The following operational definitions are working definitions and examples of child abuse, neglect, and in danger of abuse.

  • For the purposes of these operational definitions, the term child refers to any person under 18 years of age or any person under 21 years of age who is a DCF client.
  • A person responsible for a child’s care includes the child’s parent, guardian, foster parent, an employee of a public or private residential home, agency or institution or other person legally responsible under State law for the child’s welfare in a residential setting; or any staff person providing out-of-home care, including center-based child day care, family day care, or group day care.
  • A caretaker is an individual in whose care a biological or adoptive parent or legal guardian has left a child on an extended basis and who exercises parental authority in the capacity of a guardian.
  • The phrase perpetrator given access to the child by the person responsible for the child’s care refers to those circumstances when the person responsible for the child’s care uses poor judgment in entrusting the child to another individual who then causes injury to the child.


  • is a non-accidental injury to a child which, regardless of motive, is inflicted or allowed to be inflicted by the person responsible for the child’s care
  • includes:
    • any injury which is at variance with the history given
    • maltreatment such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment.


Description/Examples: Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any physical injury inflicted other than by accidental means, any injury at variance with the history given of them, or a child’s condition which is the result of maltreatment such as malnutrition, deprivation of necessities or cruel punishment. Examples of injuries which may result from physical abuse include:

  • head injuries
  • bruises, cuts, or lacerations
  • internal injuries
  • burns, scalds
  • reddening or blistering of the tissue through application of heat by fire, chemical substances, cigarettes, matches, electricity, scalding water, friction, etc.
  • injuries to bone, muscle, cartilage, ligaments fractures, dislocations, sprains, strains, displacements, hematomas, etc.
  • death

Description/Examples: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation
Sexual Abuse is any incident of sexual contact involving a child that is inflicted or allowed to be inflicted by the person responsible for the child’s care.

Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • rape
  • intercourse
  • sodomy
  • fondling
  • oral sex
  • incest
  • sexual penetration: digital, penile, or foreign objects.
  • Sexual exploitation of a child includes permitting, allowing, coercing or forcing a child to:
    • participate in pornography
    • engage in sexual behavior.

Description/Examples: Emotional Abuse or Maltreatment
Emotional abuse or maltreatment is the result of cruel or unconscionable acts and/or statements made, threatened to be made, or allowed to be made by the person responsible for the child’s care that have a direct effect on the child.

The observable and substantial impairment of the child’s psychological, cognitive, emotional and/or social well-being and functioning must be related to the behavior of the person responsible for the child’s care.

Emotional abuse or maltreatment may result from:

  • repeated negative acts or statements directed at the child
  • exposure to repeated violent, brutal, or intimidating acts or statements among members of the household
  • cruel or unusual actions used in the attempt to gain submission, enforce maximum control, or to modify the child’s behavior
  • rejection of the child.


Neglect is the failure, whether intentional or not, of the person responsible for the child’s care to provide and maintain adequate food, clothing, medical care, supervision, and/or education.
A child may be found neglected who:

  • has been abandoned
  • is being denied proper care and attention physically, educationally, emotionally, or morally
  • is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to his well-being
  • is being abused.


Description/Examples: Physical Neglect
The following are examples of physical neglect:

  • the failure to provide adequate food, shelter, and clothing appropriate to the climatic and environmental conditions
  • the failure to provide, whether intentional or otherwise, supervision or a reliable person(s) to provide child care
  • leaving a child alone for an excessive period of time given the child’s age and cognitive abilities
  • holding the child responsible for the care of siblings or others where beyond the child’s ability
  • the person responsible for the child’s care displays erratic or impaired behavior
  • the person responsible for the child’s care is unable to consistently perform the minimum of child-caring tasks
  • death.

Description/Examples: Medical Neglect

Medical neglect is:

  • the refusal or failure on the part of the person responsible for the child’s care to seek, obtain, and/or maintain those services for necessary medical, dental, or mental health care
  • withholding medically indicated treatment from disabled infants with life-threatening conditions.

Note: Failure to provide the child with immunizations or routine well child care in and of itself does not constitute medical neglect.

Description/Examples: Educational Neglect

Educational neglect occurs when, by reason of the actions or inaction on the part of the person responsible for the child’s care, a child age seven (7) years old through fifteen (15) years old either:

  • is not registered in school; or
  • is not allowed to attend school.

Description/Examples: Emotional and Moral Neglect

Emotional and Moral Neglect is the denial of proper care and attention to  the child, emotionally and/or morally, by the person responsible for the child’s care that may result in the child’s maladaptive functioning.

Harmful behaviors by the person responsible include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • encouraging the child to steal or engage in other illegal activities
  • encouraging the child to use drugs and/or alcohol
  • recognizing the child’s need but failing to provide the child with emotional nurturance
  • having inappropriate expectations of the child given the child’s developmental level.

Note: For court intervention regarding emotional neglect, a statement from a mental health provider documenting the condition is required.

Circumstances Injurious

Description/Examples: In Danger of Abuse

In danger of abuse includes:

  • actions or statements conveying threats of physical or mental injury
  • a real threat to the child’s well-being as perceived by the child
  • the person responsible for the child’s care exposing the child to dangerous and/or violent situations.

Description/Examples: High Risk Newborns

Newborn children will be considered to be at risk because of a combination of both their own special needs and their mother’s condition or behavior.

Indicators of special needs newborns include, but are not limited to:

  • a positive urine or meconium toxicology for drugs
  • a positive test for HIV virus
  • a serious medical problem.

