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The Long Road to a Healthier Place

Submitted by Bilingual Trauma Therapist Cristina Fausto

Sometimes the path to a child’s disclosure of abuse isn’t as straightforward as we may think. Such is the case for 14-year-old Yvette*. Initially questioned by a DCFS investigator as an outcry witness for a separate case involving a peer, Yvette disclosed that she had been and was still being sexually abused by her stepfather for almost two years. Yvette participated in a separate forensic interview which led to the offender’s arrest and detainment until his trial. 

Yvette’s Family Advocate referred her to CAC's trauma-focused therapy and provided Yvette and her mother emotional support while on the waitlist to begin services. Yvette's trauma-related symptoms included suicidal thoughts, fear of the dark and sleeping alone at night, elevated anxiety and feelings of shame and guilt for not speaking out sooner. Through therapy, Yvette learned various grounding and relaxation skills to help manage her triggers, and over time, she noticed that she could handle talking about the abuse without becoming overwhelmed.

With the help of her therapist, Yvette eventually completed a trauma narrative using sand tray play, which helped her process the sexual abuse and reframe her thoughts on herself and her future. She felt so proud of herself for this accomplishment. Her mother also shared the positive changes in Yvette’s mood and her ability to joke around with others again. In the end, Yvette noted how much her confidence had increased and that she finally believed with 100% certainty that she was not to blame for the sexual abuse. 

While Yvette participated in trauma therapy, her Advocate attended all court proceedings with her mother and helped the family navigate that lengthy process. Shortly after Yvette successfully terminated therapy, the offender pled guilty to the charges presented against him and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He will be registered as a lifetime sex offender. 

*Name changed to protect the child's identity.


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