Our agency was about to close one evening, when a young girl and her mother came to the doors of our agency at the request of the Denton Police Department and Denton ISD. The young girl had made an outcry to her school counselor about being sexually assaulted by an older male. The girl’s mother was in a state of shock, as was the young girl. Mom was trying to juggle many things in her mind: the instructions provided to her by the school, the police department’s questions, her daughter’s feelings and thoughts, her own feelings about the situation, and the victim’s siblings’ feelings about what was happening. She was attempting to understand all these things in a language that she does not fully understand, as she and her family are from another country. Mom first came to the United States, like many other immigrants, in search for a better life for her and her children; she, too, is a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. The father of her children was also abusive to their children.
The evening of their arrival to Denton County Friends of the Family, a counselor who spoke their native language was made available to mother, daughter, and siblings that were present. The counselor tended to the mother’s needs by answering her questions in a manner that she was able to comprehend, as they were in her own language. This brought solace to this Mom because she felt that someone cared enough to provide her with the answers to her questions in an empathetic manner. Her child was taken to a separate office to see a counselor. Once in the office, the counselor provided services to her in both English and her native language in order to provide a safe space for the client to tell her story, in her own way. After speaking with the daughter, both she and her mother went to the police department to make a report against the abuser. As part of their initial meeting at DCFOF, both the child and her mother signed up for individual and group counseling. As time passed, Denton County Friends of the Family Advocates worked in conjunction with other community members to ensure that the family’s counseling, school, and housing needs were met. Mom enjoyed the individual counseling services that were provided to her and continued to attend both individual counseling services and support group.
This Mom has always been a very hard worker, attending to two jobs and taking on side jobs in janitorial services to make ends meet for her family. As a client of DCFOF, she has attended and made use of information provided to her in the Financial Empowerment Program. Mom has also attended Nutrition classes to learn how to provide healthy meals on a budget for her family. These tools, coupled with Mom’s determination and sense of hope have brought her and her family to a place in life where they now reside in their own home, which Mom is able to financially sustain on her own. The child, who became pregnant as a result of her assault, gave birth to a child of her own. Through collaborative efforts between Denton County Friends of the Family and other community agencies, she has been through individual counseling services and parenting classes that have assisted her in providing competent parenting skills. While attending services at another community agency, she was invited to go on a special summer camp to learn different ways to bond with her child. DCFOF was able to help provide her with some financial assistance to truly enjoy this camp. At this time, the abuser has served over a year’s time in jail and has been deported to his country of origin. Mother and daughter reside in the same home with daughter’s son and her two siblings. She will continue to attend school this year, feeling safe and supported by her family and Denton County Friends of the Family.
Written by: Dr. Catherine Sang, DCFOF's Individual and Group Therapy Counselor