Indicators in the mother’s condition or behavior include, but are not limited to:

  • substance abuse
  • intellectual limitations which may impair the mother’s ability to nurture or physically care for the child
  • major psychiatric illness
  • young age, causing inability to care for self or newborn.

Source: information is taken from Department of children and Families:


How do you keep a 1-year-old from heading toward the VCR? What should you do when your
preschooler throws a fit? How can you get your adolescent to respect your authority? Find out here how to vary your approach to discipline to best fit your family.

Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to be consistent in disciplining your child. If you don’t stick to the rules and consequences that you set up, your child isn’t likely to either.

Ages 0 to 2

Knowing that babies and toddlers are naturally curious, it’s a good idea to eliminate any temptations for your young child to act out. Keep your young child’s environment relatively free of no-no’s – items such as VCRs, stereos, jewelry, and especially cleaning supplies and medications should be kept well out of his reach.

When your crawling baby or roving toddler heads toward an unacceptable or dangerous play object, calmly say, “No,” and redirect your child by either removing him or her from the area or engaging your child’s attention with an appropriate activity.

Timeouts can be effective discipline for toddlers. A child who has been hitting, biting, or throwing
food, for example, should be told why that behavior is unacceptable and taken to a designated
timeout area – a kitchen chair or bottom stair – for a minute or two to calm down (longer timeouts are not effective for toddlers).

It’s important to not spank, hit, or slap a child of any age. Babies and toddlers are especially unlikely to be able to make any connection between their behavior and physical punishment. They will only feel the pain of the hit.

And don’t forget, kids learn by watching adults, particularly their parents. Make sure your behavior is role-model material. You will make a much stronger impact on your child if he sees you putting your belongings away, too, rather than if you just tell him or her to pick up the toys while you leave your stuff strewn across the kitchen counter.

Ages 3 to 5

As your child grows and can begin to understand the connection between actions and consequences, make sure you begin to communicate the rules of your family’s home. It’s important to explain to kids what you expect of them before you punish them for a certain behavior. For instance, the first time your 3-year-old uses crayons to decorate the living room wall, you should discuss why that is not allowed and what will happen if your child does this again. Explain to your child that he or she will have to help clean the wall and will not be able to use the crayons for the rest of the afternoon. If your child draws on the walls again a few days later, it’s a good idea to remind your child that crayons are for paper only and then enforce the consequences.

The earlier parents can set up this kind of “I set the rules and you’re expected to listen or accept the consequences,” the better for everyone. Although it’s sometimes easier for parents to ignore
occasional bad behavior or fail to follow through on some threatened punishment, this risks setting a bad precedent. Consistency is the key to effective discipline. It’s important for parents to decide together what the rules are and then be consistent in upholding them.

At the same time you become clear on what behaviors will be punished, don’t forget to reward good behaviors. And don’t underestimate the positive effect that your praise can have on your
child. Discipline is not just about punishment. Parents need to remember to recognize good behavior.

For example, you could say, “I’m proud of you for sharing your toys at playgroup.” This is usually
more effective than punishing a child for the opposite behavior – not sharing. And be specific when praising your child; don’t just say, “Good job!”

If your child is displaying an unacceptable behavior that just won’t go away no matter what you do, consider setting up a chart system. Put up a chart with a box for each day of the week on the refrigerator and decide how many chances you’ll give your child to display the unacceptable behavior before some punishment kicks in or how long the proper behavior must be displayed before it is rewarded. Then simply keep track by monitoring on a daily basis. This will give your child (and you) a concrete look at how he or she doing. Once this begins to work, don’t forget to praise your child for learning to control misbehavior (see bottom of article for additional information on controlling misbehavior) and especially for overcoming any stubborn problem.

Timeouts also can work well for children at this stage. Establish a suitable timeout place that is free of distractions and will force your child to think about how he or she has behaved. Remember, getting sent to your room may have meant something in the days before computers, TVs, and video games were stored there. Don’t forget to consider the length of time that will best suit your child. Experts say 1 minute for each year of age is a good rule of thumb to follow; others recommend using the timeout until the child is calmed down (to teach self-regulation).

It’s important to tell your child what the right thing to do is, not just to tell your child what not to do. For example, instead of telling your child: “Don’t jump on the couch,” you may want to say: “Please sit on the furniture and put your feet on the floor.”

Ages 6 to 8

Timeouts and consequences are also effective discipline strategies with this age group.

Again, consistency is crucial, as is following through. Make good on any promises of discipline or else you will risk undermining your authority. Kids have to believe that you mean what you say. This is not to say you can’t give second chances or allow your child a certain margin of error, but for the most part, you should follow through with what you say.

Be careful not to make unrealistic threats of punishment (“Slam that door and you’ll never watch TV again!”) in anger, since not following through could weaken all your threats. If you threaten to turn the car around and go home if the squabbling in the backseat doesn’t stop, make sure you do exactly that. The lost day at the beach is much less valuable than the credibility you’ll gain with your kids.

Huge punishments may take away your power as a parent. If you ground your son or daughter for a month, your child may not feel motivated to change his or her behavior because everything has already been taken away.

Ages 9 to 12

Kids in this age group – just as with all ages – can be disciplined with natural consequences. As they mature and request more independence and responsibility, teaching them to deal with the
consequences of their behavior is an effective and appropriate method of discipline.

For example, if your fifth grader has not done his or her homework before bedtime, should you make him or her stay up or help him finish? Probably not, since you’ll be missing an opportunity to teach your child something about life. If he or she doesn’t do homework earlier, your child will go to school without it the next day and suffer the resulting bad grade.

