Parents whose children enter foster care have often experienced serious trauma, including sexual assault, physical abuse or abandonment in childhood, community violence, and domestic violence. Research in NYC has found that more than half of mothers with children in care met the criteria for PTSD. Yet parents are rarely screened or treated for trauma. Learning about trauma–and the feelings of rage, shame, fear and hopelessness that so often come from trauma–can help you find the right supports and build a safer life for yourself and your children.
Interview by Nancy Fortunato, Jeanette Vega and Robbyne Wiley
Glenn Saxe, a developer of Trauma Systems Therapy and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, explains how caseworkers can respond to signs of possible trauma.
Q: How can you tell if a parent’s actions are related to past trauma?
A: As a caseworker supervising visits, you may see surprising responses, like a parent getting very withdrawn in certain moments. Over time, you may see … Read More
In my family, chemical dependency and physical abuse were the tools we used to survive. That way of coping has been going strong in my family for decades. The result for my siblings and me was that we were removed and placed in foster care twice—first when I was 5 years old, and then for good when I was 8.
I grew up in the system with a powerful force inside of me: a burning desire … Read More
Recently I had a chance to read the report “Expectant & Parenting Youth in Foster Care: Addressing their developmental needs to promote healthy parent and child outcomes” by Charlyn Harper Browne at the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
I became a mother while I was in foster care, and I found the report inspiring, relatable and informative. The report says that parents in the system and their children do best if the parents … Read More
I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). When I was little, my mother hit and kicked me all the time. My step-dad abused me. I’ve been raped multiple times. The last time was in 2005. I’ve dealt with all of this mostly by smoking weed and staying in my house.
I want to get treatment and live life. But going to counseling and speaking to others about what I’ve held in for so long … Read More
Bessel Van Der Kolk, medical director of the Justice Treatment Institute’s Trauma Center in Massachusetts and renowned trauma treatment researcher and specialist, talks about ways to recover from trauma.
Q: Your recent book is called “The Body Keeps the Score.” Can you explain what that means and why it’s important for people who have experienced trauma to understand it?
A: Trauma lives in our bodies. Our brains try to keep our bodies from feeling that trauma. But … Read More