Living in a hotel room with three children ages 2-10, Maria felt completely out of control. Her youngest son was screaming and clinging to her as her boyfriend yelled and stormed out the door after another fight.
With life caving in on her, Maria wondered if she would have enough money for another week’s rent. The children were fighting once again. At her wits end, she lost her temper and began screaming and hitting the children. Maria felt guilty and desperate.
A few days later, Maria attended her fourth Nurturing Home class. The lesson focused on her own childhood. The teacher talked about the results of trauma on current decisions, emotional issues and the development of physical diseases. She took the ACE test that revealed what she often tried to ignore. Her Adverse Childhood Experiences or “ACE” score was 6 out of 10 (click here to find out your ACE score).
After 3 more weeks of class, Maria and her children began in-home visits from a Family Center counselor to coach her around the skills she learned in class. Feeling safe in the one-on-one visits, she began sharing her story of childhood trauma; sexual abuse, physical abuse, and family violence. Her adult life of substance abuse, incarceration and domestic violence added even more trauma to her story…as well as her children’s.
Maria realized she didn’t know how to be safe. She continued the only lifestyle she knew, complete chaos. Her counselor began to focus on helping her create a safe environment and use effective discipline techniques. One of the last sessions focused on creating family rules, consequences and rewards. After only one week, the counselor came back to see that the new tools had drastically improved family relationships.
Today Maria is living in a permanent home with more guidelines, and most importantly, lots of nurturing moments with her children. Decreased trauma exposure and increased safe, stable and nurturing relationships means each child will have a better foundation for the future.