It’s natural for you to want to rescue your child from any mistakes, but in the long run you’ll be doing your child more of a favor if you let him or her fail sometimes. Your child will see what behaving improperly can mean, and will probably not make those mistakes again. However, if your child does not seem to be learning from natural consequences, you should set up your own consequences to help him modify his behavior more effectively.

Ages 13 and Up

By now you’ve laid the groundwork. Your child knows what’s expected of him or her and knows that you mean what you say about the consequences of bad behavior. Don’t let down your guard now – discipline is just as important for teens as it is for younger children. Just like the 4-year-old who needs you to set a bedtime and stick to it, no matter how much he or she whines, your teen needs to know boundaries, too.

Make sure to set up rules regarding homework, visits by friends, curfews, and dating and discuss
them beforehand with your teenager so there will be no misunderstandings. Your teen, although he or she will probably complain from time to time, will realize that you are in control. Believe it or not, teens still want and need you to set limits and enforce order in their lives, even as you grant them greater freedom and responsibility.

When your teen does break a rule, taking away privileges may seem to be the best plan of action.
While it’s fine to take away the car for a week, for example, be sure to discuss with your child why coming home an hour past curfew is unacceptable and worrisome.

It’s also important to give a teenager some control over life. Not only will this limit the number of
power struggles you may have, it will help your teen to respect the decisions you must make for him or her. With a younger teen, you could allow him or her to make his or her own decisions concerning school clothes, hair styles, or even the condition of his or her room. As your teen gets older, that realm of control might be extended to include an occasional relaxed curfew.

It’s also important to focus on the positives. For example, have your child earn a later curfew by
demonstrating positive behavior, rather than giving your teen an earlier curfew as punishment for
irresponsible behavior.

A Word About Spanking

There is perhaps no more controversial form of discipline than spanking. Here are some reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to avoid spanking:

  • Spanking teaches children that it’s OK to hit when they’re angry.
  • Spanking can physically harm children.
  • Rather than teaching children how to change their behavior, spanking makes them fearful of
    their parents and teaches them merely to avoid getting caught.
  • In the case of children who are looking for attention by acting out, spanking may inadvertently “reward” children by giving them attention – negative attention is better than no attention at all.

Controlling Misbehavior
The tantrums and outbursts of a child who has no self-control can rile even the most patient of
parents.  Whether you’re in the middle of a crowded grocery store, at a holiday dinner with extended family, or even at home, these fits can be extremely frustrating. But they may be a little easier to handle if your child learns a sense of self-control, how to make choices about how to respond to a situation, instead of just relying on impulses.

By exercising self-control, your child can learn to make appropriate decisions and respond to stressful situations in ways that will be more likely to have positive outcomes.

For example, if you tell your child that you are not going to serve ice cream until after dinner, your child may cry, plead, or even scream in the hopes that you will give in. If your child has a sense of self-control, he or she might understand that a temper tantrum may cause you to take away the ice cream for good. And your child may be more willing to wait patiently for ice cream after dinner. How Can You Help Your Child Learn Self-Control?

Here are a few suggestions on how you can help your child learn to control his or her behavior:

  • birth to age 2: Infants and toddlers frequently get frustrated because there’s a large gap
    between the things they want to do and what they are actually able to do. They often respond to those frustrations with temper tantrums. You may be able to prevent your child from having an outburst by distracting him or her with toys or other activities. By the time your child is 2 years old, you may want to use a brief time-out (when your child is taken to a designated timeout area – a kitchen chair or bottom stair – for a minute or 2 to calm down) to show that there are consequences for outbursts. Time-outs can also teach your child that it’s best to take some time alone in the face of frustration, instead of throwing a temper tantrum.
  • ages 3 to 5: At this stage, you may want to continue to use time-outs. But rather than sticking to a specific time limit, it’s a good idea to end time-outs as soon as your child has calmed down. This can be an effective way to encourage your child to improve his or her sense of self-control.  It’s also a good idea to praise your child for not losing control in situations that are frustrating or difficult.
  • ages 6 to 9: As your child enters school, he or she will likely be able to understand the idea of consequences and that he or she can choose good or bad behavior. It may help your child to imagine a stop sign that he or she needs to obey and think about a situation before
    responding. You may want to encourage your child to walk away from a frustrating situation for a few minutes to cool off instead of having an outburst.
  • ages 10 to 12: Older children are typically able to better understand their feelings. Encourage your child to think about the situation that is causing him or her to lose control and then analyze it. You may want to explain to your child that sometimes the situations that are upsetting at first don’t end up being as awful as they first seem. You may want to urge your child to take some time to think before responding to a situation.
  • ages 13 to 17: At this point, your child should be able to control most of his or her actions. But you may need to remind your teen to think about long-term consequences of his or her actions.  Continue to urge your teen to take time to evaluate upsetting situations before responding to them. Also encourage your child to talk through troubling situations rather than losing control, slamming doors, or yelling. At this point you may need to discipline your child by taking away certain privileges, for example, to reinforce the message that self-control is an important skill.

What to Do When Your Child Is Out of Control

It’s important to set a good example for your child by demonstrating healthy ways to react to stressful situations. As difficult as it may be, it’s a good idea to resist the urge to yell when you are disciplining your child. Instead, try to be firm and matter of fact. If your child is losing his or her temper, instead of losing yours, too, calmly let your child know that yelling, throwing a tantrum, and slamming doors is unacceptable behavior, and it has consequences. Calmly explain what those consequences are.

If your child has an occasional temper tantrum or outburst, in many cases, it’s a good idea to show your child that a tantrum is not an effective method to get what he or she wants. For example, if your child gets upset at the grocery store after you’ve explained why you are not buying any candy, if you don’t give in to it, you have demonstrated that a tantrum is unacceptable behavior, and it doesn’t work.

