When we first met Susan*
Susan became a victim of sexual exploitation from the age of 15, after her parents split up and her mother began living with her boyfriend. She became withdrawn and started getting involved with the wrong crowd.
They took advantage of her emotional fragility and men pretended to look after her by sexually exploiting her. She had night terrors and a distorted sense of self and confused relationship issues with adults.
When Susan came to us
When she arrived at Cambian specialist children's residential services for victims of sexual exploitation, she presented as an extremely traumatised child with severe attachment and trust issues. After assessment, it was established that she had an attachment disorder, sexualised behaviour, high anxiety and was quickly agitated which she expressed through challenging and physically violent behaviour. It was felt that this behaviour helped her to protect herself from painful feelings of shame and powerlessness.
Susan quickly responded positively to her new home, which provided her with a safe, homely environment where she could feel secure due to the clear boundaries and stable support. Reflective and empathic support helped her to better understand and stabilise her sexualised behaviours and supported her to build her self-esteem. This process played a key role in rebuilding her trust in adults.
Susan had the opportunity to see members of the clinical team on a weekly basis. This work included both individual and group sessions looking at self-esteem, emotional regulation, healthy relationship work groups and work around child sexual exploitation.
Susan initally attended one of Cambian's DfE registered schools for children who have experienced sexual trauma, but after a year went into mainstream education.
Susan has shown amazing progress. She is better adjusted, has made friends and is happy to continue with a therapeutic programme. She is also doing well at school and has made new friends.
Susan has taken a keen interest in creative drawing and is considering her options for a further education course in fashion and design.
*Name has been changed to protect identity