Abacoa & Alton Neighbors October November 2020

N o v e m b e r 2 0 2 0 | Abacoa &Alton N E I G H B O R S 13 Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County (CFS) is a non-profit social service agency whose mission is to strengthen individuals and families through behavioral health and psycho-educational services. Since 1961, CFS has been serving children, adults, and families who have been affected by trauma through an eight comprehensive programs. • Counseling for Individuals and Families • Counseling for Parents of Young Children • Employee Assistance Program • Partners for Change (Substance Abuse Recovery) • Pre-Natal Plus • S.A.F.E. Kids • Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) • Teen Triple P These programs address the needs of people who are struggling with a variety of issues, such as marital problems, family discord, substance abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, grief and loss, trauma, depression, anxiety, and life transitions. CFS therapists help clients deal with their underlying issues so they can lead satisfying and productive lives. One of the trauma-specific programs at CFS is called S.A.F.E. Kids. As the only recognized Sexual Abuse Treatment Program in Palm Beach County by the Florida Department of Health, this program provides treatment to children and adults who have survived sexual abuse or violent crimes during their youth. Through the S.A.F.E. Kids program, molested children (and their families) learn ways to cope with the impact of their trauma. S.A.F.E. Kids works with children as young as 3-years old, who may have been victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or human trafficking. These are not meant to be the experiences of childhood. However in 2018, Florida had over 34,000 reported victims of child abuse or neglect (Florida Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers). To compound this further, the activities which children would typically look to for relief from their trauma (going to school, the park, movies, and friends’ homes) have been curtailed due to the pandemic. The only emotional outlet these children have is S.A.F.E. Kids. Carlos*, one of the many children S.A.F.E. Kids has helped, was 10 years old when his father brought him in for therapy. His 12-year-old female cousin told him to perform sexual acts on her and tried to make him penetrate her. Shocked and confused, Carlos fought to not go along with his cousin’s demands. She still proceeded to touch him inappropriately and paid him $40 to stay quiet about what had happened. Many children remain silent out of the fear or shame the experience stirs in them. Fortunately, Carlos spoke up and was able to receive help. After meeting with a S.A.F.E. Kids therapist, Carlos learned that he was a victim who had done nothing wrong. For many victims, particularly those experiencing sexual assault, trauma leads to acting out behaviors. The abuse alters their sense of identity and they feel lost. Juvenile sexual assault victims know their molester 93% of the time. Because Carlos suffered at the hands of his cousin, he was blamed for what happened and his family became divided. Carlos, like many victims, blamed himself. Carlos and his therapist worked to restore his sense of self by using safety planning, avenues of expression, and positive coping skills. Through the S.A.F.E. Kids treatment approach, Carlos finally let go of his feelings of blame and showed a significant reduction in anxiety and disruptive behaviors at home and school. Carlos and his family now have the tools they need to cope, communicate, and heal. Childhood is not meant to be such a stressful time, but for many, it is. Though there has been a postponement of many activities in our community, depression, grief, and trauma have certainly not been suspended. The programs at CFS are helping clients cope by making sure they receive the care they need and deserve. For almost 60 years, CFS has been there for the families in Palm Beach County, helping our most vulnerable population to heal. For the month of November, CFS is running an Ab-YOU-se Campaign and asking for your support. Please visit the website below to learn more. For more information, call 561-616-1222 or visit www. ctrfam.org *Names changed to maintain confidentiality The Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County By Fabiana DesRosiers, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer, Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc. CHARITY SPOTLIGHT