If your child frequently loses control and is continually argumentative, antisocial, or impulsive or if
tantrums last for more than 10 minutes on a regular basis, you may want to talk to your child’s doctor.

For school-age children, you may want to also talk to the doctor if the tantrums are accompanied by the following behaviors:

  • restlessness
  • impulsiveness
  • defiance
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • low self-esteem
  • declining performance in school

You might also consider talking to your child’s teachers about classroom settings and appropriate
behavioral expectations for your child. Also, look at your own actions to see if you are managing
stressful situations as well as you can. If not, you might want to ask your family doctor about whether family counseling sessions may help.

Source DCF:

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.  Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:

Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.

Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

  • Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
  • Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Research also shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:

  • Steatosis, or fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Immune System:
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.  Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.



The Dangers of Smoking Cigarettes for Smokers
What’s in a Cigarette & Disease: Chemicals, Cancer and Heart Disease

The main ingredient in cigarettes is tobacco. Tobacco is a green, leafy plant that is grown in warm climates. Farmers use many chemicals to grow tobacco. They use fertilizers to make the soil rich and insecticides to kill the insects that eat the tobacco plant.

After the tobacco plants are picked, they are dried, and machines break up the leaves into small pieces. Artificial flavorings and other chemicals are added. Some chemicals are put in cigarettes to keep them burning; otherwise, they would go out.

There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes. 51 of them are known to be carcinogenic. A carcinogen is something that causes cancer. Cancer is a disease that often kills those who have it. There are many types of cancer: breast, lung, larynx, stomach, prostrate, kidney, leukemia (cancer of the blood), etc. In all kinds of cancer, the cells keep dividing and forming new, abnormal cells. These cells are not normal or healthy.

Our bodies are made up of thousands of cells. In a healthy person, new cells are made only when the body needs them. In a person with cancer, the abnormal cells destroy the normal cells, invading them like an army. If cells divide when new cells are not needed, a growth or hard mass forms. It could be small like a pea or large like a grapefruit. A cancerous growth is called a malignant tumor.

Cancer usually kills a person when it spreads to other parts of the body. Sometimes cancer cells break away from a malignant tumor and find their way into the bloodstream. They travel to another part of the body or organ like a kidney or lung. There they start multiplying and dividing and form new cancerous tumors. For example, if a woman who has a malignant tumor in her breast does not have it removed while it is small, part of the tumor might break away and go into her bloodstream. From there it may travel to her brain and give her brain cancer.

Chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke are known to cause not only cancer but also other serious health problems. Many of the chemicals are poisonous. If a person ate one pack of cigarettes, he/she would die.


Familiar Chemicals in Cigarettes
Chemical Found in:
carbon monoxide car exhaust
nicotine bug sprays
tar material to make roads
arsenic rat poison
ammonia cleaning products
hydrogen cyanide gas chamber poison
cyanide deadly poison
acetone nail polish remover
butane cigarette lighter fluid
DDT insecticides
formaldehyde to preserve dead bodies
sulfuric acid car batteries
cadmium used to recharge batteries
freon damages earth’s ozone layer
geranic acid a fragrance
methoprene a pesticide
maltitol a sweetener not permitted to be used in foods in the U.S.
Sources: Dr. Joel Dunnington, Tobacco Almanac, Revised, May 1993.

Three of the most widely known chemicals are nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is a strong poisonous drug. It is the main ingredient in insecticides or bug sprays. In its pure form, just one drop on a person’s tongue would kill him/her.

Tar is the oily material which remains after tobacco passes through the filter. When a smoker inhales, a lot of the tar sticks to and blackens the lungs.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. A smoker inhales this gas which is also found in the exhaust of a car. This gas interferes with our respiratory (breathing) and circulatory (heart, arteries, and veins) systems. When we breathe in air through our nose and mouth, the air passes down the windpipe (trachea) and bronchial tubes into the lungs. The cilia which are made up of small hairs and mucous (a sticky fluid also found in the nose) help to clean this air as it moves down and into the lungs. The cilia remove small pieces of dirt, dust, and germs.

Credit: Cancer of the Larynx, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 2/92

We each have two lungs. They are protected by the ribs and separated by the heart. In a healthy nonsmoker, the lungs are made up of soft, spongy, pinkish-gray tissue.
The lungs also have hundreds of air sacs that fill with air when we inhale or breathe in. They are elastic like rubber bands.

One of the jobs of the lungs is to take oxygen in from the air. This oxygen is carried in the blood to the heart. The heart pumps the oxygen rich blood throughout the body by arteries. Arteries are large tubes with thick, strong walls. Oxygen is used by all cells of the body to do their work.

The lungs also must get rid of carbon dioxide which is the waste product of the cells’ work. When we exhale, breathe out, we are getting rid of the carbon dioxide from the body.

When a person smokes cigarettes, the carbon monoxide in the smoke gets into his/her blood stream. This reduces the amount of oxygen going to the heart. In addition, the chemicals in cigarette smoke narrow the walls of the arteries. With less oxygen passing through the arteries, the heart must work harder. Blood pressure also goes up.

Source:  all credit is given to this site listed below as ownership of the information to educate the population

About Homelessness

So many people walk around them, averting their eyes, not sure of what to do. We feel helpless. We see their need but don’t know how we might help. Or even if what we might do would really help.

What is your first reaction to a homeless person?

  • I pretend I don’t see them!
  • I avoid them!
  • I give them money!
  • I feel compassion and want to help but don’t know what to do!

