ChildSafe helps hundreds of people each year. Here are a few personal stories that illustrate the results of our treatment programs. (Naturally we've changed the names, but the accounts are real.)
Katy, age 5, comes from an upper middle class, two parent home with loving, supportive parents and extended family. Katy attended daycare at a home that was considered a second family to Katy. What Katy's parents didn't know was that from the time that Katy was 6 months old until she was 3, she was being sexually assaulted by the daycare provider's husband.
Katy's parents noticed that she was at times aggressive, slapping and kicking her parents. Katy felt that her parents must have known what Jim was doing to her and felt that it was okay because they continued to take her to Jim's home for daycare. Jim told her he was her best friend, so at Katy's young age of 3, in her mind a best friend was someone who couldn't be trusted and who hurt you. In preschool she was labeled as 'bad' because she frequently hit or bit other children.
When Katy persisted in kissing or touching little boys at preschool, the staff was alarmed. She, like many of the children in treatment at ChildSafe, was headed for expulsion from preschool and further labeling. The very coping mechanisms that this child developed as a way of dealing with her early sexual abuse became the source of yet another layer of dysfunction and problems.
Fortunately, at the age of 3, began receiving therapy from ChildSafe when her parents found out what Jim had done to her. In addition, her parents became actively involved in one of the parents' therapy groups where they were given tools to help her heal.
Today, at age 5, Katy is well on her way to leading a functional, healthy life - quite different from the life she would have led without the therapeutic intervention.
When Kevin was 7, his newly divorced young mother turned to her family for help. While she was looking for a job; she, Kevin, and his two younger brothers all moved in with her aunt. Also sharing the house part-time was the aunt's boyfriend, and soon this person secretly began a 'grooming' relationship with young Kevin.
While this was happening, Kevin's mother became involved with Rob, a new boyfriend of her own. Rob became concerned about the relationship he was seeing and the young boy's behavior. When he told Kevin's mother what he suspected, she was horrified.
Rob and Kevin's mother reported their concerns to the Department of Human Services. The family moved out of the aunt's house, and Kevin was enrolled in ChildSafe, where he received play therapy for nearly a year. His mother and Rob were also counseled on how to help the boy heal.
Kevin is a well-adjusted teenager now. Because someone noticed, acted to stop the abuse, and saw that he received prompt therapy, he is now able to live the normal, healthy, happy life of a teen.
"Mommy, mommy, I found my voice." This is what 8 year old Susan yelled as she raced up the stairs from the play therapy room. She jumped into her mother's lap and proclaimed, "Now he can never hurt me again."
Susan had been molested for several years by her stepfather, but eventually she was able to tell her grandmother what was being done to her. During the years of her abuse, Susan had become more and more quiet and withdrawn. As she and her mom left the ChildSafe offices, Susan proudly announced to everyone in the waiting room this wonderful thing she had discovered.
An adult survivor was sitting in the waiting area and heard Susan's proclamation. Carrie entered her therapist's office in tears, stating, "I wish I'd found my voice when I was that age."
Carrie had been molested by her mother's brother from the age of 4 until she ran away from home at age 15. She was labeled as 'learning disabled' at school, had a serious eating disorder, and was a heavy drug and alcohol abuser. She shoplifted and was promiscuous. She told her ChildSafe therapist that not once as a child did anyone ask her why she was behaving the way she was.
When she was in her 20's, Carrie's brother committed suicide because he could no longer manage the memories of his sexual abuse. That was the catalyst for her to get clean and sober. Now Carrie is working hard in therapy to regain her physical and emotional health.
ChildSafe runs therapy groups for female abuse victims, ages 7-9, 10-13, and 14-18. As happens with most of our therapy groups, the girls in these groups form tight bonds with each other and try to heal together.
In spring 2008 the girls' group for ages 10-13 had a speaker, an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse who spoke to them about her journey to healing. Immediately after that the girls decided they wanted to have their stories told in the newspaper. The girls' therapist developed the idea of having the girls write their own newspaper.
The newspaper they created includes tips to other girls for how to stay safe, as well as tips for parents of sexually abused children. It was a great therapeutic tool for the girls, and has proved to be an inspiration for others. You can read it here.
A few years ago, the girls in the ChildSafe therapy group for teens wanted to do something together to reinforce and communicate the concepts they were learning in the group. They had the idea of creating a poster that would illustrate the healthy thoughts that were helping them recover from abuse.
They found that a single post was not enough. They made a pair of them, and called them 'Prescriptions For Healing'.
These colorful posters were so attractive and inspiring that we had them printed, and use them to illustrate ChildSafe's activities. If you'd like a copy of either or both, we sell them for $5 apiece. Just contact our office.