Finding trauma-informed resources can be tricky, but seems to be getting easier. Finding trust-based resources that do not focus heavily or consequence-based behavior modification is next to impossible. When we set out to integrate 3 Ethiopian adolescents into our home, we were committed to using trust-based principles. In the names of “not inducing more trauma” and “not triggering further abandonment issues,” we attempted to handle aggressive (physically and verbally), and sometimes violent, behavior privately. While we did involve a phenomenal, EMDR-trained, trauma therapist early on, we were slow to seek out additional community-based resources because we were afraid they would just try to modify behavior and not get to the root. Do behavior contracts sound familiar? We were convinced the next big breakthrough was just around the corner and tried everything from EMDR, to reassessing and reassessing what WE were doing, to neurotransmitter testing, to essential oils, to help from friends to do tutoring. In hindsight, we completely sacrificed and traumatized 7 other people in our house to try to protect 1. As we got more and more desperate, we finally resorted to asking the state to step in with services (but trying not to sound too desperate), to medication, then, to public school. Our situation continued to deteriorate.
Now here we are with 1 hospitalization under out belts and 5 kids who are done. dah-done. done. done and dozens of professionals who claim they don’t have enough documentation to get us the out-of-home placement everyone needs. Instead, we have to continue in this dangerous (yes, threat of emotional abuse is dangerous) situation long enough for more professionals to come in and attempt to witness it OR allow one of us to be harmed physically enough to need medical attention before we can be helped. In our situation, we can’t even pay for private services if we had the money. We’ve already been denied multiple services due to her high education needs or to her age (too old at 14) or to the fact that she’s not recommended to be in a house with other children. We opened another voluntary social services case (no holding back desperation this time) that they’ve already tried to close because we’re trying to keep our family safe. Don’t get me started.
Apparently we should have been utilizing community-based in-home and wraparound services all along. The problem? We didn’t know they existed, or, once we heard of them, we weren’t convinced we were that needy. Sometimes we’re like the proverbial frog in the hot water, and we’re cooked before we realize it.
May I give you some advice lest you find yourself between a rock and a really hard place like we are?
If you are experiencing behaviors in your home that are exhausting you or any other household members, seek help. You may have to call your local CPS or DSS to get it. I know this may seem like sleeping with the enemy, but I am here to tell you, that they do not come in with suspicious eyes when YOU initiate the call. When you call, throw around words like “safety,” “family preservation,” “voluntary in-home services,” and “community-based resources.”
That may sound something like, “I’m calling to self refer our family for voluntary in-home services. We have a child with escalating behaviors, and I want to be proactive about keeping our family safe.” It may kill you to do it, but throw that kid under the bus and make it sound as bad as you fear it is. You want to get help and not get dismissed. Additionally, remember this is a voluntary process. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, you can close your case. Trust me, they are overworked and underpaid. They do not want to deal with you if you don’t want them. In fact, we’ve already had two cases CLOSED WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION trying to get help.
You can ask for services such as “in home behavior support,” “in-home family counseling,” and “crisis intervention or stabilization.” Other types of help we’ve found extremely helpful are “family navigators” and “education advocates.” All the above services should be free through your local jurisdiction. The family navigators and education advocates are actually moms who have walked in your shoes and have been specially trained to navigate the bureaucracy of the state to help families have it easier than they did. Brilliant!
You may be hesitant to get these resources, but they may give you space to be a better trust-based parent. WIN!
What community-based resources have helped your family?