All of the funds raised at CALICO’s One Child at a Time Picnic support CALICO’s forensic interviewing and family support services. Many of the grants CALICO receives throughout the year are designated for specific services, geographic areas, or families with children of certain ages. Funds raised at the picnic allow CALICO the flexibility to ensure we can provide prompt, quality services to all families referred, regardless of their composition and circumstances, as was the case with Jennifer who recently came to CALICO.
Moving to a new state can be hard for anyone, but this transition can be especially complicated for a child who moves to escape reminders of abuse. Fourteen-year-old Jennifer had been sexually abused by her uncle in Mississippi for years. After disclosing the abuse, her uncle was arrested and no longer able to hurt Jennifer, but Jennifer found being at home difficult. Her family agreed that Jennifer would move from her home in Mississippi to be with her mother who lives in Oakland. While that decision brought relief to Jennifer, it also meant she was leaving behind the team of professionals who would be there to support her through the legal process and her healing.
Thankfully Jennifer’s attorney in Mississippi reached out to CALICO and our partner agencies for help. With Jennifer now living in California while the legal case was being prepared in Mississippi, it was difficult to have meaningful contact with her lawyer and victim advocate. The family did not have internet service in their home, so CALICO stepped up and created a safe, comfortable environment for Jennifer to connect via Skype with the legal team she had not yet met. While Jennifer had her first “face-to-face” meeting with the District Attorney and victim advocate who would support her through every step of the trial, one of CALICO’s Family Resource Specialist, Irene, sat down with Jennifer’s mom to find out how the family was doing and what help they needed.
Irene learned that they family was struggling with health problems and accessing services locally, so she offered referrals. But more importantly, Irene learned that Jennifer was depressed and the family was doing their best to help but things were not getting better. Nervous that Jennifer was dwelling too much on the abuse, the family used humor to try to distract her and get her to talk about other things. Irene helped Jennifer’s mom understand how children often respond to abuse -- she explained that being upset or depressed is normal, and that while humor can help, it can also result in the victim feeling unheard or misunderstood. As a first step, Irene encouraged Jennifer’s mom to listen more to what Jennifer was trying to say about the abuse, and that talking about it would help her feel heard and supported and better able to ultimately move forward and heal.