The Case of Brenda
Brenda is a 32-year-old, single, Mexican American Female. Brenda has two children, Brandon (14) and Anna (13). Brenda was raised in a traditional Mexican household in Los Angeles area with both parents, Jessica (mother) and Jesus (father), as well as two siblings, Carla (36) and Carlos (40) who left the home as soon as they turned 18-years-old. Brenda’s father has always maintained a stable income has a contractor; however, he would come home every night and consume a 12 pack of beer. On good nights Jesus would just fall asleep but more than often Jesus will become belligerent with Jessica. Jessica was a stay-at-home mom that experience verbal and emotional abuse from her husband. Brenda was a witness to the abuse. At the age of 18-years-old, Brenda moved in with her boyfriend (Jose) to get away from her parents. During this time, Brenda worked two jobs. She was a cashier at the dollar store and worked as dispatcher for a meat delivery service. Brenda and Jose lived in a small house. Brenda thinks of it more as cozy studio, where the kitchen and bathroom were all in one area. Brenda disclosed that everything started out “fine” but after 3 months of living with Jose she noticed that he would come home late and smell of alcohol. Jose has able to obtain a job as a bouncer for the local club and insisted he was trying to “get in” with the club owner for better pay. Brenda believed Jose he did not really give her any reason not to trust him. Until one night he asked her to dance for him and his friends. Brenda felt uncomfortable but complied because Jose was the only person she trusted. Brenda feels a lot of guilt and shame because it happened more than once. This went on about a year she struggled to hold on to her jobs because Jose wanted to her to stay at home. Brenda thought that maybe things were getting more serious. Brenda always had to ask for money to buy what she needed. There were times Jose accused her of keeping the money and would go buy what she needed. Brenda was made to close her bank accounts and rely strictly on Jose.
One night Jose came home intoxicated and angry he was let go from his job because the manager accused Jose of stealing 1000 dollars from the safe. Brenda thought it was time to help and tried to console Jose and ensure him she would help pay the bills. Jose became angry and broke everything in their home. Brenda recalls feeling scared and confused. Within that month Jose spent all their saving drinking and their rent was due. Brenda thought she must do something. She started to apply for jobs and got a job interview. Brenda was reluctant to tell Jose, but she needed a ride to the interview. Everything was going well until Jose pulled over and slapped her. Jose started to yell ” You think this is funny! I know what you’re trying to do”. Brenda was really confused. Jose believed that Brenda was trying to leave him. he repeatedly slapped her and threw her purse and documents out the window. Brenda was rarely allowed to leave the house and if she did Jose was right there with her.
One day Brenda felt ill, and Jose took her to the doctors. it was confirmed that Brenda was 4 weeks pregnant with her son Brandon (14). As soon as Jose heard the news, he abandoned her. It was months before she heard from him again. After Brandon was born Brenda received a phone call from Jose apologizing for the way he treated her. Brenda still really loved Jose and forgave his mistakes “We all make mistakes and deserve second chances”. This led to Brenda’s second pregnancy (daughter, Anna,13). When Jose became aware of the pregnancy, he once again abandoned her. That was the last time Brenda had contact with him. After years of the abandonment from Jose, Brenda continues to feel responsible for her children not having a father. Brenda has always been focused on providing for her children, which meant that she had to work two jobs in order to do so. She is currently working as a cashier in two different locations in order to make ends meet. Due to the lack of time spent with her children, Brenda was never really able to create an emotional bond with them. Brandon and Anna both felt abandoned by both parents, resulting in both having behavioral issues. Brandon has become a bully at school and getting poor grades. Brenda tries to support Brandon though prayer. However, when asked how she corrects his behavior, Brenda believes that her kids have gone through enough and doesn’t want to add to their stress. Brenda tries her best to be supportive by giving her kids the things they want. At times, Brenda secretly drinks when the kids are asleep, and she feels very withdrawn from society. All she does is work, sleep, and attempt to care for the home. Brenda laughs at the idea of having a social circle as she is fully devoted solely to working for her children. Brenda admits that although she struggles to pay her bills at times, she will hold off on paying some to be able to buy her son things that he wants. Brandon’s self-image is important to her, and she is willing to do anything to preserve it. Anna, who also struggles with behavioral issues, has explosive outbursts at home, attempts to throw things at Brenda and calls her names. Brenda often will just ignore the behavior than engage because she does not want to a dictator like her father and ex-boyfriend. Brenda realizes that their behaviors can be challenging but she feels this is part of their growth. Both Brandon and Anna are struggling with school. However, Brandon is currently failing 9th grade, he is getting into fights, cutting class, and has been accused of bullying other students. The school calls Brenda every time Brandon is not present for class. When Brenda asks him why he did not attend class, Brandon becomes upset and yells at her, often screaming “Mind your own business! Don’t you have to go to work or something?”. Brenda admits to feeling lots of guilt because she is aware that due to having two jobs, she is not able to provide her children with the needed attention.
Three weeks ago, Brandon told Brenda that he would be staying at his grandparent’s home. Brenda loved the idea since Brandon did not have much of a bond with them. Brenda shared that the same day, Brandon was invited to a friend’s party. However, she thought that he wanted to spend time with his grandparents instead. That night, Brandon waited until his grandmother went to sleep to take her car for a joyride with his friends and go to the party. Brandon’s grandmother, Jessica, woke up in the middle of the night to realize that neither Brandon nor her car were there. Jessica waited up until Brandon got home at 4 in the morning to confront him. Jessica shared that she does not want Brandon over anymore because she does not trust him, however, Brenda believes that her mother is overreacting, and Brandon is just being a teenage boy.
After the incident, Brenda started to have uncontrollable feelings of hopelessness. Brenda is currently seeking outpatient treatment because she is feeling overwhelmed with life and feels she is doing everything she can to be a supportive mom. Brenda does not understand why she is feeling so disconnected from herself and sometimes questions if this life is worth living. Although it is against her religion to commit suicide, Brenda feels that she is better off gone. Although religion is not her highest priority, she does identify as Christian. Brenda is open to receiving help as long as she doesn’t have to take medication.
Recommendations for treatment:
- Recommend one of these evidenced-based family interventions to treat this family.
- Discuss the theoretical orientation of the theory behind the intervention, the major tenets of the intervention and the strategy/techniques used.
- Explain why your group recommends this treatment.
Engagement and assessment:
- Describe techniques of how a social worker would engage with this family and assess the presenting issue.
- Explain any cultural factors that should be taken into account during engagement and assessment.
- Provide scholarly evidence to support techniques.