The Talk Every Parent Must Have

It’s completely normal for parents to feel uncomfortable talking about sexual abuse. To start the conversation, it is best to weave the messages into day-to-day interactions- dinnertime, bath time, driving to an outing or bedtime. Putting down the phone, getting off of social media and getting some one-on-one time is always the BEST approach to having these kind of difficult conversations. 

For children 5 and under, keep the rules simple and easy to remember- 1) Say No, 2) Get Away, and 3) Tell an Adult Frequently remind them so that they memorized it like the fire safety method of 1) Stop, 2) Drop, and 3) Roll. This isn’t a one-time conversation. The more you talk about it, the more your child will remember and become comfortable talking about this kind of issue. Example talking points: “No one should EVER touch your private parts except the doctor help keep you healthy.” “Never keep secrets about touching.”

For children between the ages of 6-9, you can add more specifics. Example talking points:
“No one should EVER see or touch your private body parts.” “You shouldn’t see or touch other people’s private body parts, either.”

Children 10 and over can handle detailed rules. Since they can read, consider posting them in your home along with other, more general safety rules like “No downloading apps or games without permission.” Example talking points: “Another person should NEVER ask to see or photograph your private body parts.” “You should NEVER be asked to touch or look at another person’s private body parts.”


Sex Trafficking in Acadiana

We know it is hard to believe, but sex trafficking is happening in Acadiana.  Sex trafficking questions are not easy ones to answer, as we've learned through our Department of Justice. Unfortunately, many adults who are actually being trafficked do not identify themselves as victims. Like many survivors of sexual assault and abuse, they have formed a relationship with their abusers.

Perhaps the perpetrator is nice to her or buys her things she has never had before. Maybe he promises her a better life; maybe she has very few other options or has a drug habit that he supports. Many who want out of the situation have no idea where to go or that there are resources to help them. It is so important to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking, to make stricter penalties for those who traffic, to publicize hotline numbers and to provide funding to centers (such as Hearts of Hope) to support programs that help put survivors of sex trafficking on a path to help and healing.  

Here are the recent sex trafficking cases in Louisiana:

A 2018 report on human trafficking released by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services showed a 77% increase in juvenile victims identified over the past year, including more than three times as many victims age 12 and younger, compared to 2016.

The number of reported adult trafficking victims also increased, rising more than 25% from 2016-2017. Another 56 confirmed or prospective victims were of unknown or unreported age.

Websites are often utilized by sex traffickers. In effort to eradicate human trafficking the federal government has seized the website "Backpage", the leading site for prostitution ads. President Trump signed the FOSTA bill that will allow victims of sex trafficking to file suit against online companies that knowingly facilitate the unlawful act. The personal section on Craigslist has been shutdown in efforts to stop human trafficking. For more on this story, click HERE

Take the #ItsOnUs Pledge

Enough is enough. No more #MeToo stories. We all want a community free from sexual violence and gender equality to exist on all college campuses and workplaces. But... who is the first person we need to speak with when we begin taking the initial steps towards prevention and equality? The response we are looking for is "yourself". Having a conversation with ourselves may sound a little weird but it's absolutely necessary in order to get over the barriers of intervention. It's on us. That's how we begin paving a path towards prevention. 

90% of the college women who were sexaully assaulted knew their prepertrator, and only 20% reported the incident to law enforcement. #ItsOnUs is a social change campaign that Hearts of Hope is involved with to help bystanders in our community recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault. This campaign helps us learn how to intervene in situations where consent is not or cannot be given. When we are able to do this, we create an environment that is intolerant of sexual violence. 

Join the movement by taking the PLEDGE to end sexual violence. Watch the VIDEOS of some of your favorite celebrities who've taken the PLEDGE and create your own. Over 400 schools, organizations, and individuals have made their own It’s On Us PSAs! Create your own PSA today by downloading the script; go ahead and change the words to fit the culture of your campus and community. Then upload your video to youtube, facebook, instagram and twitter. Be sure to tag @HeartsofHope and use our official hashtags #HeartsofHope #NowMattersL8R along with #ItsOnUs. You can also use national hashtags like #SAAM to increase awareness of April being national sexual assault awareness month. 

Engage your friends in conversations about affirmative consent. Download the DISCUSSION GUIDE to talk to your friends and peers about what consent means. It's important for people to know that they can't get it without getting consent. You can also download the BYSTANDER INTERVENTION TIP SHEET to help others learn how to immediately identify situations when sexual assault can occur and effectively intervene.

Join the movement!


Myths about Sexual Abuse


MYTH: Child sexual abuse is a cultural or socio-economic problem.
FACT: Sexual abuse crosses all barriers. It happens in large and small families, in cities and rural areas, and in homes, schools and churches.

MYTH: All child victims tell of their abuse.
FACT: Most sexually abused children do not disclose their abuse, even when directly asked by parents or other authority figures. Children may take time to process what has occurred and realize that they should tell, but even then, they may be too afraid that the news will hurt or trouble their family, or that they won’t be believed. Sometimes they are threatened in some way by the offender.

MYTH: Children who are sexually abused will grow up to abuse others.
FACT: Child sexual victimization does not automatically lead to sexually aggressive behaviors. If a child discloses an incident of abuse early and is believed and supported by family and friends, they have a much higher likelihood of coping with the trauma and moving forward into adulthood positively.

