The Courage House restoration process offers a balanced approach specifically addressing four distinct areas of a person—body, mind, spirit, and emotions—separately and intentionally.
A Unique Life Plan™ (ULP) is developed with each resident to empower and encourage positive choices allowing her to discover her own unique purpose, strengths, gifts, and talents. It is a comprehensive, holistic plan to ensure each resident’s physical, emotional, psychological, psychosocial, spiritual, educational, and reintegration needs are met.
Mental health professionals agree it takes years of intensive therapy for a child’s emotions to be completely restored to health and wholeness. State funds are available to some extent in the United States for residents, though most state placements do not take into consideration the length of time or frequency of treatment needed. Some services provided may be covered by insurance, while others are dependent on state fund coverage. Private funds, therefore, have to be raised to offset and provide for the costs associated with consistent and frequent mental health services to restore a child’s sense of value, wellbeing, and worth.
The body section of the ULP focuses on physical health goals. Continued description of this section is forthcoming.
Our girls at Courage House have experienced what mental health professionals call “complex trauma,” defined as years of repeated neglect, abuse, and often torture. While this trauma affects all parts of a person, research has proven it also results in significant damage to the brain. All of our girls at Courage House have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and exhibit symptoms in varying degrees. This makes it extremely difficult for them to maintain concentration, complete tasks, pay attention, learn, and plan and process information—all cognitive functions affecting the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning.
Each girl’s ULP has an academic focus. It begins with functional literacy, but can proceed up to a university degree. A girl’s academic goals are determined by her desires and aptitude. Included in the educational portion of a girl’s ULP are assessments for learning disabilities as well as identifying her current educational level. Learning disabilities, low grades, and overall poor performance at school are common symptoms in girls who have been exploited. These symptoms lead to low self-esteem and make these children easy targets for manipulation and exploitation by adult perpetrators and traffickers.
Higher Education Opportunities (over 18 years of age)
At Courage Worldwide, we believe each and every person was created on purpose for a purpose—including our girls at Courage House. Further education is required for some of our girls to be and do all God created them to be and do. Whether attending medical school for those desiring to be brain surgeons, obtaining a master degree for those with the goal of being a social worker, or going to beauty school for those dreaming of a career in cosmetology, we want to provide these resources to our girls as part of the restoration process.
This opportunity is for residents who have successfully completed the educational requirements and desire to attend college. Residents are encouraged to visit campuses of various colleges to have a wide range of options if college is their desire. Local junior colleges, state universities, and Christian colleges and universities are all part of the tour process we provide.
One such university in partnership with Courage Worldwide is William Jessup University (WJU), a Christian-based college in Northern California. Due to its location nearby the previous NorCal location of Courage House, WJU was a prime partner able to offer our girls the ability to easily maintain and sustain the relationships they built within the Courage House family. Courage Worldwide continues to partner with WJU regardless of open Courage House locations.
Each resident may select the college of her choice and Courage Worldwide will secure the funds necessary to make her dream a reality. State and federal grants, as well as other scholarship opportunities, are available and pursued for our girls. Depending upon the college selected, however, the entire cost may not be covered and private funds must be raised.
Each girl at Courage is invited to participate in the dance, music, and arts studio as a means of engaging in creative expression and connecting with her spiritual self creatively.
Additionally, we model and teach the unconditional love of God, expound on each girl’s identity as a child of God, demonstrate the benefits of forgiveness, show and require relational kindness, offer grace and tolerance for each other’s failings, see the girls as God created them to be, confirm each girl was created on purpose for a purpose, and challenge them to have the courage to be and do all God created them be and do. We believe complete and total restoration is possible. The girls at Courage House will be exposed to various Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish methods of prayer and worship, as well as be given the freedom and resources they may need to worship and practice faith rituals as they choose. While participation in services is encouraged, it is not mandatory.
Children who have experienced the evil of sex trafficking and complex trauma display intense and often volatile emotions. They have difficulty with self-regulation, experience chronic depressed moods, feel a sense of emptiness or deadness, have chronic suicidal preoccupation, display excessive expressions of anger, and have difficulty communicating wishes and desires. They experience dissociation, amnesia, and numbing out. They have difficulty in controlling impulses, exhibit self-destructive and aggressive behavior, find sleep unattainable, struggle with eating disorders and substance abuse, and have difficulty understanding and complying with rules and respecting those in authority. Some are sexually aggressive and have confusion over their sexual orientation. Many are suspicious and distrustful, have problems with boundaries, and are unable to attach emotionally. Low or no self-esteem is extremely common as are feelings of shame, guilt, and self-hate. They are literally drowning in emotions.
These behaviors and symptoms are common to individuals diagnosed with PTSD, common to those who have experienced complex trauma, and are very normal to our girls. When our girls are in survival mode, living on the streets, they have the ability to stuff their feelings. Many of them have been doing this for years. Identifying and experiencing long-denied emotions is extremely difficult and painful.
After much research and consultation with mental health professionals, each girl’s ULP at Courage House incorporates therapy with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in trauma. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) as well as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) are evidence-based treatment approaches shown to help children, adolescents, and their caretakers overcome trauma-related difficulties as well as symptoms of PTSD. These therapies are designed to reduce negative emotional and behavioral responses. The treatment addresses distorted beliefs and attributions related to the abuse and provides a supportive environment in which children are encouraged to talk about their traumatic experience.
Restoring a child’s emotions is a long and often complicated process. It requires highly trained professional staff members who exhibit their own emotional health and wholeness, who have immense patience and thick skin. At Courage House, we have found that the restoration process is accelerated by having a warm, safe, and loving home environment as well as mental health professionals who have experience working with this population.