Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico

by Centro de Fortalecimiento Familiar de Puerto Rico, Inc. ESCAPE
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico
Breaking the trauma in 400 children in Puerto Rico

In July 2020 we started the second year of the project with the goal of serving 250 people to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria, earthquakes and the pandemic to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence.

As the pandemic continues and to keep the team and participants safe, psychological services continued to be delivered virtually, including support by phone and through virtual platforms. Only participants with high levels of anxiety have received services in -person.

During the period from July to September 2020 we have observed that fear and anxiety about the pandemic and what could happen are causing strong emotions in adults and children. The social distancing and disconnection from community resources are making people feel isolated and lonely and is increasing stress and anxiety. This, added to the traumas related to the passage of Hurricane María and the earthquakes that continues, are stimulating violence in families where it didn’t exist before and worsen situations in homes where child abuse and violence has been a problem.

We have observed the following conditions among minors and adults who have received services during this period.

  • Fear and worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, their financial situation or job, or loss of support services they rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of alcohol.
  • increase in relationship problems.
  • increase in child abuse and domestic violence.

To address the above and minimize trauma in children and adults, during this period psychological, psycho educational and support services were offered to 94 participants.  

From October, the project will develop the "Break Time" initiative. This will be a support group for parents that will meet virtually (bi-weekly) led by the psychologist. In this group the participants will be able to air their worries, frustrations and share their challenges in relation to raising children and the new responsibility of distance education. They will receive recommendations from the psychologist and as needed, may be referred to individual or family interventions.

Thanks to the support of companies that make this project possible, hundreds of children and families are receiving support in one of the most challenging times in the world. This with the goal of protecting children and preventing trauma related to violence and abuse to ensure a stable and healthy future for all.

 We hope everyone who reads this, and their families are safe.

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From July 2019 to July 2020, ESCAPE offered specialized services to children and their families in Puerto Rico to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence. The goal of the project was to serve 400 people. It ended with a total of 543 people served (171% >).

Starting in late December 2019, a series of earthquakes devastated southern Puerto Rico, forcing thousands to take shelter on the streets, in their cars and in government tents as their homes were destroyed. The situation left people on the island traumatized. At the time, many Puerto Ricans were still trying to recover from the shock of Hurricane Maria, a category five hurricane in September 2017.

COVID-19 has only added to the trauma; being at home can place some children at increased risk of, or increased exposure to, child protection incidents or make them witness to interpersonal violence if their home is not a safe place. On the other hand, adults are dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic and their own fears, including lack of food and unemployment. Virus precautions have also made seeking both mental health care and community support networks more difficult and complicated. All this causing an increase in family violence.

For all the above, the psychological and support services of this project are more important than ever. During this period, services continues to serve not only those affected by the passage of hurricanes, but also those emotionally affected by the earthquakes and the actual pandemic.

To keep the team and participants safe, psychological services were initially delivered virtually, including support by phone and through virtual platforms. To this date, the services continue to be offered virtually and in-person. The face-to-face option is offered to participants with Internet challenges or to those who do not master or do not have access to technology.

Among all the psychological interventions identified, anxiety and depression stands out. These conditions together with the stressors related to the three natural disasters experienced on the island increased the occurrence of family violence by 69%. After the interventions, 82% of the families broke the cycles of violence.

In July 2020 we will start a second year of the project with the goal of offer services to 250 people to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria, earthquakes and the pandemic to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence.

We hope everyone who reads this, and their families are safe.

Thanks for the support!

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ESCAPE continue its offering of specialized services to children and their families in Puerto Rico to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence.

Our people, who are still recovering from Hurricane Maria two years ago, then faced from January to March 2020 the challenge of earthquakes that shook our country with over 1,500 displaced families, now are facing an even more serious disaster with the coronavirus pandemic.

During this period, services have expanded to serve not only those affected by the passage of hurricanes, but also those emotionally affected by the earthquakes of January and which continue to the present, and more recently those affected by the threat of the coronavirus. All these disasters have affected and continue to affect families emotionally, increasing the risk of violence and child abuse.

It is important to recognize that those affected by the passage of hurricanes are the same as those affected by earthquakes and now by the coronavirus pandemic. Too many stressors in a period of two and a half years that exponentially may increase the risk of domestic violence and child abuse.

An unintended consequence for children and adults living in abusive homes is that because of the enforced lockdown (to prevent coronavirus spread), they will have to spend more time with their abuser - and thus be at a heightened risk of further abuse. Sadly, there could be scenarios in which girls and boys will be abused for an unforeseeable length of time.

Due to the above, access to free mental health services will be more important than ever on the Island. Thank you for supporting ESCAPE to make this service possible.

To this date, 448 persons have received psychological support, prevention and group support services. After the earthquakes that affected the island, the request for individual and family psychological services increased. People who were fragile after the hurricanes passage, broke due to the continuous anxiety of "another earthquake" and recently by the possibility of being infected or the spread of the coronavirus. Among all the psychological interventions identified during this period, anxiety stands out.

It is important to highlight that to offer support services to a greater number of people, the workshop "They moved the floor, what do I do?" (Me movieron el piso, ¿qué hago?), was held. This workshop led by the psychologist was offered on 10 occasions in different towns of the Island. It offered a safe space for children and adults to ventilate their emotions, experiences and fears, and to learn strategies for the healthy management of their emotions to minimize trauma.

We will continue to offer psychological and support services and modify them to perform them remotely so that we can continue to serve as many people as possible even during quarantine and lockdown.

We hope everyone who reads this, and their families are safe.

Thanks again for the support!

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ESCAPE continue its offering of specialized services to children and their families in Puerto Rico to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence.

To this date, 129 persons have received psychological, support and prevention services. Among the psychological interventions identified during this period, anxiety stands out. In children, anxiety has mostly been related to separation of their main attachment figures either by moving to the United States or death. In addition, some children have presented symptomatology consistent with autism spectrum disorder.

What worries the team the most is the increase in participants with suicidal ideations, including children under 15. Adults and children who had a fragile mental health before the hurricane, have deteriorated during the past two years. This has caused crises that include divorces, domestic violence, others.

To increase the scope of the services, a collaboration agreement with the Carlos Albizu University was formalized to add graduate level psychologists in training to the team.

During this quarter, October to December, the following activities were implemented as part of the Project:

-       New community alliances were formalized

-       Screening, assessment and intake process continued

-       Psychological and case management services were provided including support, coordination of services and follow-up

Thanks again for the support!

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ESCAPE continue its offering of specialized services to children and their families in Puerto Rico to address and prevent post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from Hurricane Maria to minimize the occurrence of child abuse and family violence.

To this date, 38 persons have received psychological and support services. Of these 80% are females. There have been cases of pre-existing mental health conditions as depression, anxiety and stress that worsened after the beginning of hurricane season (2019). Other cases have been of parents looking for tools and support to handle diagnoses of their children, which after the hurricane worsened as: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, others.

During this quarter, July to September, the following activities were implemented as part of the Project:

-       Project team was trained (Psychologist and Service Coordinator)

-       Documents and procedures related to the project were finished

-       Community alliances was formalized

-       Marketing and social marketing materials and strategies were developed and disseminated

-       Screening, assessment and intake process initiated

-       Psychological and case management services were provided including support, coordination of services and follow-up

Thanks again for the support!

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Organization Information

Centro de Fortalecimiento Familiar de Puerto Rico, Inc. ESCAPE

Location: San Juan - Puerto Rico
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ESCAPEpr
Project Leader:
Yadira Pizarro
San Juan, Puerto Rico
$44 raised of $150,000 goal
 
2 donations
$149,956 to go
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