When to Talk to Your Children About Their Bodies

We’d be remiss to stay silent as nationwide conversations take place about the new movie, “Show Dogs”, which reportedly features a situation in which a main character, albeit a dog, is praised for allowing judges to touch his genitals. Many have expressed concern that this will assist predators in grooming children or make children falsely believe it is praiseworthy to allow someone to touch their private parts. Here’s what you need to know.

The time to talk to your children about body safety is always NOW. ONE in TEN children experiences child sexual abuse before their eighteenth birthday. NINETY percent of children who are sexually abused KNOW their abuser. Let us reiterate: the time to talk to your children about body safety is always NOW. You can tailor the conversation according to their age. It doesn’t have to be scary or explicit, but your child needs to understand that their body belongs to them, and any touch that makes them feel uncomfortable is NOT okay. They need to know that certain body parts are private and special. Here is a great resource from Darkness to Light about how to talk to your child. If you see the movie, please seize the opportunity to point out to your child that is NOT normal to allow someone to touch their private parts with any part of their body (hands, feet, mouth).


Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center offers a workshop, “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children”, which shines a light on sexual abuse, its impact on children, and how to prevent it. Please contact mandy@hopesplace.org to learn more about how to attend this training or bring it to your workplace, place of worship, school, or other organization. Together, we can end child sexual abuse.



Yes, You CAN Do Something About Child Abuse

TOMORROW, there will be a committee hearing on Kentucky Senate Bill # 137, also referred to as “the hearsay exception”. Kentucky Youth Advocates summarize, “SB 137 would keep kids safer from abuse by allowing a trustworthy adult to whom a child age 12 years or younger has disclosed abuse to testify in court about that disclosure.”

Children are much more likely to disclose abuse to an adult they know and trust. Furthermore, being forced to recall events in the courtroom can worsen the impact of the trauma and interfere with their ability to testify with the same effectiveness as they would had they not been traumatized. Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center supports this bill, as it can lessen trauma for a child and support a stronger testimony by an adult rather than the child who is potentially impaired due the the effects of trauma.

If you are a Kentucky resident, please reach out to representatives on the committee TODAY:

Sen. Whitney Westerfield [Chair]

Sen. Wil Schroder [Vice Chair]

Sen. Joe Bowen

Sen. Danny Carroll

Sen. Perry B. Clark

Sen. Ray S. Jones II

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr

Sen. John Schickel

Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum

Sen. Robert Stivers II

Sen. Robin L. Webb

You CAN make a difference, and this is just one simple example!

For more information on SB137 and many other bills impacting Kentucky’s children, check out http://kyyouth.org/bill-tracker.

Thank you for joining our mission! #20yrsofhope



Join the mission! #20yrsofhope

Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center is now in our TWENTIETH year of service! As always, we are sad that we are needed but grateful to be among those who offer hope and healing to children and families who have experienced trauma. Did you know in 2017 we served almost 500 children? We realize that the subject of child abuse can be so overwhelming at times that it seems as if there is nothing you could possibly do to help, but we are here to tell you, that simply isn’t true!!! By supporting Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center, you ARE making a difference in your community. Supporting us, in fact, allows us to continue providing the critical services of forensic interviewing, advocacy, specialized medical exams, and counseling to child victims of abuse at NO COST TO THEM. So join us in this mission! Support Hope’s Place! To make it easy and in honor of our 20th year of service, we give you:

20 Simple Ways to Support Hope’s Place in 2018:

1. FOLLOW us on Facebook and Twitter to stay current on our activities and needs. You can even host an online fundraiser on your birthday thanks to Facebook’s latest fundraising features.

2. SHARE our posts and events on your social media AND in real life!

3. Attend our Counselor & Community Academy courses (one offered each month). We’re hosting a Self-Defense Class on February 19th from 1-4pm for only $10. Empower yourself AND your community at the same time! Email mandy@hopesplace.org to register now!

4. Are you a Kroger Shopper? With each swipe of your Plus card, Kroger will donate 4% of the price of your purchases to support Hope’s Place! Register at krogercommunityrewards.com using Hope’s Place NPO 87874.

5. Are you addicted to Amazon like us? #StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/31-1501089 to support Hopes Place Inc.

