Child Sexual Abuse
Elsa, 12 years old, came to the Journey After Child Abuse Team after she had been sexually abused by young man who was a friend of the family.
Read Elsa’s story below.
What difficulties was Elsa having?
Elsa was very unhappy at home and at school. She was finding it very hard to get to sleep at night and then she had nightmares when she did get to sleep. When she woke up after a bad night she was often bad tempered in the morning and she argued a lot with her parents.
Elsa worried about lots of different things. Elsa found it hard to concentrate in school and was often so unhappy she had to leave class.
Sometimes she felt so bad she wanted to die.
What did Elsa do to feel better?
Elsa came to JACAT meetings with her Mum and they agreed that what they wanted was for her Mum to leave for part of every meeting and come in for a bit at the end of the meeting.
Her therapist explained a lot about scary memories and how they are stored in the brain and why this makes them pop up when you are not expecting them. This was why Elsa was feeling so bad all the time.
What did the therapist do?
Elsa wasn’t sure about everything she was asked to do, like learn to relax, but agreed to give it a try and was surprised how helpful she found it.
When she was ready, Elsa very bravely decided not to push the memory away any more but to try and understand it better by explaining what had happened and how it had made her feel. She didn’t much like this bit.
Afterwards she said, “Seeing [my therapist] each week helped me, although at first I was worried about going to see her. I got more comfortable as we went along. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to talk about what happened but it was hard.”
What did Elsa’s mum do?
Elsa’s Mum came to JACAT’s group for mothers of children who have been sexually abused which she found very helpful and supportive.
How is Elsa now?
After doing all this work (which took about four months of weekly meetings) Elsa wasn’t feeling scared any more, she did not have any nightmares, and the memory didn’t pop up when she was meant to be doing other things (like playing or being at school).
She was sometimes still bad tempered but she and Mum both thought that sometimes everyone can get a bit cross!
Elsa no longer wanted to die and was enjoying life.
Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW
t: 0330 0245 321