BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - During the month of April, you may see a lot of people wearing the color blue for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Wednesday, dozens of agencies from across the state gathered at the IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi to be a part of the three day One Loud Voice conference that helps cross train those who deal with children who have been a victim to abuse.
"We're all here to protect the child, so we're going to have sessions on how to respond on victim advocacy and investigating cases. Just a plethora of topics that are related to the investigation and treatment of cases where a child has been abused," said Karla Tye, Executive Director of the Children's Advocacy Centers of Mississippi.
Tye says because many agencies get involved when a child is victim to abuse, they want to make sure they can be the voice to the many children who are afraid or don't know how to speak out.
To help paint a better picture of what it takes to help those in need, Darlene Ellison came from Dallas, TX, to share her story of being a victim and married to someone who she later found out was a sex offender.
"I started talking about it probably a year after it happened in mine and my children's lives. Really to show my children how to take the elephant out of the room and show them that it wasn't about them or their last name or anything that any of us had done," Ellison said.
Ellison says talking about the issue is the first step to both protecting and helping victims heal.
"The hope is that in leading a conference like this, as an opening keynote, that we can remind people of the prevention aspect and remind them that child abuse knows no socioeconomic status, no race, no gender, and that we're all about prevention," Ellison said.
Ellison has been traveling across the country for years sharing her story, and she says there are two points that she hopes those listening can take away from her testimony.
"The inside out rule. That's when we have to work with children and talk to them at a very young age. Then, my other message in doing keynotes in these conferences is to remind the very people who have chosen this profession, the very people who have chosen to give their lives to this industry, they are making a huge difference in the battle against child abuse," Ellison said.
For more information about child abuse and how you can report child or vulnerable adult abuse or neglect, you can visit http://www.mdhs.state.ms.us/.