Star was referred to us after she was Baker Acted for she threatened suicide. She has a history of significant instability in the home. Her father was an alcoholic who left the family a few years ago and has had very little contact with the children; her mother is seriously mentally ill and has been verbally abusive to Star since childhood—to the point that she has engaged in cutting and suicide attempts. When we began working with the family, we witnessed the pain inflicted on Star by her mother—a constant barrage of insults and excessive punishment for small or perceived infractions. Despite all this, Star has no history of behavioral issues at school and has kept maintained a high GPA, and she has no history of legal issues. During the time she has been with us, the interaction with her mother escalated to point that Star informed the therapist that she was going to Baker Act herself because she knew she would hurt herself otherwise. Her mother told her to leave, so the therapist arranged for her to go to a shelter for the night. Star was able to contact her father, who provided transportation. She did not qualify, so her father took her for the night. One night turned into to, and as of today, Star has lived with him for 3 months. Despite the history of little contact with her father and his current issues—including employment, no transportation, and sleeping on a friend’s couch, he offered her the option of staying with him, but making it clear that she would have to be patient while he worked on improving their circumstances. During the first days, as he worked on finding a job and housing while keeping her in school and on track, Star not only was patient, but was very helpful and continued to go to school regularly and keep her grades up. She continued to suffer abuse from her mother—who called her and texted her with insults and threats to take away opportunities offered by the school to attend a leadership conference. She refused to allow Star to see her sisters and refused to allow her to pick up any of her personal belongings. In short, Star was excommunicated with only the clothes on her back. In fact, the therapist reported that when she visited the family a few days later, the mother was giving her belongings to her sisters. The mother constantly called the school, reporting that the father was neglecting Star, which was unfounded. The mother attempted to have Star kicked out of a program that was providing case management assistance to Star and her father to help them stabilize. She specifically told the therapist that she got pleasure out of getting back at people—including her daughter.
Despite effectively losing her family, Star continued to help her father by starting an after-school job and obtaining sponsors to help her fund the cost of the leadership conference. She continued to go to school and keep her grades up, and she happily dealt with living in a shelter and surviving with only a few items of clothing and no personal items, other than the bare necessities. In short, she stepped up to the plate because she wanted things to work with her father. In fact, she has steadily become more confident and happy as the weeks have gone on. She claims that she has not felt good about herself ever—until the past few weeks. Recently she got her report card: 3 As and 2 Bs, despite the complete upheaval of her life. She has also earned enough money to go to the leadership conference.
Star continues to be a joy to work with and watch as she blooms. Her father says she has never done or said anything self-centered since she came to live with him; she has been respectful, helpful, and encouraging to him. They agree that they feel like “a team.”