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23 August 2017 | 15:08

Supporting resilience in child victims of abuse in Lithuania

Supporting resilience in child victims of abuse in Lithuania
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How the assisted resilience can help child victims of physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse find within themselves the resources to overcome this ordeal? Here is the project that has been conducted by BICE and its partners in Lithuania.

134 child victims of abuse have been taken care of

As part of the programme against sexual abuse, BICE has initiated with its Lithuanian partner, Children Support Centre, and the Catholic University of Milan, a project around the resilience of child victims of abuse and sexual abuse in Lithuania.

This project that was launched during the summer 2016, targets 134 children aged from 7 to 17 years old in Vilnius. Most of these children come from difficult family backgrounds (death of one of the child’s parents, unemployment, alcoholism, problems with the law, etc.). They have been -some still are- victims of sexual abuse or physical or psychological chronic abuse from their parents or peers.

Thanks to Children Support Centre, these children have been followed by a team of 31 Lithuanian psychologists who are already specialised in working with child victims, and who have been trained by the Catholic University of Milan in the assisted resilience methods. Here the objective is twofold: on one hand, the objective is to support the child victims in the process of resilience and enable them to find within themselves the resources to overcome their trauma; on the other hand, it consists in elaborating an evaluation grid that can be more widely used to identify and promote the key resources (that is, the protective factors) that are essential to the resilience for this kind of trauma.

Children are taken care of all year long with one session per week. Three missions are carried out to assess their progress and guide the therapy to help better meet their needs: before the beginning of the therapeutic follow-up; after 6 months; and at the end of the year. Then, these three missions will be the subject of a report.

Receiving training on the assisted resilience that is adapted to child victims’ needs

The assisted resilience sessions rely on the tools of art therapy. The child is invited to express what he or she cannot say directly through child-specific means of expression (drawing, storytelling…).

The first report that was drafted in July 2016, highlighted that it existed an important perception gap between parents and children regarding the child’s suffering and his or her ability to cope. The parents most often minimise the child’s pain and they underestimate his or her resources to overcome the ordeal, in cases of extra familial abuse as much as in cases of intrafamilial abuse.
Therefore, the therapy was completed on the ground by a part aiming at getting parents and children closer together so that they can resume the dialogue around their respective emotions.

The second report that is being drafted, is positive: children seem to feel better after 11 sessions and significant improvements at the resilience and post-traumatic syndromes levels have been noted. However, the “coping” strategies (that is, the way to talk about and solve a problem in daily life), do not progress: children prefer to escape the problems rather than looking for solutions. A new adjustment is to be realised in the coming weeks to also help children on this point.