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CEO Act for Kids
" Five year old Josh saw his mum brutally stabbed by his father - causing him to suffer horrific nightmares long after the family was safe. "
The legacy of living for years in an extremely violent environment, can mean children remain in a constant state of anxiety, alertness, and fear, even when they are finally safe.
Josh is the youngest of three children. His mother was brutalised by his father for years, and she barely escaped with her life. Although they broke free of the situation, Josh and his family were not free of the trauma and they were all haunted by disturbing memories day and night.
" Exposure to domestic violence can be like living in a war zone. You never know where the next assault is going to come from, and are constantly on the lookout for warning signs. A traumatised parent can find it difficult to support their child emotionally when they are struggling to cope themselves. "
Mum would cry whenever the abuse was mentioned and was unable to provide her kids with the comfort and assurance they needed. The children, particularly Josh, retreated into themselves and suffered in silence.
Alone with his nightmares
When Josh came to Act for Kids he, along with his mum, brother and sister, showed severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They were constantly on edge due to the extreme domestic violence they had experienced.
Through intensive family therapy sessions with Act for Kids’ therapists, Josh and his family re-discovered their family strengths, abilities, interests and values which helped to restore their self-esteem, confidence, resilience, hope and pride. Mum learned how to become attuned and attend to her children’s psychological needs, increasing their capacity to turn to her for help.
" Through art and talking, the kids were able to share their feelings, memories, questions, concerns and beliefs about their experiences of the violence and their imagined and actual sense of threat that remained. "
Rebuilding a family’s life
While understanding the long term impact of trauma, the family was encouraged not to be defined by the abuse. We helped them instigate new activities that had previously not been possible – creating an arts and craft corner in their home, hosting birthday parties and sleep overs, having dinner together at the dining table and going on a camping trip.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2013-14
" Of the more than 40,000 kids who experience substantiated abuse and neglect in Australia, the majority (40%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (28%). "
Abuse and neglect can impact a child’s brain development, how they feel and think about themselves, how successful they are at school, even their physical development and skills. In the long term this can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, difficulty developing and maintaining good relationships, unemployment and all sorts of social disadvantage.
After just three months the family is making great progress. We provided brief but intensive exposure therapy for mum and now, rather than avoid talking about the abuse Mum can recall the violence without becoming emotionally flooded. This means she has a much greater capacity to help her children manage their own trauma and they have now begun family therapy.
While abuse and trauma too often takes place within the context of family relationships, Act for Kids believes with the right support and assistance family relationships can be a source of true healing and repair and prevent children such as Josh from feeling alone with his nightmares any longer.
Thank you for supporting our vision for all kids to have a safe and happy childhood and a brighter future.
We can’t do this important work without your help. We rely heavily on donations to support our intensive therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and early support for families at risk. Your donation will help us keep our doors open and expand our services.
Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Every donation, big or small, combines to make a real difference.CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW
Your generosity means we can continue providing our integrated therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and support services for families.
Becoming a Kids’ Crusader and donating monthly is the best way to help us help kids and families – it means we can direct funds where they’re needed most and make the biggest impact over time.
As an employee, workplace giving enables you to make a regular donation to Act for Kids through your payroll, directly from your pre-tax pay. This means that you receive an immediate tax saving as it reduces your taxable income.
By leaving a bequest to Act for Kids, you can make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect.By including Act for Kids in your will, you offer a gift of hope to future generations and you will help us give abused and neglected children the chance to lead safe, happy and fulfilling lives.
Dr Neil Carrington
Act for Kids
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At three years old Thomas could barely walk or speak, and his body was covered in scratches.