MYTH: Children are only sexually abused by men.
FACT: Although male offenders tend to be the majority of reported cases of abuse, reports show that female perpetrators and child-on-child incidents are on the rise. Female offenders have been reported in cases of abuse of both male and female children.

Click HERE for more information about understanding sexual violence.

7 Steps to Protect Our Children


  • It is likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused.
  • It is also likely that you know an abuser. The greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers but from friends and family.
  • 70% of all reported sexual assaults that occur are children under the age of 17.
  • Most child victims never report the abuse.


  • Eliminate or reduce any 1 adult/1 child situations.
  • Teach boundaries.
  • Monitor internet use & keep the computer in the family room.


  • Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.
  • Understand why children are afraid to “tell.”
  • Know how children communicate.
  • Talk to other adults about child sexual abuse.


  • Watch for physical and emotional signs (listed above).
  • Behavioral or emotional signals are more common than physical signs.
  • Be aware that in some children there are no signs ever.


  • Don’t overreact.
  • Support.
  • Report incident.


  • Trust your instincts – very few reported incidents are false.
  • Call the Children’s Advocacy Center in your area if you have questions or concerns about making a report.
  • Call Law Enforcement or the Department of Child & Family Services to make a report of child abuse.


  • Volunteer or financially support organizations that address child sexual abuse.
  • Call or write your Congressman.
  • Support legislation.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: WWW.D2L.ORG or click HERE for a printable brochure

To Book a sexual assault prevention program, contact the Education Director Val Senegal


Watch Dogs on Legislative Bills

Public awareness is important; if we aren't talking about an issue, we tend to think that it does not exist. Change occurs when voices are elevated and amplified.  Listed below are the legislative bills from both the House and the Senate that we will be watching that affect victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence:




  1. HB81 (P. Smith) Adds domestic abuse battery (second offense or greater or enhanced), battery of a dating partner (second offense or greater or enhanced), and certain violations of protective orders to the list of crimes of violence
  2. HB207 (Bagley) Requires anyone who serves a temporary restraining order or protective order to send proof of that service to the Louisiana Protective Order Registry.
  3. HB235 (Hilferty) Requires the Responsible Vendor Program to amend the server curriculum to include training regarding methods of identifying and responding to rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking. 
  4. HB237 (Leopold) Increases certain penalties with regard to the crime of pornography involving juveniles. 
  5. HB261 (Marino) Prohibits harassment by text message.
  6. HB282 (Moreno/G. Carter) Prohibits anyone who has a stalking protective order against them or who has been convicted of stalking from possessing firearms.
  7. HB307 (Thomas) Prohibits public entities from disclosing victim contact info.
  8. HB389 (G. Carter) Increases the term of imprisonment for the crime of sexual battery of persons with infirmities and provides for enhanced penalties when the victim is the resident of a nursing home or other facility and the offender is an employee of the facility. 
  9. HB397 (Moreno)/SB 101 (Sen. Morrell & Rep. Moreno) Creates membership and provides duties of the La. Sexual Assault Oversight Commission. Replaces the AG’s S.A. Task Force.
  10. HB443 (P. Smith) Requires a healthcare provider to notify law enforcement when a person age seventeen or younger presents for treatment of a sexually-oriented criminal offense. (Increases age from 16 to 17, resolving previous conflict in the law regarding mandatory reporting of sexual assault of a minor).
  11. HB400 (Bagneris) Requires a 10-day waiting period for buying or selling firearms.
  12. HB448 (G. Carter) Allows police or prosecutors to obtain a warrant to seize weapons from anyone deemed a danger to themselves or others.
  13. HB458 (James) Requires coroners and law enforcement agencies to report violent deaths to the office of public health and authorizes state participation in the National Violent Death Reporting System.
  14. HB469 (P. Smith) Changes jurisdiction for hearings on sexual assault protection orders. Present law allows district courts empowered to hear civil matters to have jurisdiction over proceedings related to sexual assault protection orders. Proposed law changes present law to require that proceedings related to sexual assault protection orders be heard in courts empowered to hear family or juvenile matters.
  15. HB474 (P. Smith) Requires law enforcement officers to receive mandatory training on domestic violence.
  16. HB499 (P. Smith) Requires rather than authorizes sex education in public schools.  Further, lays out guidelines for effective sex education. 
  17. HB612 (Stokes) Strengthens video voyeurism laws.
  18. SB60 (Martiny) Adds a dating partner as a person who may recover exemplary damages. Extends prescriptive period for a civil action for domestic abuse, family violence or sexual abuse.
  19. SB79 (Gatti) Increases penalties for teachers who engage in sexual relationships with students. 
  20. SB105 (Morrell) Provides that a person cannot give consent to sexual conduct while in police  custody. 
  21. SB231 (Morrell) Creates firearm relinquishment process. Requires mandatory reporting of attempts to purchase a firearm by a prohibited possessor.
  22. SB291 (Barrow)  Extends PSFVRA considerations into all custody proceedings.
  23. SB374 (Barrow)  The Dept. of Public Safety & Corrections (DPSC) and private vendors operating private correctional facilities will work toward addressing the unique issues of incarcerated women and the incarcerated trans population based upon health issues, social and psychological needs, family commitments, and issues surrounding children.

Stand up; speak up and get involved! You can contact your state legislator to express your opinions and/or support of these bills. 

To get involved in Hearts of Hope's cause, contact Val Senegal or Amidie Shaw. Click HERE to register as a volunteer.