6. Donate consignment to Second Hand Rose in Ashland, KY, and state that you want the consignment credit to go to Hope’s Place Child Advocacy!

7. Grab your friends and attend our fundraisers! We hold fundraisers large and small all year-long! A local favorite is our Chocolate Extravaganza event held at the Ashland Town Center Mall each year. See you March 24th this year!

8. Invite us to your school, church, or community organization meeting to speak about Hope’s Place’s mission or provide a “Stewards of Children/Darkness 2 Light” training.

9. Go to www. hopesplace.org and find the “donate” button. You can make a one time donation or set up monthly payments. Great or small: every penny helps.

10. Donate individually wrapped snacks and drinks for children who visit or coffee and water so that caregivers too can be cared for while visiting.

11. Donate restaurant food cards to help larger families with more waiting time or families that travel greater distances. We serve multiple counties in Kentucky and Ohio.  Gas card donations will also help clients to keep their appointments during times of financial stress.

12. Donate small/inexpensive toys and activity books (unused) for children to choose from in our treasure box before leaving.

13. Bring art supplies so that children can express and soothe themselves with art therapy. Office supplies or gift cards to help purchase office supplies help too!

14. Donate new blankets and pillows to comfort children during their medical exams.

15. Ask your favorite businesses or workplaces to sponsor Hope’s Place fundraising events! We will be hosting TWO races this year in addition to princess tea parties, superhero parties, “Chocolate Extravaganza”, Easter basket sales, a riverboat cruise, and a golf scramble! We can’t do that without corporate sponsors!

16. Donate cleaning supplies and paper products (cups, plates, napkins, tissues).

17. Volunteer manual labor like painting, gardening, renovating, and cleaning.

18. Sign up to help at our events by emailing mandy@hopesplace.org and adding your name to our master list of volunteers.

19. Encourage your workplace to host their own fundraiser for Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center.

20. And finally, the newest way to support Hope’s Place is to participate in our “Change a Child’s Life” Campaign. We challenge you to fill an old mason jar with your loose change, and bring it to Hope’s Place when you are done. “Change” a kid’s life: Fill a jar with hope!


Thank you for your ongoing support! 


Chocolate Extravaganza

Dear Friends,

We need your help with our 19th Annual Chocolate Extravaganza!  Each year the Chocolate Extravaganza seeks donations of Easter Baskets. This year we will be doing a week long sales event of our baskets AT HOPE’S PLACE. Basket sales will be 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m Monday, April 3rd – Friday, April 7th. All baskets will be priced for cash and carry. The chocolate tasting event will be held on Saturday, April 8th, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The goal of our event is to bring in as much money as possible for the children served at Hope’s Place. This year’s event is being done a little differently compared to previous years in order to recognize how much time and effort have been put into making these baskets special. If you or your organization prefer, please feel free to make a monetary donation to Hope’s Place for the amount you would have spent creating a special basket. All of the services provided by Hope’s Place are free of charge to the victim and their family.  These services include specialized medical exams, forensic interviews, mental health counseling, and advocacy services.

If you have never donated a basket, here’s a helpful list of tips and “to do’s” to guide your efforts!

  • “Themed” Baskets are the MOST FUN (and sell best!) For example, your basket could be a traditional Easter basket for a child, or it could be a “UK Basketball” theme geared towards an adult. Other themed basket ideas include; Date Night, Movie Night, Family Game Night, Cat Lover/ Dog Lover, Sports/Team enthusiasts, Gardening/Crafter, Specialty Food/Tea Baskets – just to name a few!
  • Please wrap the basket in clear cellophane and attach a list of items that are in the basket.
  • Provide an estimate of the basket’s worth, so that we can price each one appropriately.
  • Baskets should be brought to Hope’s Place the week of March 27, 2017. If you would prefer to send a financial gift in lieu of a basket, you may mail it to our address or bring it by our office. As a reminder, Hope’s Place is a non-profit organization so your donation is tax deductible.

We are looking forward to another year of Chocolate and fun!  Please join us this Easter season in providing help, hope, and healing for child victims of sexual abuse by supporting this special event.

We greatly appreciate your consideration of our request and welcome any questions you may have.  Please contact Hope’s Place at 606-325-4737 or email Erica at diversitydirector@hopesplace.org with any questions.

