Young victims, witnesses of domestic abuse to have new Safe Space
Pave opens child protection specialist centre in Yishun
Selina (not her real name) had been witness to, and a victim of, domestic abuse by her drunken father when she was a child.
She was 15 when she was referred to family violence specialist centre Pave's child protection services.
It was not until much later, when the centre's social workers began to earn the girl's trust, that she revealed her father had also sexually abused her.
Safe Space, a child protection specialist centre run by Pave, will allow more children like Selina to get help. It officially opened yesterday in Yishun.
Pave's executive director Sudha Nair said: "Children need to feel that they are in a safe and non-judgmental space to be able to share their experiences.
"Selina only spoke about it after going through the Trauma Focused Behavioural Therapy offered by the centre."
Previously, the child protection services were run out of Pave's location in Ang Mo Kio.
The programme, started in January last year, received 128 cases and about 239 enquiries last year.
The new centre is one dedicated to working with children who have suffered or witnessed domestic abuse. It is the third of its kind in Singapore.
Social worker Nazeema Marican, 28, who has been working with Pave for five years, said: "For the first time, we have a dedicated space for children..."
Dr Nair added: "Having a dedicated space allows us to attend specifically to the needs of children.
"It sends them the message that their voices can be heard, and sends parents the message that kids need to be heard.
"People think children are not old enough to know or that they will forget easily, but in our experience, they do not.
"We have seen kids, who were just three or four at the time, recollect years later even the smell of their father or the look in his eyes when something happened at home."
She said Selina had been badly affected by her abuse, becoming aggressive at school and bullying other children.
"These effects are long-term, and it is only after the treatment that Selina has become more mellow and happy and is doing well at school," Dr Nair added.
President Madam Halimah Yacob and MP for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng attended the opening of the centre.
Madam Halimah said: "When all of us put children's welfare and safety first, and when we all work together, great change can happen for the most vulnerable children in our midst."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development said it has plans to set up more community-based services for child protection.