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"Now I can
sleep better"

"Now I cansleep better"

Isla's story

For Isla, the anxiety, distrust, and confusion that she experienced after she was shown explicit content by someone she trusted made life almost unbearable. She desperately needed specialist support. She needed to talk to somebody who could help her process what had happened. Olivia, one of our therapists, helped Isla to develop the skills to cope with her emotions and understand that she wasn’t to blame for what had happened.

Breaking trust

Girl looks sadly out of council estate balcony in yellow rainmac

Breaking trust

Isla’s still a child, but she’s already had to overcome challenges that no one should ever have to face. When Isla was 10, she was exposed to sexually explicit content by someone she trusted. Someone who should have taken care of her. This is a form of sexual abuse, and it made Isla feel confused, angry, and unsafe. 

“I felt like lashing out. I had a lot of distrust for people and a lot of separation anxiety with my Mum. I was worried and anxious and feeling out of control."

Anxiety from sexual abuse

Isla’s wellbeing spiralled and soon severe anxiety and distressing thoughts affected every aspect of her life. She was experiencing symptoms of post- traumatic stress disorder. For years, Isla struggled to sleep, found it hard to socialise with other people, and was terrified of being away from her mum. Normal teenage activities like sleepovers at a friend’s house felt impossible. 

“My biggest difficulty was always around bedtime. From about 2pm onwards and when it was getting towards the bedtime routine."

I'd get really anxious because I didn’t want to go to sleep.

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trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy

Reaching out

Isla’s mum, Faye, reached out to their local social services, and Isla was referred for our specialist help. When I first met Isla, the most important thing was to develop a trusting relationship with her and get to know her and her mum better. 

Olivia worked with Isla independently, as well as bringing her together with her mum, helping them to navigate difficult conversations, rebuild trust and strengthen their relationship.

Young person sits next to practitioner

Opening up about child sexual exploitation

“When I first met Olivia, I was really nervous and I didn’t talk much. But I felt so much better after meeting her."

She was warm and reassuring and I felt safe to talk..

"After more sessions I got used to talking about things. It was hard to speak about some bits, but the more I spoke about it the more it became easier. When we started talking about something new, I felt more anxious again but after you go over it more and more it helps a lot."

"Mum came to the first session and a few more later on and I was able to talk about things with her too”.

Young girl lies on couch smiling

"The relationship withmy mum is better now." "The relationship withmy mum is better now."

Child exploitation

Young girl lies in bed reading from a book with her mother

Healing together

In the past year, Faye has seen a remarkable transformation in her daughter and their relationship has grown stronger as they’ve learned how to open up to one another and have difficult conversations. Having a safe and therapeutic space in which to process their experiences, individually and together, has been essential in allowing them both to begin a path of healing.

Finding the courage to speak about their experiences has enabled Isla and Faye to move forward. Today, they’re optimistic and excited about the future. They hope that other young people and families will find the strength speak out if they’re struggling so that they can receive the support they need.

Children and exploitation

‘I'd like other children to know how much Olivia and the process has made my life better. I'd want them to try to talk to someone even if they're scared. It's really hard, but it's worth it. I’d want them to know that you can get better with understanding and support’.

I want other children to know that it does get better, and it’s going to be OK. And it’s not your fault; adults’ choices are not your fault.

I feel like everyone should be able to have help if they want it. The Children’s Society makes a big difference in loads of people’s lives, and it can really help people. I wouldn't have had the support I needed without them, and I wouldn’t have been able to be half the person I am now’

Isla looks at camera cuddling pillow on bed

Donate today

Your gift could help a child like Isla – giving them the support they need, before they reach breaking point.