The Brown Family received services at Family Crisis Center, after a neighbor phoned the police to report a “family fight.”
Jake was arrested for “assault on a household member” after his seven-year-old son, Caleb, told officers what had happened. His Dad had hit his mother, Jan, with his fist, pushed her down and then pulled her back to her feet by her hair. Caleb and his two older sisters went to the Family Crisis Center Protective Shelter with their Mom, Jan.
After a couple of days in the safety of the protective home, Jan felt free to talk with her counselor at Family Crisis Center about the abuse she had experienced. She had been physically harmed many times throughout their fifteen year marriage, but she was afraid to tell anyone what was happening in her home.
“It was just too embarrassing,” Jan said. “And he always hurt me enough that I knew he could have killed me and if I didn’t stay in line, he would.” She felt as though everything was out of control with her family. For months, Caleb had awakened in the middle of the night, screaming. Her ten-year old was withdrawn and failing fifth grade and her thirteen-year-old had been hanging around older boys and Jan suspected she had been drinking. “Jake says it’s because I’m not a good mother or wife. I guess I’m not,” Jan said through tears.
Along with Jan, all three children began receiving counseling services during their two-and-a-half month stay at the protective home. Although Jan declined the staff’s offer to assist her with a protection order at first, she agreed after she spent a Sunday with her parents. She returned to the protective home tearful and distraught. Her parents had encouraged her to return to Jake and it was obvious to her he had been “charming” them with his pleas that it was all just a big misunderstanding, that he just wanted his family back. She wondered if they were all right. Perhaps Jack was right and she couldn’t make it without him, anyway, she told the Advocate at the shelter.
But Jan said she was intrigued by the information she had already gotten from the groups at the protective home. Jan began the first job she had been allowed to hold since her first child was born, so that she and her children were able to share a rental house with a friend and her teenage daughter. Jan’s relationship with her children strengthened, but she didn’t spend much time with her parents, who persistently encouraging her to reconcile with Jake. Jan and her children continued with their counseling at Family Crisis Center. Over the next months, Jan began to grow stronger and gain confidence. Jake’s nightmares occurred less frequently and he started playing soccer.
Ten-year-old Amanda began to make new friends and her grades improved. Jan and her daughter Melissa had frequent disagreements, and often depended on the support of counseling staff at Family Crisis Center. Melissa sometimes went back to inappropriate friendships with older boys, the source of most disagreements between her and her mother. After a year of counseling, in which Melissa frequently withdrew and refused to participate, she had a “breakthrough” after another teen in her group openly broke down as she poured out details of her father’s abuse toward her mother. Melissa wept with her and was finally able to begin processing the abuse she witnessed between her parents from the time she was very young. Jan and Melissa continue to work on their relationship, and Jan is insisting on respect and Melissa complies most of the time.
Meanwhile, the court “mandated” Jake into the 52 week offender program at the Family Crisis Center Counseling Center. After a period of resisting participation, Jake finally engaged with the groups and his counselors. He was finally able to work through the anger he held from the abuse he had witnessed and experienced as he was growing up and began to learn that relationships worked much better when he gave up the desire to control. He still has times of depression when he has to send his children home after a short visit, but has begun to enjoy playing softball.
While each member of the Brown family continues with the support of counseling, each has come a long way and would each agree they are much happier.