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Administrative Offices

1200 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Tel: (213) 481-7464
Fax: (213) 481-7147

Children Services

Children's Clinic M-F 9am-5pm
(213) 482-9400

Services & Programs
(213) 481-4260

Family Counseling
(213) 482-9400

Adult Services

Adult Clinic M-F 8am-7:30pm
(213) 481-1347

Domestic Violence Program
(213) 481-1792

Adult Services & Programs
(213) 481-1347

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Elena: A Life Regained

Elena“Finally free!” is how Elena now describes herself. The journey to her current life was anything but easy, and began when she walked through the doors of a local WIC office a year ago. It was there that Elena met with an outreach representative from Amanecer and, for the first time, shared her fears with another person. Elena was terrified that if she admitted the depression she was experiencing following the birth of her third child, she could risk deportation and losing her children. With compassion and skill, Amanecer’s outreach representative focused on establishing trust with Elena and getting her into treatment.

First Steps

At intake, Elena presented with severe depression, suicidal ideation and vague homicidal ideation. She was filled with rage and expressed concerns that she could hurt her children, if her anger was not controlled. In addition to the depression, Elena was struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after living with domestic violence for many years.
Elena was quickly stabilized using Seeking Safety, an evidence-based program that is often used with victims of domestic violence. The program helped Elena acquire safe coping skills, learn to channel her anger and rage into constructive energy, and begin building a quality of life for herself and her children. Once stabilized, Elena enrolled her children in therapy and attended a parenting class to learn positive parenting skills and establish a nurturing relationship with her children. She found the strength to overcome the shame she felt as a domestic violence victim and asked family members for support in providing a safe home for herself and her children.
Yet, Elena’s PTSD continued to impact her life. Her intense fear and avoidance of any reminders of her abuse, kept her isolated and unemployed. Despite qualifying for a UVisa, Elena could not bring herself to meet with a lawyer to discuss her story. So much trauma remained in her life.

 

Funding for Success

A grant from Cedars-Sinai Community Benefit Program was life-changing for Elena. The grant provided funding for evidence-based therapies nationally recognized as treatments for PTSD, but not currently funded by the Department of Mental Health. Elena’s therapist began using Prolonged Exposure to treat her PTSD and depression. Within 12 weeks, Elena’s outcome measures indicated that she had fully recovered from PTSD and her depression. More importantly, Elena demonstrated the therapy’s effectiveness through her own behavior. She met with an attorney and completed the deposition required to pursue her UVisa. She has started a home-based pupusa business. She is fully participating in her son’s treatment to overcome his PTSD. And, she is a mentor for women in her church who are currently trying to escape domestic violence situations.

Without the outreach efforts funded by Cedars-Sinai, Elena would not have engaged in mental health treatment. Her therapist would have been limited to treatment options that only manage symptoms. Elena’s recovery broke the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence by allowing her to participate in her children’s recovery and teach them alternatives to violence. Finally, Elena is empowering other women in her community to seek their own recovery from the effects of depression, PTSD, and domestic violence. Elena is “finally free,” thanks to the generosity of Cedars-Sinai Community Benefit Program. Her success story is one of many. All of us at Amanecer are in awe of the determination, courage, and resilience of the many clients we are honored to serve.

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