Maya had the courage to break the cycle of silence. And when she did, caring community organizations were there to help her return to happiness and health. Trident United Way collaborates with five partners to address child abuse, trauma and mental health in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.
The first time Maya's dad sexually abused her, she was nine years old. The abuse continued for years as her pleas for help fell on deaf ears. Each time Maya gathered the courage to tell her mom, her dad called her a liar, and her mom took his side.
Maya endured years of sexual abuse and devastation before confiding in a trusted adult. Then things began to move quickly. The young teen and her siblings were removed from their home and placed in the care of a supportive family member. Maya was confused, depressed and angry about the sexual abuse. She also felt crushingly guilty. Maya believed she was to blame for her family not being together. Her grades declined and she began to isolate herself from family and friends.
Maya was referred to Dorchester Children’s Center (DCC), a Trident United Way funded partner,
where she began Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). During her therapy sessions, Maya learned skills for coping with the abuse and other stressors. "We start the road to success and transformed lives," explains Millicent Walker, LPC and clinical director of DCC. She learned to openly discuss her feelings and to process and challenge irrational thoughts.
She learned that it was not her fault. She learned that she was not alone.
After completing therapy, Maya says her social and familial relationships are stronger, her trauma symptoms and feelings of guilt have lessened, and her grades have improved drastically. Maya's caregiver reports a return to the happy, bubbly girl she once knew. “The services we provide help to ensure that the children and families move forward with greater family stability and better education outcomes,” says Kay Phillips, executive director of DCC. At her graduation from TF-CBT, Maya said she hopes to one day help other children overcome the trauma of sexual abuse, just as she has done through therapy. Her advice to others: don't ever be afraid to ask for help.
(Maya’s name, likeness and identifying details of her story have been changed.)