Much has been said about safe homes for survivors of child sexual trafficking. Needing to be a safe and secure sanctuaries while providing holistic care. In these safe homes, the survivors are assured adequate physical provision, education, health care, counseling and psychotherapy, provision for release of potentials, and social services.
The Love146 Round Home in the Philippines, like other safe homes, has always sought to respond to the critical and fundamental needs of survivors in its care.
The Love146 model and philosophy of survivor care are based on insights into the survivor’s traumatized lives. As we continue with our basic approach of being attuned to the unfolding experience of the survivors, additional elements in the biopsychosocial model of survivor care are emerging and showing the way toward more profound recovery.
Lets start with the physical surroundings of the safe home, which can have a profound impact on recovery.
Many of the girls initially have disruptive thoughts about the past and so one girl would talk to an imagined man, trying to ward him off. Another girl would suddenly stop in the middle of what she’s doing and stare into nothingness, depressed over what happened in a certain room. And another girl would just suddenly have a change of mood, remembering an attack long ago.
One of the ways we deal with these situations is to have an exercise in awareness of the here and now. Not just the present but the very present. Which is the here, and the now.
I ask one girl, “What do you see?”
And the girl said, “I seem to see a man, coming towards me.”
I said, “No, that is not what you see. Right here, right now. What do you see?”
She said “Oh, I see you, I see the other girls. I see the trees.”
I said, “Very good. What do you hear?”
She said, “Sometimes I hear the hurting words of people blaming me for what happened.”
I said, “No, that is not what you hear. Right now. Here. What you hear are my voice, the wind, the cricket. You are here right now, not in that room. See in yourself, in that room, being attacked by someone in one way or another, is not the reality. The only reality is here, now. It’s a shame not to pay attention to the reality. Are you unsafe right now?”
She said, “No.”
“Are you being attacked right now?”
She said, “No.”
“What do you have right now?”
She said, “I have peace.”
“Stay with that reality. Stay with that feeling of having peace. That is your reality. It is a waste to let that feeling of having peace pass without savoring it to the fullest just because your mind is hooked up on something that is not even here. Look, what else is happening here?”
And she said, “The branches of the trees are swaying, the grass is just there, the cats are walking.”
And I said, “Stay with all of that reality. It’s a shame not to pay attention to all that is going on because your mind is on some imagination and not the reality. Take yourself away from that room. You’ve kept her there too long. Let yourself, your entire self, body and mind, be here to see and hear and feel what is real.”
Now this type of session, when conducted inside a conventional therapy room would point to the reality of the walls, the curtains, the air conditioner, perhaps the inanimate dolls. For the Round Home girls, however, there are so many pleasant and beautiful stimuli to fill their awareness of the here and now. The gentle breeze on their faces, the sun rising and setting, the clouds changing form, insects crawling, leaves quivering and falling. So much vibrant materials, so much thriving, fading away and renewing of life.
The therapy works best when there is so much vibrant material in the environment to fill one’s consciousness of the here and now, leaving no room for anything else, certainly not the past.