Ravel, this dog who helps child victims of violence to confide in, at the Saint-Lô hospital center

The nurses at Saint-Lô Memorial Hospital have a new, rather special colleague. He is neither a doctor nor a nurse, but a dog! Ravel, a black labrador two years old, arrived at the Medical Justice Unit (UMJ) in January and helps child victims of violence confide, during hearings with gendarmes and police.

A specially trained dog for six months

Ravel is far from a dog like the others. that third forensic assistance dog in France does not bark and has been specially trained for this mission for six months. “He is very calm, really sweet, perfect in the role we ask him to, that is, to be reassuring for the kids”describes Emilie Morançais, one of the two psychologists in the UMJ service and host of the dog.

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We really have the feeling that he supports the child during the hearing – Emilie Morançais, psychologist at UMJ in Saint-Lô

Essential features that the Labrador uses at each audition. “When the child is having a hard time, Ravel will sigh or hold stronger against the child. We really have this feeling that he is supporting the child during the hearing.”notes the psychologist.

With Ravel, children are more able to trust themselves

The children to audition, whether they are 3 or 18 years old, are very often associated with lawsuits about sexual violence. Ravel then allows them to more easily confide. “As soon as we introduce the dog, we immediately see that the child is relaxing and that it is more confident. It is easier to approach these painful things.”notes Chief Emilie Cabon, a police officer attached to Avranche’s family protection group and trained in violence against minors.

The presence of the dog even allows one freedom of speech. “One day the hearing was very awkward and complicated for a little girl. The investigator did everything to calm her down, and at one point the dog sighed, took a deep breath, and she told everything. Without the dog, she would not have spoken.”remembers Emilie Morançais.

Ravel really helps with the reconstruction of child victims – Béatrice Auvray, psychologist at UMJ in Saint-Lô

Ravel thus participated in one sixty auditions since his arrival and leaves good memories for the kids. “Some people come out and say ‘it was too good!’ While still coming to provide extremely difficult information”witnesses Béatrice Auvray, the unit’s second psychologist.

Children victims of violence are being interviewed in this room in the medical-forensic unit of the Saint-Lô hospital center by a police officer or gendarme, now in the presence of Ravel. © Radio France
Chloe Martin

“They remember the dog’s positive memory rather than the policeman’s memory. This moment is often the first stage of the procedure, and therefore of the repair. That’s why we try not to be traumatic., Not to add trauma to trauma. Ravel really helps in this reconstruction”analyzes the psychologist.

To make Ravel’s presence permanent, a agreement has been signed this Friday, May 13, between the Saint-Lô Hospital Center, the Judiciary, the Gendarmerie and the Police Service of the Manche Department and the associations Handi’Chiens and La Voix de l’enfant.

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