Alyssa is top of the class at school, enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to the future. She dreams of visiting New York to see where her favourite films are set. But it wasn’t always like this. Alyssa was abused by her dad, bullied at school. She felt like she was drowning and didn't deserve help. When she finally reached out, things changed.
Abused and bullied
'Just a normal teenager'
Alyssa is nearly 16. She lives in a small town with her mum, stepdad and two siblings. She loves debating politics and considers her voice her greatest strength.
But not so long ago, Alyssa felt like she was ‘drowning’. When she was younger, she watched her dad hit her mum. Other times he would hit her too.
They moved away. Alyssa was excited to leave it all behind. However, soon she was being bullied by the girls in her new school. She kept all her emotions bottled up. She felt like no one would understand.
‘I used to have really bad outbursts. People would say, “oh she’s just a normal teenage girl” or “she’s just too hormonal”, but, secretly, I didn’t know how to cope with myself and I didn’t know my own body.’
Opening up at last
It all got too much. Alyssa knew she needed help. But she didn’t know who to turn to. Eventually, she told her mum everything. It was here that things started to look up.
‘The first person who listened to me was my mother. When she just believed me completely, it felt like a massive weight off my shoulders.’
I was still fighting my own battle, but I wasn’t alone
Therapy and its benefits
Alyssa was referred to Kerry, one of our therapists. They meet each week and talk through her thoughts and feelings. Having someone she can trust has made all the difference.
‘I didn’t believe therapy would help... then as the sessions went on, I was noticing a big change. Whether it was that I could look at myself in the mirror again or talk to a new person.’
‘It brought back the Alyssa that I knew, that I love and that everyone else around me seems to love.’
Focusing the mind
Kerry helped her realise how important it is to put her own well-being first. Alyssa has learnt to control her anxiety through self-care and comfort toys.
'I now sleep with a teddy every night that helps put me to sleep. It’s soft because I’m more of a touchy person, so textures are a big thing for me.’
‘I’ve got books that I can write in, like diaries to just record how I feel, and then I can read back on it if I want to. I don’t even have to show anyone, it just gives me that little comfort.’
Dreaming of New York
Today, Alyssa walks down the corridor at school with confidence. She can chat to her friends. She is calm when meeting new people. She has hopes and dreams. If she feels herself getting anxious or panicked, she knows what to do.
‘I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect for anyone. I don’t need to change the way I am because someone else doesn’t like it.’
‘I want to go to New York really badly. All my favourite films have been filmed there so it would be a massive dream of mine... I know I can do it. I just need to push myself.’
I can fully say that I am better now I can fully say that I am better now
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This is a true story but names and identifying details have been changed to protect the young person and the photographs are posed by a model across a video call.