When children live with sexual abuse, they learn sexual aggression. They learn that their bodies aren’t their own, and that the world isn’t a safe place.
What does the future hold for children facing this reality?
In time, many find ways to cope with the abuse and reclaim their lives. But some retreat into a lifelong shell of distrust and estrangement. Others cope by transforming their anger into eating disorders, substance abuse or other behavioral problems. And some sexually abused children turn their anger outward in the form of sexual aggression toward others – often, younger children. Whether a child is exhibiting sexual behavioral problems because they have been abused themselves or for other reasons, help is available.
We help these children reclaim their lives.
Many programs exist to treat eating disorders, substance abuse and other mental illnesses. However, children who exhibit sexual behavior problems are, by all standards, among the most challenging to treat, and few treatment programs exist. At INTEGRIS Mental Health, we believe there is hope – and help – for these children. The INTEGRIS STAR program provides both acute and residential treatment for boys and girls ages 5 through 14 in an emotionally and physically secure environment.
When a child exhibits inappropriate sexual behavior in a foster home, he/she is often removed from the home and placed in a juvenile shelter or another foster home. A pattern then develops in which the child finds him/herself experiencing frequent moves from one placement to another. Unfortunately, these frequent moves often preclude consistent specialized outpatient treatment for the sexual behavior problems and/or abuse issues.
Although there is an increased awareness that a significant number of children are exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviors, and that these behaviors are contributing to removal from the home and other behavioral difficulties, there are few specialized treatment programs to address this problematic behavior. The INTEGRIS STAR program is designed to fill that void.
The STAR program also addresses risk factors such as these.
- Treatment for predisposing risk factors – including maltreatment experiences, lack of empathy, insufficient social skills and low self-esteem.
- Treatment for precipitating risk factors – including problems with poor emotional regulation, thinking errors, low impulse control and poor use of conflict resolution skills.
- Treatment for perpetrating risk factors – including issues regarding lack of supervision, lack of appropriate sexuality education and taking full responsibility for the sexually inappropriate behavior.
- Treatment that includes the family – whether the guardian is the family of origin, a foster or adoptive family, DHS/OJA or a kinship, this program is designed to make family therapy an integral part of the treatment process.