Conquering the Past
It is challenging enough to be homeless. But imagine the anguish of making the difficult decision to send your children to live with other people because you are homeless. And imagine the devastation when you learn that one of your children has been sexually assaulted by the person who took her in.
Amy* suffered through that assault, and it not only violated her but also isolated her family from their community as people took sides. A Family Stabilization Team (the team) from The Home’s Safe at Home program stepped in when Amy, a teenager by then, began attempting suicide and experiencing repeated hospitalizations stemming from the rape.
Initially, the team concentrated on home-based therapy for the family. “We worked with Amy to build a trusting relationship with us, so that she could talk to us about the abuse,” a member of the team explained. The team also worked with her mother, Jackie*, and sibling to help them develop coping skills to deal with this and future crises. In particular, the team helped Jackie to overcome her fears and her lost trust in herself as a parent.
When the team met the family, Amy was enrolled in a day hospitalization program. In addition to working with the family at home, the team coordinated care and a safety plan with the hospital and with Amy’s outpatient therapists. The team also assisted Jackie in negotiating with the school system to find a new placement for her daughter. They organized safety plans for Amy with school officials, as well as created a crisis-intervention network from existing care providers for the rest of the family.
With the support of family and of care providers, Amy eventually transitioned back to high school after several months in the hospital. Although this normally would be considered a successful end to a team intervention - the child was re-established in a nurturing setting and the cycle of hospitalization was over - the story has an even happier ending.
Two years later, the team received an invitation to Amy’s high school graduation: she was valedictorian and had been accepted at a prestigious area college. Team members credit both Amy and Jackie with Amy’s success: “Jackie had a huge commitment to her children, and Amy had a lot of resilience in terms of getting confidence from her success at school.”
*Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality.