Before child advocacy centers were created, child victims of crime often had to tell their stories to more than a dozen adults – police officers, prosecutors, doctors and social workers. They could be shuttled all over town giving depositions and getting medical exams. There was very little coordination between the various agencies. Consequently, children were traumatized repeatedly as they sought help. In some of the saddest cases, abused children simply fell through the cracks in the system that was supposed to save them. Likewise, prior to Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Programs and Family Violence Intervention Programs victims were experiencing long waits in the emergency room, a lack of privacy, nervous and unskilled examiners, insensitivity, and improper evidence collection or loss of evidence.
In 2005, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, North Country Health Services, MeritCare Clinic of Bemidji, Midwest Children’s Resource Center of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN – St. Paul, MN and others joined to form a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to develop and operate a medical-model family violence center to serve the needs of Northern Minnesota.
FACNM is the only medical-model assessment center that currently exists in this region of the state. Moreover, the FACNM is one of the only centers in America to serve the needs of child sexual and physical abuse, adult sexual assault and domestic violence under one roof.
FACNM serves the entire ninth judicial district which includes the counties of Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, Norman, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Lake of the Woods, Beltrami, Hubbard, Koochiching, Itasca, Cass, Crow Wing, and Aitkin. In addition, the FACNM serves Red Lake, Leech Lake, and White Earth Reservations.
Today, all of the services needed by victims and their families – forensic interviews, medical exams, referrals and family support services – are clustered around one central location. FACNM is the hub where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about the investigation, assessment, treatment and prosecution of victim related cases. They work together in the best interests of the victim, providing an immediate response and ongoing support to help children and families recover from the trauma of abuse or violence.