Who do you see when you think of the homeless? Do you see the face of a grizzled old man who has a drinking problem? In the past, that may have been an accurate picture. Yet more and more, the homeless look just like the rest of us.

Today’s homeless men and women may have college and graduate degrees. Others may not read past the first-grade level. There are those who are mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol. Then there are those who are dedicated Christians who have never used an addictive drug. While some people who are currently homeless have had highly skilled or productive jobs, others haven’t worked in a long while. Some are veterans of our armed forces.

You might see people who have never before been homeless. They have families and have had homes, but have just encountered one crisis too many. They may be working, but existing from paycheck to paycheck with no reserves for any kind of emergencies. They may be mothers who are just now getting up their courage to take the kids and leave their abusive husbands.

The startling fact today is the homeless are getting younger. Nine-year-old children today are homeless. Teenagers are homeless. And some of our young men and women, who are the future of our country, are homeless.

We’re here to help!

Compassion first!  We love as Jesus loves.


Do something to help. Donate at Conji, or be a volunteer.

Dealing with Trauma: Some examples of traumatic experiences that may be causing your symptoms include:

  •  physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • neglect
  • war experiences
  • outbursts of temper and rage
  • alcoholism (your own or in your family)
  • physical illnesses, surgeries, and disabilities
  • sickness in your family
  • loss of close family members and friends
  •  natural disasters
  •  Accidents

Some things that may be very traumatic to one person hardly seem to bother another person. If something bothers you a lot and it doesn’t bother someone else, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. People respond to experiences differently.

Do you feel that traumatic things that happened to you may be causing some or all of your distressing and disabling emotional symptoms? Examples of symptoms that may be caused by trauma include:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • agitation
  • irritability or rage
  • flashbacks or intrusive memories
  • feeling disconnected from the world
  • unrest in certain situations
  • being “shut down”
  • being very passive
  • feeling depressed
  • eating problems
  • needing to do certain things over and over
  • unusual fears
  • impatience
  • always having to have things a certain way
  • doing strange or risky things
  • having a hard time concentrating
  • wanting to hurt yourself
  • being unable to trust anyone
  • feeling unlikable
  • feeling unsafe
  • using harmful substances
  • keeping to yourself
  • overworking

Perhaps you have been told that you have a psychiatric or mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder or manic depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, obsessive—compulsive disorder, dissociative disorder, an eating disorder, or an anxiety disorder. The ways you can help yourself handle these symptoms and the things your health care providers suggest as treatment may be helpful whether your symptoms are caused by trauma or by a psychiatric illness.

Help From Health Care Providers, Counselors and Groups

You may decide to reach out to health care providers for assistance in relieving the effects of trauma. This is a good idea. The effects of trauma, even trauma that happened many years ago, can affect your health. You may have an illness that needs treatment. In addition, your health care provider may suggest that you take medications or certain food supplements to relieve your symptoms. Many people find that getting this kind of health care support gives them the relief and energy they need to work on other aspects of healing. To find health care providers in your community who have expertise in addressing issues related to trauma, contact your local mental health agency, hospital, or crisis service.

If you possibly can, work with a counselor or in a special program designed for people who have been traumatized. A counselor or people leading the program may refer you to a group. These groups can be very helpful. However, keep in mind that you need to decide for yourself what you are going to do, and how and when you are going to do it. You must be in charge of your recovery in every way.

Wherever you go for help, the program or treatment should include the following:

Empowerment–You must be in charge of your healing in every way to counteract the effects of the trauma where all control was taken away from you.

Validation–You need others to listen to you, to validate the importance of what happened to you, to bear witness, and to understand the role of this trauma in your life.

Connection–Trauma makes you feel very alone. As part of your healing, you need to reconnect with others. This connection may be part of your treatment.

If you feel the cause of your symptoms is related to trauma in your life, you will want to be careful about your treatment and in making decisions about other areas of your life. The following guidelines will help you decide how to help yourself feel better.

Have hope. It is important that you know that you can and will feel better. In the past you may have thought you would never feel better—that the horrible symptoms you experience would go on for the rest of your life. Many people who have experienced the same symptoms that you are experiencing are now feeling much better. They have gone on to make their lives the way they want them to be and to do the things they want to do.

Take personal responsibility. When you have been traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel as though you still don’t have any control over your life. You begin to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends, and health care professionals

will try to tell you what to do. Before you do what they suggest, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, do not do it. You can follow others advice, but be aware that you are choosing to do so. It is important that you make decisions about your own life. You are responsible for your own behavior. Being traumatized is not an acceptable excuse for behavior that hurts you or hurts others.

Talk to one or more people about what happened to you. Telling others about the trauma is an important part of healing the effects of trauma. Make sure the person or people you decide to tell are safe people, people who would not hurt you, and who understand that what happened to you is serious. They should know, or you could tell them, that describing what happened to you over and over is an important part of the healing process.

Don’t tell a person who responds with statements that invalidate your experience, like “That wasn’t so bad.” “You should just forget about it,” “Forgive and forget,” or “You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” They don’t understand. In connecting with others, avoid spending all your time talking about your traumatic experiences. Spend time listening to others and sharing positive life experiences, like going to movies or watching a ball game together. You will know when you have described your trauma enough, because you won’t feel like doing it anymore.

Develop a close relationship with another person. You may not feel close to or trust anyone. This may be a result of your traumatic experiences. Part of healing means trusting people again. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time—maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a close relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.

