Ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive the highest standard of medical care and are treated with dignity and respect. Forensic nurses provide trauma-informed care. They identify physical and emotional trauma, document injuries, collect evidence, provide pregnancy and STD prevention medications, and make necessary referrals.  Mountain West SANE Alliance enhances evidence collection for criminal proceedings and supports effective investigations and better prosecutions


Adult victims of sexual assault can make an anonymous report.  A victim can choose to obtain a medical forensic exam and not to participate in the criminal justice system. Any evidence collected and information given to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information. When evidence is collected as part of the medical forensic exam for an anonymous reporting victim, they consent to evidence storage only, and do not have the option of evidence testing. Evidence and information is stored for at least two years by local law enforcement and a victim has the right at any time to file a law enforcement report, thereby converting from an anonymous report to a law enforcement report.  Mountain West SANE Alliance is happy to take calls from individuals seeking information about our services and encourage advocates to inform adult victims of the opportunity to speak with a nurse directly if they are hesitant to contact law enforcement after an assault. 

Mountain West SANE Alliance is available to answer calls 24/7.  However, the nurse response for this community-based program is not “on call”.  There will be times when nurses will not be available for examinations.  Every effort will be made to arrange exams in a timely manner and locally if possible.  As Mountain West SANE Alliance continues to grow under River Bridge Regional Center leadership the goal is to ensure that every victim of sexual assault receives the specialized medical care that a forensic nurse examiner can offer.    

To request an exam, patients and/or law enforcement may call Garfield County Dispatch at 970-625-8095 and request a call back from the “on call nurse”.  Currently, MWSA has an exam site at Rifle Public Health and we will have an additional site in Glenwood Springs opening in early 2018.  All children and adolescents who are victims of sexual assault will continue to be seen for medical care at River Bridge Regional Center in Glenwood Springs.



Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins




https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397




http://co4kids.org/




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River Bridge Regional Center History

posted Dec 12, 2017, 1:01 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Dec 12, 2017, 3:48 PM ]


This December 2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of River Bridge opening its doors to child abuse victims and their families.  

As the old cliché goes, you can't know where you are going until you know where you have been.

The work began way before the doors opened.  Joyce Bulifant Perry and the Rotary Club of Carbondale – Aspen Glen (now known as the Mt. Sopris Rotary Club) worked tirelessly to make their dream come true. Child Advocacy Centers were not new (the movement began in the early 1990’s) but the concept was new to our community.  It took a lot of education, relationship building and fundraising to make the Center a reality.  The Rotary Club raised over $102,000 for the Center, the Garfield County Commissioners agreed to build a $600,000 building and the national non-profit organization, Child Help, offered to provide the administration for the program.  The Child Help River Bridge Center (fka) opened its doors in December 2007 with a Director and a Victim Advocate on staff. In addition, Garfield County Department of Human Services provided a forensic interviewer, Susan Whiting, and a mental health therapist, Meghan Hurley Backofen on site.  Meghan has been our center’s one constant over the years and continues to provide hope and healing for child abuse victims and our community.


With a rough start in the Director position, in 2008 the Center was lucky enough to have Susan Ackerman join the team.  Susan provided stability for the organization and led the team to successful National Children’s Alliance accreditation in 2010.

Also in 2010, the DHS forensic interviewer resigned her position to move her family east.  At that time the Center focused on building a more diverse forensic interviewer team.  A successful team is essential to providing consistent and professional forensic interviews for children.  Our Center has been lucky enough to have agreements with partner agencies to provide professional interviews.  Interviewers have been provided over the years by Garfield County Department of Human Services, Rifle Police Department, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Carbondale Police Department, Basalt Police Department, Aspen Police Department, in addition to individual contract employees paid by River Bridge.  (Dina Prieto, Linda Consuegra, Megan Alstatt).  In April 2012, River Bridge had the opportunity to hire a full-time forensic interviewer/community outreach coordinator.  Today we have Bridget Derkash flourishing in this position.  And last year we had grown so much that we were in the position of hiring a part-time forensic interviewer as well.  We were happy to welcome Anais Hernandez to this role in October 2017.

