Easton, his mom and his two younger brothers were facing an uphill battle. The family had recently left Easton’s dad due to his ongoing physical and emotional abuse which meant they had to flee their home. While they had found safety at a local shelter for survivors of domestic violence, their unhealed trauma and unmet mental health needs impacted their interactions --making communicating and healing together difficult. As an added stress, the Department of Social Services (DSS) had gotten involved in their situation due to ongoing safety issues between them. Easton and his brothers’ conflicts often escalated into violence, causing further trauma and harm. And the after-affects of domestic violence crippled Easton’s mom’s ability to intervene to keep them safe. This, as well as Easton’s mom increasing substance use, put their ability to stay together as a family at risk.
While at the Shelter, the family received critical support. Easton’s mom was connected with a new therapist who supported her efforts to remain sober and utilize different coping skills to help her cope with her trauma, anxiety and stress. She also started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings which gave her a healthy outlet and a renewed perspective. The family was also supported in securing housing, food and clothing, and began engaging in family therapy. But while all of these supports were needed and helped them as a unit, Easton still struggled. The impact of his violent childhood colored everything, and the ongoing challenges his family now faced only added to his feelings of fear and instability. During a very difficult family therapy session, Easton ended up having a severely violent outburst directed towards his mom which resulted in him being hospitalized for a mental health assessment. There, Easton was diagnosed with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which manifested in violent behaviors and suicidal ideations. DSS then referred Easton and his family to SLO County’s Behavioral Health to begin receiving help through their Full-Service Partnership Program, run in partnership with FCNI. In FSP, Easton would receive mental health support for his transition home and his mental health journey moving forward.
FSP would be able to support Easton in very individualized and critical ways. As part of the Mental Health Services Act, FSP is designed to provide highly skilled and trained case management, in-home Rehabilitation Specialists (RS), and a Youth and/or a Family Partner to help children and youth in need of intensive one-on-one services. These workers function as part of the youth’s larger therapeutic team focused on supporting the youth where they are and helping them get to where they want to go. This team also ensures that all needs of the youth are met--from their basic needs such as taking care of their physical bodies to learning critical life skills like healthy coping and communication skills in order to address their mental wellbeing.
Easton and his mom met his FSP case manager, Bryce, on Easton’s last day in the hospital. The three discussed Easton’s medication and therapy options, and how FSP could help Easton’s mom strengthen her parenting strategies. When Easton was released, the team made sure there was a good safety plan in place, and Easton had some basic coping skills to try when thoughts of hurting himself or others arose. The family was also assured that 24/7 help was available to them should anyone feel unsafe or any conflicts occurred. While Easton and his mom were cautious of one another--memories of their recent fight still very vivid--they were both committed to getting stronger and staying together.
Prior to FSP, therapy was not something Easton engaged in well. And after FSP got underway, the global crisis of Covid-19 hit which quickly derailed any in-person therapy options. But Easton was still able to work with his Youth Partner, Paul, another member of his FSP team. Paul works for FCNI and is a professionally trained individual who has experienced and overcome similar life obstacles as Easton. When Easton and Paul first spoke on the phone, they hit it off right away. But even though Easton connected with Paul, he eventually grew tired of only talking on the phone, so he started avoiding Paul’s calls. As soon as it was safe to do so, Paul utilized protective gear to meet with Easton face-to-face. Getting to hang out, albeit while wearing masks and sitting far apart, proved much better for Easton in the long run. He started to engage with Paul more openly and honestly, and he welcomed Paul’s help in learning new coping and social skills.
With Paul’s encouragement, Easton also agreed to try therapy again. The team waited to start until the sessions could be in-person using safety measures. And under Paul’s directive, Easton’s new therapist moved very slowly with him, taking time to build a good rapport and trust. After his therapy sessions, Easton and Paul talked through things that came up for Easton, and Paul provided him additional support, modeling positive skills while also being a reliable shoulder on which Easton could safely lean.
Easton and his family are now enjoying a more stable and secure homelife. Not only did Easton receive the support he needed, but his mom also connected well with her FSP Family Partner. She learned new parenting and life skills, which helped her feel more equipped to safely support Easton, ultimately helping their relationship heal and grow. Easton now knows that his mom is his ally, and that she’ll do whatever is in her power to keep him safe. And with stronger skills, Easton and his family are looking forward to reducing their support services soon--ready to tackle the next steps in their ongoing journey towards self-sufficiency.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you are not alone. Please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).