young teen girl

Amanda (name changed for privacy) came into the Hibiscus Children’s Center Sexual Abuse Treatment Program (SATP) after being sexually abused by a relative.  A therapist immediately performed an assessment on Amanda and the results showed that she had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  She was experiencing nightmares every night, intrusive thoughts, emotional instability such as becoming angry very easily and crying often.  She also had low self-esteem, which is common in sexual abuse victims.

Amanda participated in a Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), which is a specialized form of treatment proven to be effective for child survivors of sexual abuse.  The therapy focuses on improving coping skills and addresses the sexual abuse by having the child write a narrative story of the abuse.  It also challenges and replaces the thoughts of self-blame or guilt that are consistent with victims of sexual abuse.  A very important component is to enhance future safety to prevent re-victimization – studies show that children who have been sexually abused once are likely to be abused again.

Amanda is a strong young lady who worked very hard to complete each of the eight modules of the special therapy program.   Her hard work and motivation to overcome the trauma she has endured as a young girl is a testament to her resilient spirit.  Amanda’s re-evaluation assessment scores showed progress in reducing the symptoms she had been experiencing and she reported that she no longer had nightmares or intrusive thoughts.  The best news … Amanda said she felt happier!  Amanda’s mother shared that the SATP assisted Amanda and her entire family with coping with the very difficult trauma of sexual abuse.  The family learned ways to be supportive of each other and Amanda demonstrated improved self-esteem which indicates that she is less likely to be re-victimized in the future.


Johnny (name changed for privacy) was eight years old when he was placed at the Hibiscus Shelter.  He struggled with outbursts, lack of control and difficult behaviors.  Due to the abuse and trauma that he had experienced in his young life, Johnny was having a very difficult time learning to control his anger and emotions.

Recently, one of the children told Johnny that another boy hit her.  Johnny felt the need to help, so he reacted by hitting the other boy.  When the staff intervened to stop the boys from fighting, Johnny punched and bit the staff members.  He then ran off and tried to hit the other young boy again.

This is the reality for abused children who have suffered at the hands of their parents and/or caregivers.  They react with uncontrolled emotions and defenses.  While it is not unusual for there to be disagreements between kids, most children are taught to have self-control and to work through arguments by talking it out and telling an adult.  As the staff continued to try to deescalate Johnny, his behavior grew more and more uncontrolled and forceful.

Johnny’s struggles are a direct result of his abuse home environment.  While these circumstances surrounding Johnny are difficult to hear, the fact that he was removed from his abusive home and placed in a safe and loving environment, the Hibiscus Shelter, is a positive result that has now led to him receiving the higher level of care that he desperately needs to help turn his life around.

Hibiscus Therapists and staff worked with Johnny every day to help him feel safe, cared for and to guide him to make better choices.  This took some time and dedication by the professional staff, but over time, Johnny began to come around and exhibit appropriate behaviors and even began to enjoy playing games and just being a child.  There have been many “Johnny’s” come through the doors of Hibiscus Children’s Center, with perseverance and the wonderful support of our community, Hibiscus continues to provide the highest level of care to help these children succeed and feel safe and loved.


teen girl

Emma (name changed for privacy) is a 17-year-old teen who lived at the Hibiscus Village. She was placed at the Village for a short period of time, then moved to a relative placement which unfortunately, did not work out.  When Emma was returned to the Village for a second time, she was discouraged, unmotivated and depressed.  She made comments like “I don’t care about my life” and “I don’t care about anything”.   Immediately, a Hibiscus Mental Health Counselor began working with Emma and addressing her issues.  Simultaneously, the Treatment Team, which includes the house parents, education liaison, Career Pathways program director and administrators, all worked together to assist Emma during this challenging time.  The staff engaged with Emma and encouraged her to participate in the programs and activities available to help motivate her to prepare for the future.  The Hibiscus Education Liaison worked closely with Emma to help her enroll in a GED Program, which she passed with flying colors!

Emma also participated in the Career Pathways Program as an intern at a local store.  As a result of the caring staff and counselors guiding Emma, and her diligent hard work, she received her GED, obtained employment, applied and received grant funds and enrolled in college to pursue a Bachelor’s degree.  Emma’s goal was to pursue a career as a Paralegal.  Despite the difficulties and challenges that Emma faced from abuse and the trauma she endured, she worked hard and committed herself to building a stronger future.  We are so proud of Emma and her accomplishments!   Thank you for helping Hibiscus Children’s Center help youth like Emma.


The Hibiscus Village in Vero Beach provides a safe haven to abused youth, ages 13-17 years, in a safe and family-like environment.  The teens receive mental health, medical and educational services while in our care.  In addition, youth participate in the Career Pathways to Independence Program, a positive youth development program that encourages academic achievement by developing life skills and job readiness training.  The youth are strongly encouraged to stay in school or receive their GED diploma.  On-site educational services along with tutoring are provided to the youth.

Jenna (name changed), a 16-year old teen, was placed at Hibiscus Children’s Center with her younger sister and lived at the Village for almost two years.  She was behind in school and struggled to overcome a personal tragedy she had recently experienced.  Through the caring staff and volunteers, along with professional mental health counseling, Jenna was able to conquer her difficulties and became very focused on her schoolwork.  The Career Pathways Program was a guide and encouragement to help Jenna move forward with her education and preparing for the future.  She worked diligently to catch up in school by taking Florida Virtual classes and she did a great job!   During this time, she also secured employment at a local restaurant.

Jenna is a great example of a youth who had to overcome tragedy and difficulties, the trauma of abuse and the instability of moving around in the foster care system.  Educational and career preparation training was a priority and resulted in Jenna not only graduating high school but applying for academic scholarships to attend college, which she received.  The Career Pathways Program and our wonderful community’s support are helping to provide youth with opportunities to strengthen and enhance their academic development and set the foundation for a bright future. All youth deserve the opportunities that Jenna received to move forward in life and grow into their fullest potential.   For more information about how you can get involved and help teens like Jenna, please visit us at HibiscusChildrensCenter.org.