Our Victim Advocate position is the most important and the most difficult job we have at River Bridge.  We have had a total of six people in this position since the doors opened in 2007.  In December 2013 we hired Lori Bennett.  Lori is our “air traffic controller” and the face of our advocacy center.  Our clients know that they can count on Lori.

The River Bridge medical program was created by Lauren Gueriera.  Lauren was a founding task force member and at the time the center opened was the SANE program coordinator at Valley View Hospital.  Our medical program has grown into what it is today because of Kelley Hill.  Kelley spent the first year volunteering her time with River Bridge after VVH closed their sex assault nurse examiner (SANE) program in 2012.  So far in 2017, Kelley has seen over 60 children for medical services at River Bridge.  Today we are looking towards continued growth of our medical program.  River Bridge will be taking the Mountain West SANE Alliance under our umbrella starting in January 2018.  The program has four nurses on contract currently and another five nurses are in training to do SANE exams.

In August 2011, Child Help River Bridge hired me (Blythe Chapman) as the Director.  At the time I wasn’t sure I was the best person for the job.  However, I quickly realized that this was exactly what I was supposed to do with my career.  I am so happy that my good friend Meghan Backofen called me that day and convinced me to apply.

It was very apparent within a few weeks of being on the job that our Colorado program’s relationship with the national non-profit, Child Help, was strained.  Although our community had grown to rely upon the organization and financially support the program in many ways, Child Help was having trouble paying bills for many programs throughout the country.  I learned that our partners and local advisory board had been working on fixing this problem for some time.  Within a year of being on the job, Child Help had turned off our credit card (our only way to buy supplies for the center) and was threatening to not make payroll, and I learned that a CAC in another state had closed its’ doors.  I knew that we had to do something or our center would do the same.

In May 2012, I met with Sheriff Lou Vallario and Chief Terry Wilson.  They both promised that they would not see their center close its’ doors.  Lou and Terry pulled together a Board of Directors to include Jeff Cheney (Assistant DA at the time) and attorney Scott Balcolm.  Lou hired our staff and we successfully split from Child Help.

By September 2012, River Bridge Regional Center had been created and had our own 501c3 non-profit status.  In January 2013, River Bridge had our first employee, Blythe Chapman.  Exactly one year from obtaining non-profit status, we no longer had any salary support from the Sheriff’s office. Today we have a 100% community Board of Directors, over five months of reserve in the bank and stable funding.  We pay our bills on time and we are a local non-profit in good standing with the State of Colorado, our funders and our partners.


River Bridge Regional Center has served over 1,500 children and their non-offending family members since opening our doors.  RBRC now serves the four-county area of Garfield, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, and Eagle. This is an area covering 8,800 square miles with a population of over 132,000. In 2016 we saw 208 children.  This is a 160% increase over our first year of operation. In 2017 to date we have already seen over 200 children.  We experience an increase in children and families served every year and we expect to continue to experience this increase.  We have outgrown our space and will expand physically in 2018.  Our budget has grown from less than $200k a year to over $500k in 2018.

We are excited to experience where the next 10 years takes us!  We know that we wouldn’t be here today without the vision and work of many, many people.  We are here tonight to honor those who made this program a reality.


http://www.riverbridgerc.org/





Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins 




https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





http://co4kids.org/





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Part of the Solution

posted Nov 27, 2017, 11:16 AM by Bridget Derkash

My name is Lindsay Gould I am a board member and volunteer at River Bridge Regional Center. I want to share how I became involved with this amazing organization.

River Bridge Regional Center envisions a community where children are safe, families are strong, and where all abused children are believed, supported and able to heal.

River Bridge Regional Center is a nationally accredited nonprofit child advocacy center, utilizing a child-centered, multidisciplinary approach to the prevention, assessment, treatment, and investigation of child abuse. 

Within River Bridge’s warm, child-friendly environment, they provide hope and healing to neglected and abused children and their families through treatment, advocacy, and investigation services.



I have always been a very sensitive person and as a child was very imaginative. When someone tells me a story, I picture each scene in my mind and imagine how it would feel to be in that story. As an adult, my imaginative ability to picture myself in different scenes wasn’t such a gift like it was in childhood.

