SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — Activists and public officials gathered in Santa Monica Friday for the groundbreaking ceremony for a facility that will provide state-of-the-art care for sexually abused children.
Actress Viola Davis and Cheryl Saban, co-chairs of The Rape Foundation Capital Campaign for Stuart House, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, and Gail Abarbanel, the director of the Stuart House, among others, discussed the new Stuart House structure that will double the number of sexually assaulted children the program can treat.
“There are so many children that we can’t serve just because of the space limitation of our current facility,” Abarbanel said.
Stuart House, which was established in 1988 by the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, was designed to improve the treatment of child victims and remedy serious problems in the traditional child protection system.
National statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
“Stuart House is a unique model because all of the expertise, all of the agencies, all of the services these children need are co-located on this site in a very child-friendly facility that is warm and welcoming for very traumatized children,” Abarbanel said.
“Stuart House not only allows us to get the most accurate information, but also reduces the trauma on the victim,” Beck said.
Davis and Saban both shared their personal stories of abuse at the event.
“I was raped when I was 18. And back in the day, that was in 1969, there weren’t these kinds of services. I had to deal with that trauma alone,” Saban said.
“When you’re a child, and you’re floating around in the world, and you face the atrocity of abuse, and being victimized…that aloneness you feel is like a death,” Davis said.
The Rape Foundation Capital Campaign has raised more than $12 million to design and build the new, larger facility on land provided by UCLA.
About $4 million is still needed to complete the project.
KCAL9’s Amy Johnson reported that the facility hopes to open in 18 months.