GALIA and her CHILDREN
Galia began her stay in the Mother/Child Unit of the Shabtai Levi Home about a year and a half ago. Born in the Ukraine, she was 23 years old when she arrived in the unit with her two children, Daniel age three and Anna age 2. She was sent from a town in the north of Israel after the welfare team there assessed her condition. Her own life had been cruel and despite the fact that she had neglected her own children, the welfare service workers felt that she was deserving of a chance to rehabilitate.
Galia’s own mother died while giving birth to her and she was raised by her father and sisters who blamed her for her mother’s death and rejected her. She was abused constantly.
At age 14, Galia was sold by her family to a crime organization that trafficked in women and she was forced to work as a sex slave. At the age of 18, the crime organization arranged her “Aliyah” to Israel where she was sold to a local organization that continued to use her in the sex trade. The pimp who bought her is the father of her two children and is now serving a prison term for his acts of violence against her.
Just before he went to prison, he handed Galia over to his mother who used her first as a slave in her house and then put her back to wok as a prostitute. She developed an addiction to alcohol and gave t to her children to “keep them quiet”.
Galia’s integration into the Mother/Child Unit at the Shabtai Levi Home was slow and full of problems but from the beginning, the staff was able to see encouraging signs and reasons to hope. She seemed to be constantly sad, depressed, and without expression. She was so detached that in order to communicate with her, staff had to touch her. She expressed no positive feelings towards her children and had no interest in anyone else. She felt the way to gain the children’s love was to buy them sweets and she imposed no limits on their behavior. At times, she would explode with excessive rage towards them, especially directed towards her son, Daniel.
Daniel would approach her like a baby and when he was ignored, he would lash out hitting her and then rejecting her. He would go around the building asking for presents and sweets from others, having uncontrolled temper tantrums and asking to stay in the other mothers’ rooms and have dinner with them.
Throughout this difficult period, Galia was open to therapy and t was evident that she really wanted to understand her situation. From the day of her arrival, she performed all of her concrete tasks impeccably, cooking and feeding her children, shopping and was able to take care of any health problems she or the children might have. She cleaned their clothes, joined in kindergarten activities and kept her apartment clean and tidy. She kept to her budget and earned some extra money with a cleaning job twice a week.
Galia became attached to her therapist and to the unit’s team and formed some friendships with the young caregivers at the Home. She experienced difficulties with the older caregivers whom she considered dangerous and exploitive like the older people she had known throughout her life.
This mistrust of the older caregivers led to outbursts of rage and became central to her therapy. As her therapy progressed, Galia made impressive advances in many other areas. She was able to develop relations with others, look, touch and smile. Her outbursts declined and she has gained the love and affection of all the caregivers who admire her efforts to change and are impressed with all her achievements.
Galia’s relationship with her children has also changed dramatically. She touches, hugs and speaks to them as a mother should. She has learned to set clear boundaries for them. She proudly declares that Daniel and Anna are the anchors that connect her with reality and that she wants to give them a better life than she had. Daniel and Anna have become very attached to her.
Galia’s stay in the Mother/Child Unit is about to come to an end. Those who have worked with her feel she has succeeded in becoming a real parent who wants to ensure a good future for her children. They were impressed by her ability to change, by her readiness to continue with her therapy and by her willingness to accept help to reach her goals. She has been given a temporary flat and has worked and saved in order to furnish it. Local social services will accompany her and her children into the community and assist them in their re-integration. With their help, Galia will be able to raise her children, be a better mother and realize the hope and promise of a brighter future.