Things You Can Do Every Day to Help Yourself Feel Better

There are many things that happen every day that can cause you to feel ill, uncomfortable, upset, anxious, or irritated. You will want to do things to help yourself feel better as quickly as possible, without doing anything that has negative consequences, for example, drinking, committing crimes, hurting yourself, risking your life, or eating lots of junk food.

Read through the following list. Check off the ideas that appeal to you and give each of them a try when you need to help yourself feel better. Make a list of the ones you find to be most useful, along with those you have successfully used in the past, and hang the list in a prominent place—like on your refrigerator door-as a reminder at times when you need to comfort yourself. Use these techniques whenever you are having a hard time or as a special treat to yourself.

_____ Do something fun or creative, something you really enjoy, like crafts, needlework, painting, drawing, woodworking, making a sculpture, reading fiction, comics, mystery novels, or inspirational writings, doing crossword or jigsaw puzzles, playing a game, taking some photographs, going fishing, going to a movie or other community event, or gardening.

_____Get some exercise. Exercise is a great way to help yourself feel better while improving your overall stamina and health. The right exercise can even be fun.

______Write something. Writing can help you feel better. You can keep lists, record dreams, respond to questions, and explore your feelings. All ways are correct. Don’t worry about how well you write. It’s not important. It is only for you. Writing about the trauma or traumatic events also helps a lot. It allows you to safely process the emotions you are experiencing. It tells your mind that you are taking care of the situation and helps to relieve the difficult symptoms you may be experiencing. Keep your writings in a safe place where others cannot read them. Share them only with people you feel comfortable with. You may even want to write a letter to the person or people who have treated you badly, telling them how it affected you, and not send the letter.

_____Use your spiritual resources. Spiritual resources and making use of these resources varies from person to person. For some people it means praying, going to church, or reaching out to a member of the clergy. For others it is meditating or reading affirmations and other kinds of inspirational materials. It may include rituals and ceremonies—whatever feels right to you. Spiritual work does not necessarily occur within the bounds of an organized religion. Remember, you can be spiritual without being religious.

_____Do something routine. When you don’t feel well, it helps to do something “normal”—the kind of thing you do every day or often, things that are part of your routine like taking a shower, washing your hair, making yourself a sandwich, calling a friend or family member, making your bed, walking the dog, or getting gas in the car.

_____Wear something that makes you feel good. Everybody has certain clothes or jewelry that they enjoy wearing. These are the things to wear when you need to comfort yourself.

_____Get some little things done. It always helps you feel better if you accomplish something, even if it is a very small thing. Think of some easy things to do that don’t take much time. Then do them. Here are some ideas: clean out one drawer, put five pictures in a photo album, dust a book case, read a page in a favorite book, do a load of laundry, cook yourself something healthful, send someone a card.

_____Learn something new. Think about a topic that you are interested in but have never explored. Find some information on it in the library. Check it out on the Internet. Go to a class. Look at something in a new way. Read a favorite saying, poem, or piece of scripture, and see if you can find new meaning in it.

____ Do a reality check. Checking in on what is really going on rather than responding to your initial “gut reaction” can be very helpful. For instance, if you come in the house and loud music is playing, it may trigger the thinking that someone is playing the music just to annoy you. The initial reaction is to get really angry with them. That would make both of you feel awful. A reality check gives the person playing the loud music a chance to look at what is really going on. Perhaps the person playing the music thought you wouldn’t be in until later and took advantage of the opportunity to play loud music. If you would call upstairs and ask him to turn down the music so you could rest, he probably would say, “Sure!” It helps if you can stop yourself from jumping to conclusions before you check the facts.

_____ Be present in the moment. This is often referred to as mindfulness. Many of us spend so much time focusing on the future or thinking about the past that we miss out on fully experiencing what is going on in the present. Making a conscious effort to focus your attention on what you are doing right now and what is happening around you can help you feel better. Look around at nature. Feel the weather. Look at the sky when it is filled with stars.

_____Stare at something pretty or something that has special meaning for you. Stop what you are doing and take a long, close look at a flower, a leaf, a plant, the sky, a work of art, a souvenir from an adventure, a picture of a loved one, or a picture of yourself. Notice how much better you feel after doing this.

_____Play with children in your family or with a pet. Romping in the grass with a dog, petting a kitten, reading a story to a child, rocking a baby, and similar activities have a calming effect which translates into feeling better.

_____Do a relaxation exercise. There are many good books available that describe relaxation exercises. Try them to discover which ones you prefer. Practice them daily. Use them whenever you need to help yourself feel better. Relaxation tapes which feature relaxing music or nature sounds are available. Just listening for 10 minutes can help you feel better.

_____Take a warm bath. This may sound simplistic, but it helps. If you are lucky enough to have access to a Jacuzzi or hot tub, it’s even better. Warm water is relaxing and healing.

_____Expose yourself to something that smells good to you. Many people have discovered fragrances that help them feel good. Sometimes a bouquet of fragrant flowers or the smell of fresh baked bread will help you feel better.

_____Listen to music. Pay attention to your sense of hearing by pampering yourself with delightful music you really enjoy. Libraries often have records and tapes available for loan. If you enjoy music, make it an essential part of every day.

_____Make music. Making music is also a good way to help yourself feel better. Drums and other kinds of musical instruments are popular ways of relieving tension and increasing well-being. Perhaps you have an instrument that you enjoy playing, like a harmonica, kazoo, penny whistle, or guitar.

_____Sing. Singing helps. It fills your lungs with fresh air and makes you feel better. Sing to yourself. Sing at the top of your lungs. Sing when you are driving your car. Sing when you are in the shower. Sing for the fun of it. Sing along with favorite records, tapes, compact discs, or the radio. Sing the favorite songs you remember from your childhood.