Making a Safe Space for Ducky

     “Trauma informed practice implies that we empower, support adaptive coping skills, and see individuals as capable of not just surviving, but also thriving.”

 – Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC, REAT

At Hope’s Place, our therapists understand the importance of “trauma-informed” practice. Trauma doesn’t only impact a child’s behavior and mood – it literally changes the brain. As trauma informed counselors, we know that trauma can shut down the language center of the brain. That means TALKING about what happened is nearly impossible and that is why we use art and play so much. Folks, young and old, who have experienced trauma, are often functioning more from the right hemisphere of the brain, so they need to be engaged “where they are”. And so we marry creative, expressive art with evidence-based therapy.

One of my favorite trauma informed activities was presented in a conference by Dr. Cathy Malchiodi, one of the leading experts in trauma informed art therapy. Taking a directive approach, the therapist provides a wide range of craft supplies such as tissue paper, chenille stems, foam sheets, stickers, feathers, Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, glue sticks, and strings. The client is given a rubber duck and a paper plate then directed to create a safe space for the ducky to live. As they create this space, you ask questions about who this duck is and why they need help creating a safe space. This exercise allows a child to project any feelings about safety and security, or the opposite, through the duck. I’ve watched some children spend 10 minutes on this project, tops, and move on to the next thing. In comparison, I’ve also seen kids spend hours fencing in their duck’s space, using jagged toothpicks and layers upon layers of “barbed” wire, never completely satisfied that the duck will remained unharmed. It doesn’t take a mental health professional to understand that these particular children could be projecting feelings of intense insecurity and impending doom based on their experienced trauma.

The duckies I’ve met have needed protection from other bully ducks, scary crocodiles, swamp monsters, Mommy and Daddy ducks, ducks on drugs, crazy uncle ducks, demons, snakes, etc. It was a profound moment when I was working with a young child who was protecting her ducky, Princess from being killed. She spent so long wrapping her duck and making a soft bed of feathers, pompoms, and tissues that I thought surely she was finished and began the process of wrapping up our session. “No, no!” she exclaimed, “I’m not done! She needs one more thing!” Imagine my astonishment when she grabbed a business card from my desk and placed it in her ducky’s home. She made her duck safe by giving it a Hope’s Place card. She equates Hope’s Place to a safe place; a place that helps protect children.

What an honor and privilege to be a part of her healing journey. Would you like to be a part of that journey too?


Mandy Leach-Justice, M.Ed., LPCC

Happy New Year 2017!

The end of 2016 is upon us, 2017 is just around the corner and there are plenty of exciting things happening at Hope’s Place Children’s Advocacy Center! We processed over 400 referrals for services this year…this is 60 more referrals than last year! More children and families to serve means more team members are needed to keep up with the demand. Hope’s Place has added four employees in the last six months to make sure we can serve every child and family that needs us.

We have teamed up with several generous community partners this past year to offer child survivors of sexual abuse and their families free services to begin healing.

  • Glockner of Ashland has provided donations to improve our medical room and our group therapy room
  • Rite Aid Foundation has provided thousands of dollars through their Kids Cents Charity for services, supplies, and snacks
  • Marathon Catlettsburg Refinery has provided donations and volunteer hours to improve our training space and our therapy rooms
  • Dinsmore and Shohl LLP of Huntington, WV, has provided support to continue our outreach services so that no child is without services
  • Town Square Bank, Kentucky Farmers Bank, and Citizens Bank  have provided donations and volunteer hours to cover the cost of medical exams and counseling services for hundreds of children throughout the years
  • The Foundation for the Tri-State Community has provided grant opportunities to add a sand tray therapy room and a medical records room.
  • Kentucky Colonels has provided grant opportunities for us to offer a new sensory room
  • The Outcast Off-road Club has provided thousands of dollars over the past few years to  support children and families
  • Chick-fil-A has supported our efforts to raise money to continue our legacy of free services for any child or family that has suffered child sexual or physical abuse.
  • Dr. Lauren Miller and Dr. Jessica Wilson from Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital donate their time to provide free specialized medical exams to abused children all year long.

There are so many other individuals and businesses that have given time and money to Hope’s Place Children’s Advocacy Center and we are thankful for all the support we get throughout the year!

