Were you aware of how many children are abused and neglected in our communities and the world and who often never receive any early abuse assessment and treatment intervention? Professional School Counselors, Clinical Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Educators, Administrators and others hear about these cases every day. We can all make a difference! Just a sampling of some of my clients over the years:
- 4 European-American sisters aged 3, 4, 5 and 8 were abused and subjected to inappropriate daily observations of their drug-addicted mother having sexual encounters with strangers daily. The mother and father lost their parental rights and the uncle and aunt who had 1 son adopted this family of nieces. Pastoral counseling provided abuse recovery support along with assisting the uncle/aunt how to understand the impacts of abuse and make developmental, psychological, and spiritual supports to their new family.
- A 25-year old high functioning African American college educated professional grew up viewing her Christian father viewing pornography daily. This emotional abuse impacted her psychological and sexual identity; she needed support for her depression and anxiety being in relationships with men.
- 30 year-old European American mother exposed to chaos living in an alcoholic home with an emotionally unavailable father who did not “rescue her” from this “madness.” She struggled with sustaining healthy male and female relationships as an adult child of an alcoholic.
- A 14-year old African-American female was sexually abused by her brother’s friends while he was in another room in the house listening to loud music. The mother brought her in for counseling and eventually she disclosed her abuse during supportive counseling.
Students in Trinity’s Counseling programs will learn (or have learned) about mandatory reporting and how to collaborate with Child Protective Services. Professional Counselors and Educators also contribute a vital role in providing prevention information (educating the community about abuse and resources for help) and professional school counselors and clinical mental health counselors can provide early prevention awareness, assessment, and mental health services. Often, adults did not get intervention until much later, and the literature well documents these long-term impacts.
Let’s take leadership and have the prevention conversations early and direct individuals, families, and communities to local resources for help. We all have a responsibility.
Deborah G. Haskins, Ph.D., LCPC
Assistant Professor/Director of Counseling Programs