Gerard was a 14-year old young man when he first came to Act for Kids in September 2020.
Years of suppressed trauma
He lives with his mother and 2 younger sisters. Gerard’s mother was in a severely abused by his father from pregnancy and throughout Gerard’s young childhood.
Gerard witnessed severe domestic and family violence at the hands of his father – the man who was supposed to love and protect him.
Diagnosing the problem
Sadly, there were never any concerns raised about Gerard’s growth and development in his early years or mention of learning difficulties at school. He had always been very hyper-vigilant, fidgety and fearful. Gerard had been seeing counsellors inconsistently for two years prior to coming to Act for Kids. This had raised concerns regarding trust in the therapeutic process and presented challenges with engagement for support.
Once he reached high school, Gerard was finding the work harder and harder to understand and keep up with his workload. He also didn’t find it enjoyable and began having trouble sleeping, waking up with nightmares every night.
Many children experience multiple forms of abuse and neglect.
However, after completing a Developmental Trauma Screening Clinic with the integrated therapy team at Act for Kids, Gerard accepted the offer to start Psychotherapy with a simple goal of wanting to work towards being less scared in his life.
Gerard had significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress. He spent a year of therapy completing 33 sessions, initially starting at our Blacktown therapy centre to begin working through his life story to make sense of his traumatic experiences and then move onto trauma specific recovery sessions.
Due to Covid-19, Gerard’s final 12 sessions were delivered via telehealth after the New South Wales went into lockdown. The stay at home orders resulted in Gerard participating in home learning for school using a Zoom platform to interact with teachers. This adjustment made engaging with learning far more challenging, especially without the social interaction with his friends as a motivator.
Fortunately, therapeutic support continued providing Gerard with much needed social interaction, as well as support to learn and practice new coping skills. Although there were struggles with telehealth, including an unstable internet connection and lack of privacy in his small home that he shared with his mother and two sisters. Gerard’s outlook was shifting, he developed coping strategies to deal with intermittent internet and accepted rescheduling when needed.
The future is looking bright
Gerard finished Psychotherapy in August 2021 showing significant positive behavioural changes and improved self-esteem.
Gerard no longer experiences nightmares and is enjoying connecting with friends. His focus has now turned to improving his school work and academic outcomes.
Although he doesn’t have a clear goal for his future he has some areas of interest that he is keen to develop further. Gerard is now more hopeful than fearful. Act for Kids is thrilled to share that a clinical review identified that Gerard no longer has symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
The Bigger Problem
…were abused or neglected
…every 13 minutes
Under 12 Months
…to be abused or neglected
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2019-20.
Abuse and neglect
The majority (54%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (22%). One in five (14%) experience physical abuse and 9% experience sexual abuse.
Abuse and neglect can impact a child’s brain development, how they feel and think about themselves, how successful they are at school, even their physical development and skills. In the long term this can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, difficulty developing and maintaining good relationships, unemployment and all sorts of social disadvantage.
How you can help
We can’t do this important work without your help. We rely heavily on donations to support our intensive therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and early support for families at risk. Your donation will help us keep our doors open and expand our services.
Read More Stories
Summa is an 8-year old girl who suffered the effects of trauma whilst she was in the womb….
Samantha was exposed to a hostile home life and extreme abuse and neglect at the early stages of life….