Perhaps you can think of some other things you could do that would help you feel better.

The Healing Journey

Begin your healing journey by thinking about how it is you would like to feel. Write it down or tell someone else. In order to promote your own healing, you may want to work on one or several of the following issues that you know would help you to feel better.

  • Learn to know and appreciate your body. Your body is a miracle. Focus on different parts of your body and how they feel. Think about what that part of your body does for you. Go to your library and review books that teach you about your body and how it works.
  • Set boundaries and limits that feel right to you. In all relationships you have the right to define your own limits and boundaries so that you feel comfortable and safe. Say “no” to anything you don’t want. For instance, if someone calls you five times a day, you have the right to ask them to call you less often, or even not to call you at all. If someone comes to your home when you don’t want them to be there, you have the right to ask them to leave. Think about what your boundaries are. They may differ from person to person. You may enjoy it a lot when your sister comes to visit, but you may not want a visit from your brother or a cousin. You may not want anyone to call you on the phone after 10 p.m. Expect and insist that others respect your boundaries.
  • Learn to be a good advocate for yourself. Ask for what you want and deserve. Work toward getting what you want and need for yourself. If you want to get more education for yourself so you can do work that you enjoy, find out about available programs, and do what it is you need to do to meet your goal. If you want your physician to help you find the cause of physical problems, insist that he or she do so, or refer you to someone else. When you are making important decisions about your life, like getting or staying married, going back to school, or parenting a child, be sure the decision you make is really in your best interest.
  • Build your self-esteem. You are a very special and wonderful person. You deserve all the best things that life has to offer. Remind yourself of this over and over again. Go to the library and review books on building your self-esteem. Do some of the suggested activities.
  • Develop a list of activities that help you feel better (refer to the list in the section “Things you can do to help yourself feel better”). Do some of these activities every day. Spend more time doing these activities when you are feeling badly.
  • Every family develops certain patterns or ways of thinking about and doing things. Those things you learn in your family as a child will often influence you as an adult—sometimes making your life more difficult and getting in the way of meeting your personal goals. Think about the ways of thinking and doing things that guide you in your life. Ask yourself if they are patterns, and if you need to change them to make your life the way you want it to be. For example, in your family you may have been taught that you never tell anyone certain family secrets. In fact, it may be very important to share some family secrets with trusted friends or health care providers. Or you may have been taught that you must always do what certain members of your family want you to do. As an adult, it is important that you figure out for yourself what it is you want to do. In effect you can become your own loving parent.
  • Work to establish harmony with your family or the people you live with. Plan fun and interesting activities with them. Listen to them without being critical.
  • Work on learning to communicate with others so that they can easily understand what you mean. When talking with another person about your feelings, use “I” statements, like “I feel sad” or “I feel upset” rather than accusing the other person. You may want to practice good communication with a friend. Ask your friend to give you feedback on how you can be more easily understood.
  • You may have lots of negative thoughts about yourself and your life. Work on changing these negative thoughts to positive ones. The more you think positive thoughts the better you will feel. For instance, you may always think, “Nobody likes me.” When you think that thought, replace it with a thought like, “I have many friends.” If you often think that you will never feel better, replace that thought with the thought, “Every day I am feeling better and better.”
  • Develop an action plan for prevention and recovery. This is a simple plan that helps you stay

well and respond to upsetting symptoms and events in ways that will keep you feeling well.

Using the activities in the section “Things you can do to help yourself feel better,” make lists of things that will help you keep yourself well and will help you to feel better when you are not feeling well. Include lists:

  • to remind yourself of things you need to do every day – like getting a half hour of exercise and eating three healthy meals – and also those things that you may not need to do every day, but if you miss them they will cause stress in your life, for example, buying food, paying bills, or cleaning your home;
  • of events or situations that may make you feel worse if they come up, like a fight with a family member, health care provider, or social worker, getting a big bill, or loss of something important to you. Then list things to do (relax, talk to a friend, play your guitar) if these things happen so you won’t start feeling badly;
  • of early warning signs that indicate you are starting to feel worse – like always feeling tired, sleeping too much, overeating, dropping things, and losing things.
  • Then list things to do (get more rest, take some time off, arrange an appointment with your counselor, cut back on caffeine) to help yourself feel better;
  • of signs that things are getting much worse, like you are feeling very depressed, you can’t get out of bed in the morning, or you feel negative about everything.
  • Then list things to do that will help you feel better quickly (get someone to stay with you, spend extra time doing things you enjoy, contact your doctor); and
  • of information that can be used by others if you become unable to take care of yourself or keep yourself safe, such as signs that indicate you need their help, who you want to help you (give copies of this list to each of these people), the names of your doctor, counselor and pharmacist, all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, things that others can do that would help youfeel better or keep you safe, and things you do not want others to do or that might make you feel worse.

Barriers to Healing

Are there any things you are doing that are getting in the way of your healing, such as alcohol or drug abuse, being in abusive or unsupportive relationships, self-destructive behaviors such as blaming and shaming yourself, and not taking good care of yourself? Think about the possible negative consequences of these behaviors. For instance, if you get drunk, you might lose control of yourself and the situation and be taken advantage of. If you overeat, the negative consequences might be weight gain, poor body image, and poor health. You may want to work on changing these behaviors by using self-help books, working with a counselor, joining a support group, or attending a 12-step program.

