Abuse and Trauma in kids on the Rez

Abuse and Trauma in kids on the Rez

Postby FuckingSensitive » February 6th, 2017, 7:05 pm

Hi. I work on the _______ ______ Reservation at a Boys and Girls Club. 100% of our kids are exposed to violence. We have a higher suicide, dropout, alcohol and other drug abuse, domestic violence.... the list goes on... rates than most places in the nation.

I am tired. Kids mention their home lives here and there, and I've normalized all the bull shit situations out of necessity. Everything is fucked. The police sometimes fall through. I am a mandatory reporter but we have very few foster homes out here and so most of the time DSS just decides to keep the kids in their fucked up homes. I heard a story today about how a police officer came to kids house because the kid had told his great aunt about what was going on, and his dad (biological grandpa) was pulled outside by the policeman and asked, "Do you drink?" to which the dad said no, and "Do you hurt _____?" to which the dad said no, so the policeman said alright and left. Dad then comes inside and lets ______ have it because he had tattled.

Just tonight I had two kids crying in my arms because their parents beat them and they were afraid I was going to tattle. Parents, police, whoever. These two kids are also acting out in sexually inappropriate ways.

I just want help. I'm not a counselor but these kids need serious fucking intervention. I want to counsel them. Give me some tools? What can I do in the moment? I have referral forms for a few counseling services here but the waiting lists are phenomenal. Go figure.

Also tell me how to take care of myself in the midst of this. Like I said I have normalized it so I don't process anything. I don't really want to process anything but I know I should.

What the fuck do I do?

Thank you.
FuckingSensitive
 
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Re: Abuse and Trauma in kids on the Rez

Postby RSRA » February 6th, 2017, 7:49 pm

Oof. This is a TOUGH situation. I know you were hoping for more concrete information about how to help these kids in what sounds like a horrendous situation, the most important tool you can give them is you. You are clearly creating a safe place for them, and just being there with them is making a bigger difference than you could possibly imagine. Never, ever underestimate the power of a safe relationship for a kid. You could quite literally be the difference between life and death for them.

As far as the kids who are acting out sexually inappropriately, the best you can do is teach them what is appropriate. I'm sure that the kids you work with range in age, but "Good touch, bad touch" is a good place to start for any of them (and I'm sure you can make this understandable for kids of any developmental age): http://b-inspiredmama.com/10-tips-for-t ... bout-good/

The thing to remember, particularly about the kids with inappropriate sexual behavior, is that they learned it somewhere. This is normal behavior for them, even though you and I know different. It's REALLY SUPER DUPER important not to shame them, but to also teach them what IS appropriate behavior. It's a tightrope, but from the sounds of the excellent work you are clearly doing with these kids, you'll be able to walk it effectively.

If you're going to use this approach with the kids, it might be also helpful to conceptualize their parents in this way. These parents learned this behavior somewhere. Somewhere along the way, they learned that this is the appropriate way to raise kids. In some ways, this may have been their family culture for literally generations (and in my experience, for many kids experiencing physical abuse at the hands of their parents, this is the case). The best way to deal with this issue is to cut off the snake's head, if you will, and go right to the source of the problem. Talk to the parents. Is there opportunity to start a parenting support group of some kind to give them some education? Are they open to listening to people who may give them feedback? Moreover, are you open to this and willing to build a relationship with their parents? It's so easy to operate from a DEEP place of anger for parents who treat their kids this way, but it comes from somewhere. Parents don't just start abusing their kids out of the blue. It's hard to do, but some, like, CAVERNOUS digging for empathy for the parents may need to happen in order to be most helpful for these kids. The hands down BEST book I've ever read on parenting is this one, and I use it with literally every single parent I've ever worked with: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/how-to- ... PLGoP62423

And, this is a fantastic primer to doing this work with parents (and may be helpful for you as well if you decide to embark on this work): https://www.amazon.com/How-Listen-Paren ... 1118012968

It must be so hard to let these kids walk out your door every day. It's really hard not to get REALLY fucking angry at the parents you know are mistreating their kids, and I can certainly understand the heartbreak of having to let a kid leave when you know what they're going home to. It also sounds like you're experiencing some pretty serious vicarious trauma. Do you have a counselor or supervisor that you can speak to candidly about these issues in order to process your own feelings? As far as the rest of the kids are concerned, there is trauma-focused work that can be done by these kids (try to check out TF-CBT practitioners in your area to refer them if there are any - you might live in a really rural area, so the difficulty may be that there just may not be resources there) by a trained practitioner in this work. Because some of their trauma narratives may be incredibly difficult to hear, I would encourage you to just stay a safe space and safe ear for these kids until you can process your own feelings. Even then, because of the environment it sounds like you're working in, vicarious trauma may be a continuous risk for you. It is for any of us who work with kids who have experienced trauma. I encourage you to just practice some serious self care, and sit with someone to talk about it. Take some time off. Detach for a bit if you can (I know - even when you do, it's easier said than done to not have these kids constantly on your mind).

I hope this helps. In April, I'll be going to sexual abuser treatment training. If I find any good resources (much of my training is going to be focused on children and adolescents), I'll be sure to pass them on to you. Best of luck with everything!
RSRA
 
Posts: 24
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Issues: PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Anorexia
preferred pronoun: she

Re: Abuse and Trauma in kids on the Rez

Postby RSRA » August 10th, 2017, 6:05 pm

FuckingSensitive! I found a GRRRRRRRREAT resource for working with kids around appropriate sexual development! (I know - this resource comes about four months later than I was planning, but it will be worth the wait, I promise!)

https://www.advocatesforyouth.org/stora ... ircles.pdf

If you google "Circles of Sexuality", you will find a WEALTH of resources about this program, including a curriculum that you can do with kids around it. It is a PHENOMENAL resource, and I attended a workshop with the woman that developed it - I could have heard her talk about this all day.

Anywho, I hope this helps! I'll keep passing along resources as I get them. :)
RSRA
 
Posts: 24
Joined: February 19th, 2013, 12:22 pm
Location: New Hampshire
Issues: PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Anorexia
preferred pronoun: she


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