Helping children to heal from the trauma of abuse and neglect means giving back to them something that should never have been taken away in the first place - their childhood.
The trauma that results from experiences of abuse and neglect stays with children long after the abuse itself has stopped.
No part of their lives remains untouched by the hurt they have endured. Their sense of safety, their self-esteem and their ability to trust are all savaged. The way their brains develop can be affected. Their ability to learn, or even sit calmly in a classroom is compromised. They are often unable to form friendships. Their feelings of pain, anger and betrayal become unbearable. They blame themselves for the abuse that was never their fault, often suffering alone in shame and silence. The world makes little sense to them and their ability to function in it is diminished.
Without specialist help and protection, trauma stays with children and can lead to a lifetime of struggle marked by depression, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, crime, mental illness or suicide.
But in the face of so much hurt and harm, there is also hope. Our approaches to helping the recovery of traumatised children and the prevention of abuse, continue to transform children’s lives for the better.
We have established highly specialised trauma teams: people who create positive relationships around children that protect them and help them to recover, and find stability and security in their lives.
Being a truly community-based organisation means our Trauma Recovery Teams work throughout Australia, including in remote and regional areas. It also means we collaborate with many other not-for-profit organisations and child-focused agencies to ensure traumatised children are given the very best chance of recovery.
We have specialist trauma centres dedicated to recovery and healing, and have established approaches to supporting children that ensure recovery is lasting and meaningful. Our Trauma Counselling Teams use a range of different approaches including art, play and creative therapies to give children back the sense of joy, laughter and discovery that are so much a part of childhood.
Our Foster and Residential Care Trauma Team specialists take our understanding, research and knowledge of trauma into the field to support foster carers and residential care staff. They clock up thousands of kilometres a year, visiting the carers and unit staff, as well as teachers and other professionals working with children, to help them understand trauma so they can better support children who have been abused and neglected.
Our Parenting Support Team works with vulnerable parents who are struggling to make changes in the way they are raising their children. The specialist support workers run groups and provide counselling to parents that help them focus on improving their relationships with children. Once parents understand more about what helps children develop, many of them learn to stop cycles of destructive behaviour with their children, which changes them and their family in a positive and sustained way.