Moving Forward on Your Healing Journey

If you are now about to begin working on recovering from the effects of trauma, or if you have already begun this work and are planning to continue making some changes based on what you have learned, you will need courage and persistence along the way. You may experience setbacks. From time to time you may get so discouraged that you feel like you want to give up. This happens to everyone. Notice how far you’ve come. Appreciate even a little progress. Do something nice for yourself and continue your efforts. You deserve an enjoyable life. Always keep in mind that there are many people, even famous people, who have had traumatic things happen to them. They have worked to relieve the symptoms of this trauma and have gone on to lead happy and rewarding lives. You can too.


Commonly Abused Alcohol & Illicit Drugs Chart

The following is a list of alcohol and illicit drugs that are commonly abused. The chart is based on information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and lists drug names, how they’re administered, and potentially harmful health risks.

Common Name Street Names Administered Health Risks
Alcohol Liquor, beer, wine Swallowed Increased risk of injuries, violence, fetal damage (in pregnant women); depression; neurologic deficits; hypertension; liver and heart disease; addiction; fatal overdose
Marijuana Blunt, dope, ganja, grass, herb, joint, bud, Mary Jane, pot, reefer, green, trees, smoke, sinsemilla, skunk, weed Smoked, swallowed Cough, frequent respiratory infections; possible mental health decline; addiction
Heroin Diacetylmorphine: smack, horse, brown sugar, dope, H, junk, skag, skunk, white horse, China white; cheese (with OTC cold medicine and antihistamine) Injected, smoked, snorted Constipation; endocarditis; hepatitis; HIV; addiction; respiratory arrest; fatal overdose
Opium Laudanum, paregoric: big O, black stuff, block, gum, hop Swallowed, smoked Constipation; endocarditis; hepatitis; HIV; addiction; respiratory arrest; fatal overdose
Cocaine Cocaine hydrochloride: blow, bump, C, candy, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, rock, snow, toot Snorted, smoked, injected Weight loss, insomnia; cardiac or cardiovascular complications; stroke; seizures; addiction; nasal damage from snorting
Amphetamine Biphetamine, Dexedrine: bennies, black beauties, crosses, hearts, LA turnaround, speed, truck drivers, uppers Swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected Weight loss, insomnia; cardiac or cardiovascular complications; stroke; seizures; addiction
Methamphetamine Desoxyn: meth, ice, crank, chalk, crystal, fire, glass, go fast, speed Swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected Weight loss, insomnia; cardiac or cardiovascular complications; stroke; seizures; addiction; severe dental problems
Club Drugs
MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) Ecstasy, Adam, clarity, Eve, lover’s speed, peace, uppers Swallowed, snorted, injected Sleep disturbances; depression; impaired memory; hyperthermia; addiction
Flunitrazepam** Rohypnol: forget-me pill, Mexican Valium, R2, roach, Roche, roofies, roofinol, rope, rophies Swallowed, snorted Addiction
GHB** Gamma-hydroxybutyrate: G, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid ecstasy, soap, scoop, goop, liquid X Swallowed Unconsciousness; seizures; coma
Dissociative Drugs
Ketamine Ketalar SV: cat Valium, K, Special K, vitamin K injected, snorted, smoked Anxiety; tremors; numbness; memory loss; nausea
PCP and analogs Phencyclidine:angel dust, boat, hog, love boat, peace pill Swallowed, smoked, injected Anxiety; tremors; numbness; memory loss; nausea
Salvia divinorum Salvia, Shepherdess’s Herb, Maria Pastora, magic mint, Sally-D Chewed, swallowed, smoked Anxiety; tremors; numbness; memory loss; nausea
Dextromethorphan (DXM) Found in some cough and cold medications: Robotripping, Robo, Triple C Swallowed Anxiety; tremors; numbness; memory loss; nausea
LSD Lysergic acid diethylamide: acid, blotter, cubes, microdot yellow sunshine, blue heaven Swallowed, absorbed through mouth tissues Flashbacks, Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder
Mescaline Buttons, cactus, mesc, peyote Swallowed, smoked Flashbacks, fetal abnormalities.
Psilocybin Magic mushrooms, purple passion, shrooms, little smoke Swallowed Flashbacks, risk of psychiatric illness, impaired memory, tolerance.


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Dealing with teen pregnancy

When a teenager finds out they are pregnant, and will soon have a baby, it becomes a very difficult situation for all parties involved. It is important for everyone to realize that the pregnancy can be okay, as long as the decisions made are well thought out. The best thing to do, is to seek out all possible options, and then discuss them with someone who can help you. Whether you are about to become a teen parent, or you have a teenager who is pregnant, there are valuable coping methods you can practice that will help you through this time.

Confirm the pregnancy as soon as you think you are pregnant.
 Pregnancy tests that you take at home are very accurate, but it is always best to confirm your pregnancy with a doctor. Schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN to have a test done at the doctor’s office. The doctor will also let you know how far along the pregnancy is, and what the possible options are.

Tell your parents.
 Telling your parents can be one of the hardest things about finding out you are pregnant. It may be terrifying to not know what their reaction will be when they hear the news. Don’t let this fear stop you from telling them. The sooner you let them know, the better. The best way to go about doing this it is to be direct and honest. Here is a way you can start the conversation:

Be prepared for mixed reactions.
 When you tell your parents the news, you will have to experience their fresh reactions of just finding out. If your parents have a negative reaction, remember that it will be okay. They may get angry or emotional at first, but with time, they will get better.

Build a support system.
 Tell your parents, family members, or your school’s counselor for emotional support. It can be very difficult to share this type of information, but it is important to let someone close to you know immediately. No matter what decision you make about the future of your pregnancy, you should allow someone to help you through it.