Kids who are abused and neglected can find it difficult to express themselves in words or interact positively with other children. They struggle to understand their feelings and frequently feel overwhelmed.
Anxious and afraid
Chloe was removed from her mother when she was just seven months old. Her mum had a history of substance abuse and mental health issues and wasn’t able to properly look after her new baby girl. Chloe was affected by the drugs before she was even born and her first six months of life were unpredictable and scary. As a baby she was looked after by many different people which affected her ability to form attachments with adults.
Angry and aggressive
Although Chloe is now living in a safe environment with her foster family, she has many daily struggles that affect her relationships with those around her. She has difficulties managing her emotions, she’s self-conscious, has obsessive catastrophic thoughts, craves being in control, is medicated for ADHD and lacks social skills and boundaries with strangers.
Chloe came to Act for Kids when she was nine years old. Early in therapy, our team could see the emotional ‘walls’ that Chloe put up to avoid engaging in conversations around feelings.
Chloe presented a tough exterior to avoid feeling vulnerable. Her foster mum desperately wanted to strengthen her relationship with Chloe and was a big part of the Integrated Therapy Treatment.
“She would walk around the room, try to distract the therapist and her foster mum and try to seek control of the room. When we could get her to sit still, she needed to have emotional breaks every few minutes.”
How we helped
Our psychologist, helped Chloe and her foster mum engage in attachment-focused therapy to explore Chloe’s early experiences of neglect and learn about Chloe as a baby to help develop a healthy self-concept. Although Chloe found it hard to talk about her feelings, she gave our psychologist permission to label her thoughts and feelings and Chloe would tell her therapist if she was correct or incorrect. A small step towards some really powerful therapeutic work!
Over the last six months, Chloe has been processing the trauma from her childhood and exploring the links between her early experiences and her current anxieties. She has started to enjoy hearing about herself as a baby and her relationship with her foster mum is strengthening everyday.
Chloe can now engage in therapy with her foster mum for an hour and a half – something she never could have done six months ago! Her anxiety has reduced as has her obsessive thoughts and she’s finding it much easier to let go of control.
Chloe is now well on her way to experiencing a normal and happy childhood. With the help of our therapists and lots of hard work, she is seeking comfort in her foster family and learning to be a little girl again!
The Bigger Problem
children accessed child protective services
1 in every 32
Under 12 months old
where most likely to be abused
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2019-20.
Abuse and neglect
The majority (54%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (22%). One in five (14%) experience physical abuse and 9% experience sexual abuse.
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.
Early intervention makes the world of difference
It takes a lot of hard play to heal little hearts. Although Chloe continues to make improvements she will need long-term support to help her really overcome her experiences. She has had to cope with a lot of trauma already in her short life, but with continued support and positive reinforcement she will go on to achieve her full potential, expressing herself with confidence, and no longer filled with fear and anxiety.
Thank you for helping us to give these kids the childhood they truly deserve. Thank you for supporting our vision for all kids to have a safe and happy childhood and a brighter future.
How you can help
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.
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