Jocelyn is struggling to overcome an abusive past. A mother of three, Jocelyn was physically abused by her children’s stepfather. She battled with substance abuse that began after the abuse at the hands of her ex. Her children were removed from her care by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) during these periods of physical and substance abuse.
Jocelyn went to the Family Connections agency’s Reunity House program that works to reunite families separated by DYFS involvement. While she has some income, it is not enough to provide for her entire family. Clinicians at the Reunity House are working with Jocelyn to help her regain custody of her children and also to find her full-time employment so she can attain the full independence she seeks.
Jeanette was living in a shelter with her two children, Javier, 10, and Khristine, 6. While at the shelter, Jeanette learned of the DREAMS program operated by the Family Connections agency. The program provides case management and therapeutic services to Essex County children exposed to domestic violence and their non-offending parents. Among the services Jeanette’s children took advantage of was art and drama therapy.
Jeanette was grateful to be a patient despite her reservations about seeking help. She felt the culture she came from was one in which talking about violence and divorce is considered taboo.
After joining the DREAMS program, Jeanette improved her life. She moved out of the shelter and into her own apartment. She also enrolled in school to study medical technology and with the help of Family Connections; she learned how to be a successful single parent.
It is also with the help of Family Services that Jeanette learned of additional aid she and her children qualified for, including after-school programs and summer camp.
Ms. Lopez came to the Family Service League in December of 2011 seeking help in dealing with her two youngest children and anxiety over her pregnancy.
She had been physically abused in her previous marriage and feared the emotional impact it would have on her two children who had witnessed it. Her daughter battled a phobia of attending school while her son had recurrent nightmares about death.
Since working with the Family Service League, Ms. Lopez has strengthened her relationship with her current boyfriend, who is also the father of her twins. Her boyfriend has served as a father figure to Ms. Lopez’s two other children.
The twins died shortly after birth because of a rare skin cancer. The Family Service League has been providing grief counseling to she and her family ever since. Though their past has been a traumatic one, the family members are able to receive free counseling to help them cope with their past struggles.
Calvin’s mother is a crack user and alcoholic. Over the years, she somehow managed to hold onto odd jobs to care for 10-year-old Calvin and his 8-year-old brother. The boys were sent to Youth Consultation Service when it was discovered their mother was physically abusing them when she was high on drugs. YCS was also able to discover the boys had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their mother’s friends.
Calvin’s mother eventually moved to Florida and ceased all contact with him and his brother. While they are aware they are safer and better cared for at YCS, the boys still struggle with feelings of abandonment and longing for their mother. Calvin’s 19-year-old sister is working to gain custody of the two boys and the entire family receives counseling from YCS for their traumatic experience.
Stephanie’s husband abused her throughout their 10-year marriage. He beat her with a stick, leaving bruises all over her body. Even with a good job and her own money, her husband controlled her every move.
Eventually, Stephanie was forced to quit her job, and she and her children lived in constant fear. Stephanie learned of the Rachel Coalition, a division of the Jewish Family Service of Metro West, through another parent at her children’s school. She contacted the agency and an attorney aided her in obtaining a restraining order.
Her husband now has supervised visits with the children and must pay child support. Stephanie and her children have since moved and she has found a new job.
As a child, Quintana’s mother endured years of physical abuse at the hands of her own mother. When she was just 15 she got pregnant with Quintana, and after her birth the cycle of abuse continued.
When Quintana was just 2, mother and child went missing. They were later found living on the streets. Quintana’s mother was arrested for selling drugs and sent to prison. Quintana was sent to an YCS foster home.
Quintana is slowly recovering from her traumatic past at the Therapeutic Nursery program in Hudson County. Her foster mother is hoping to adopt her in the near future.
Jeremy was removed from an abusive household when he was 6. He suffered severe abuse and neglect at the hands of his drug-addicted parents. The Children’s Aid and Family Services agency began caring for Jeremy in one of its group homes.
Jeremy’s upbringing left him angry and unable to control his emotions. He also struggled to accept help or guidance from others, as he was accustomed to caring for himself and his sisters.
To help him channel his emotions, Jeremy received individual and group therapy from the agency, which included participation in yoga and basketball. Children’s Aid and Family Services also provided him tutoring to improve his academic standing, which proved beneficial.
Through the structure provided by the agency, Jeremy has learned to accept help and to trust agency staff. After an 18-month stay in a group home, Jeremy has rejoined his sisters in an adoptive home, and the entire family continues to receive individual and family therapy.
Carol is a 48-year-old mother of three working three jobs to provide for her family. Her 10-year-old son has a rare blood disorder and she is battling mounting medical bills. She came to the Nutley Family Service Bureau nearing bankruptcy.
The agency is providing her and her husband with counseling. Carol’s husband just rejoined the work force after a long period of unemployment and alcohol dependence. He is in recovery from alcohol addiction and has struggled to maintain his sobriety amidst his son’s medical condition and the family’s financial woes.
The counseling services of the NFSB helps Carol and her family improve their communication with each other and their ability to cope during this trying time in their lives.