Our prevention efforts continue and more people than ever understand that child sexual abuse can happen right here in our own neighborhood…people are aware and people are watching out for children. We think the numbers of sexual abuse survivors is growing because more people have been trained to recognize and respond to child sexual abuse…more people know what to look for and know how to report suspected abuse. Our need for funds never decreases, we provide top-quality services in a child-friendly atmosphere at no charge to families…we need your support! Hope’s Place wants all survivors of child sexual abuse to get the services they need, when they need them and we never want parents or children to worry about the cost of that care.

The average cost of six months of outpatient services for a child survivor of sexual abuse is approximately $2,000. This may include a specialized medical exam with any necessary testing ($1,000), a forensic interview ($250), advocacy services ($150) and weekly counseling sessions for an average of three months ($600–$50 a session for 12 sessions).

Please support Hope’s Place by going to our website and donating or call us to set up a monthly pledge amount or stop at our Greenup Avenue location to drop off your donation. Hope’s Place is a recognized charity so all financial donations are tax deductible. Please call 606-325-4737 for ways you can make a difference in a child’s life!

We hope you and yours have a safe and happy New Years!

-Lisa Phelps, Executive Director

Finding Beauty in the Broken – Clarissa’s Story — Darkness to Light Blog

Darkness to Light shares survivor stories in the hopes of highlighting the ways that survivors are healing from their abuse and helping others. Clarissa Carpenter helps survivors of child sexual abuse through her work with The Younique Foundation, an organization that provides retreats for women where they learn skills that can help them find individual healing.…

via Finding Beauty in the Broken – Clarissa’s Story — Darkness to Light Blog

Diversity Blast: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Survivors of Abuse

Hope’s Place strives to provide services to ALL victims of abuse. It is constantly important to us to have knowledge and insight about traditionally under-served populations. Every week we provide to our staff a “Diversity Blast” with information relevant to treating those typically under-served populations. This weekly training/ tip is provided in an effort to keep an on-going conversation about kids who may be referred that have special needs. Our staff is trained about various issues and encouraged to have an open-mind about conducting services in a sensitive way to treat ALL kids affected by sexual abuse. Unfortunately, our experience has taught us that children who are “different” because of race, ethnicity, physical or mental disability are those who are most at risk for being sexually abused. These kids matter to us.

Today’s DIVERSITY BLAST is dedicated to working with SURVIVORS of abuse who are also Deaf and/ or Hard of Hearing (HOH). We are still actively seeking local interpreters to contract for in person translation services, so if you know of anyone, please pass along their contact information to Hope’s Place at 606-325-4737 or via email at diversitydirector@hopesplace.org. If you have a personal connection and can make an introduction, I would love to talk with you!

The link below is a quick Youtube video that has some GREAT tips for considering how to provide services to the Deaf and HOH population – which actually prefer to be known as a part of a culture, as opposed to being identified as having a disability. Educate yourself – this video is only 8 minutes. More resources to follow in the coming blog posts!

Serving Deaf Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training


Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center 
is hosting two FREE 
Stewards of Children Sexual Abuse Prevention Workshop

Thursday, June 16th at Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center, 1100 Greenup Ave,  Ashland, KY 41101. 606-325-4737

Stewards of Children is the only evidence-based child sexual abuse prevention training proven effective in educating adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Training approved for PD & CEUs. Open to the Community and anyone who works with children!

Workshop Times! (You only need to attend one of these)

June 16th, 11:00 am – 1:15 pm

and one at June, 16th 6-8:15 pm

Light lunch/dinner, snacks and workbook provided free of charge!

RSVP: Mark Cole: mark@hopesplace.org  606-325-4737

You can also register by emailing mark@hopesplace.org or leaving a Facebook Message!

Hopes pLace logo sniped


Teen Topics

teen topics

At Hope’s Place we realize that teenagers face difficult issues. Teen Topics is a safe place to discuss difficult issues such as: body image, bullying, internet exploitation, drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, human trafficking, dating violence and other topics that teenagers face. Teen Topics is presented by a licensed mental health counselor and provides support, prevention education, and fun activities to help teens face these challenges. All teen girls from ages 13-18 are welcome and do not need to be a client of Hope’s Place. Contact Deana or Nikki at 606-325-4737 to register.