I gave birth to my first child in August of 2013 and I distinctly remember several different stories right after I had my son that deeply affected me. One was a story I heard about a newborn while I was still in the hospital, another; a news story of abuse, and the third another horrific abuse story I heard from my sister in law that to this day I have not had the courage to google for fear it is true. As a new mother, I couldn’t bear to imagine some of the things that I know happen in this world. I became depressed and consumed with thinking about these awful scenarios.  I made a decision that I could be depressed about the stories that I hear on the news every day, I could bury my head and pretend it doesn’t happen, or I could get involved in becoming part of the solution. I chose the latter.  


http://www.riverbridgerc.org/get-involved/learn-about-abuse

I have very much enjoyed being part of River Bridge and while it’s hard to think about what is happening out there, it is happening. I for one want to know that I’m doing what I can to help these children out.

Part of the struggle we face is getting our communities informed because these are difficult subjects to talk about. It’s time we all open our eyes and have the courage to hear about the things that are happening to children everywhere and do our part. I thank anyone who takes the time to read this and encourage those of you reading to become more informed and hopefully if you feel so inclined, get involved in doing anything you can to improve the lives of these marginalized children.  


http://www.riverbridgerc.org/get-involved

http://www.riverbridgerc.org/home





Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins 



https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397





http://co4kids.org/




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I Understand

posted Nov 2, 2017, 10:10 AM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Nov 27, 2017, 9:29 AM ]


The smell was what woke me up, I had fallen asleep on a Greyhound bus headed to Cortez to see my sister and my new niece. The rotten stench from his body smelled like sewer and sweat making me gasp for air. Leaning close to my body he demanded that I get off the bus with him at the next stop. While his fingers violated my body, my brain froze in fear.

I had just turned 13-years-old and I was taking the bus to southern Colorado to spend a week with my sister and the baby. My first trip alone, it was a big deal for me, all grown up and on my own. His face was next to mine, almost breathing in my fear which fed his power over my body. I sat afraid to move away from the danger that was seated right next to me. I did not know how to respond.


 A loud voice boomed through the bus, it was 2 am and everyone else was asleep, except for the bus driver who was looking at me from his mirror. I can still see his face and the hat that all Greyhound bus drivers wore back then.  In front of him was a huge windshield and the highway lit up from the bus’s bright lights. The driver demanded that I get up and come to the front of the bus and sit by him. I blinked back the tears, he sounded so mad at me. I could not figure out what I had done wrong. I stood up and squeezed by my offender, afraid to go to the front of the bus to face another man who appeared very angry. I sat shivering and afraid, I was 8 hours from home and help.

We did not have cell phones back then, only pay phones. I was not sure where the next phone would be. I am not sure I even had any money to make that call. The bus rolled into the station and the rotten man walked right by me, two feet from my face. He smiled as he walked down the stairs, straight into my eyes, letting me know he just took something from me and he got away with too!  I remember staring ahead and trying to wrap my young brain around what had just happened.  No one had ever touched me like that and it made me feel sick and afraid. I was terrified, it was dark, I was alone and I had to trust the driver to get me to my sister safe and sound.

Cortez was the next stop and my sister stood smiling in the street lights, anxious to see me, we hugged. I never told anyone what happened. I suppose I thought I would get in trouble for letting a stinking scary man sit next to me and violate my body. I think for years I thought I had done something wrong, it must have been my fault for falling asleep. 


As a Victim Advocate for River Bridge Regional Center, I understand why children don’t disclose. How can a child disclose that a father, brother, uncle or grandparent is abusing them, when I could not scream, “help” when a disgusting man tried to kidnap me off a bus while raping me with his fingers?

It took years of me growing up to understand that the bus driver saved me that night. That his anger was not at me. He noticed this man get up and move to my seat, lean close to my body, and knew something was not right. Today he is a hero to me, I now understand.

I don’t know if I would have gotten off that bus in fear, I don’t know if he could have controlled me that much.  All I know is that my mind froze and it took a stranger in control to move me to safety. When I hear that a child is afraid to disclose, I understand how scary it can be, disclosing something so ugly takes a of lot courage. I believe every child that comes into River Bridge.

I wish I had known that I was supposed to tell someone, that my body belonged to me, and that no one had a right to touch it like the stranger on the bus did that night when I was 13 years old.



http://riverbridgerc.org




Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins 



https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397




http://co4kids.org/




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Thank You Marilyn Van Derbur

posted Oct 30, 2017, 10:42 AM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Oct 30, 2017, 10:51 AM ]



            Thank You Marilyn Van Derbur!


Thank you all for attending River Bridge Regional Center's Marilyn Van Derbur event!  We hope that you were as moved as we were by Marilyn's powerful and important message about the impact of child abuse and the amazing ability to heal.  Marilyn's strength and dedication to survivors is inspiring.  She is a beacon of hope for us all.  Her metaphor for incest creeping into every corner of her life, like a drop of red paint in a white bucket, clearly depicted the reach that abuse can have.  Marilyn also spoke of the ability to heal if you do the work.  At River Bridge Regional Center this is what we strive for, supporting children now so that they can heal.  

This event was dedicated to all of the brave children who have trusted us with what they need to say out loud .....  


riverbridgerc.org




Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins 


https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397


http://co4kids.org/


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A Story of Pain, Healing, and Hope

posted Sep 19, 2017, 2:37 PM by Bridget Derkash   [ updated Sep 22, 2017, 8:29 AM ]


Child abuse knows no demographic; no gender, race, or socioeconomic status.  It is difficult to think about, even harder to talk about, yet it affects millions of children every year. 

River Bridge is excited to bring Marilyn Van Derbur to Edwards on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017. Marilyn’s story shows us that child abuse can happen in any home and teaches us the power of breaking the silence.  The power for a child to come forward and talk about abuse, the power to overcome, survive, and stand without stigma, and the power to prevent abuse from happening to other children. 

Marilyn Van Derbur’s family was a part of Denver’s elite.  Her father was a millionaire socialite and pillar of the Denver community.  He served as the president of the Denver Area Boy Scout Council and helped establish Denver’s Cleo Wallace Village for Handicapped Children.  Marilyn, the youngest of four, was a beautiful, straight-A student, and champion AAU swimmer. From the time she was 5-years-old to 18, her father sexually violated her.   

http://people.com/archive/cover-story-the-darkest-secret-vol-35-no-22/

In an interview with People Magazine, Marilyn explains, “People ask me why I didn’t tell what was happening to me.  It was because I perceived no way out. A young child tells on her father and what happens?  She’s taken away from her family. Her father goes to jail. The family is destroyed, and the message is, ‘It’s all your fault’.”

The pain that child abuse causes is not just in the moment of the act, but the long-lasting psychological impacts that it can have.  Marilyn talks about physical paralysis, acute anxiety, and profound struggles in relationships. 

Marilyn’s message, though raw and emotional, is one of healing.  “It’s the secrets and the shame that keep us shackled,” says Marilyn in an interview for San Luis Valley Health.  “Everyone needs a safe person that they can turn to.”   

Marilyn held her secret for most of her life, believing that there was no one she could tell.  “When you have an advocacy center and can go somewhere where people can believe you that makes the difference.  Just having that support can start a healing process that brought down my life at age 45.  You don’t have to live that way if you can work through it as a child.”

Therapy for child abuse survivors can be relatively short term.  With a trained professional who focuses on abuse and trauma, children and teens can regain their lives while they are still kids.  

To stop abuse, as a community we need to talk about it.  We need children and survivors to know that they can talk about their abuse and that there are people who are listening and who can help.

This is a small introduction to Marilyn’s Story.  I hope you can join us not only to hear all of Marilyn’s inspirational and moving talk but to help support children in our community.  We hope to spread awareness that there is a way out, that abuse does happen, and together we can stop it. 

Help support River Bridge and our community by attending our Marilyn Van Derbur event in Edwards on October 11th, 2017 at 5:30. 

Marilyn Van Derbur

For more information and tickets follow this link






Where Silence Ends
Healing Begins 



https://www.coloradogives.org/index.php?section=organizations&action=newDonation&fwID=37397




http://co4kids.org/





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