Jessica's Story


Children who have been abused are often highly alert and sensitive to changes in their environment. They are constantly on the look out for cues that might indicate a situation about to turn dangerous.

Reading the danger signs

Jessica is four years old. She used to live in flat with her mum but she was removed when she was three. Her mum loves her, but when she got drunk – which was often – her mum would get angry and lash out at Jessica, beating and scratching her.

Even as a toddler Jessica learnt to read the danger signs; her mum would always drink from the same glass and smoke a lot, and then she would start to talk to herself, then yell. That’s when Jessica would know she had to go to her safe place.

Crying in the dark

Jessica would hide in the concrete stairwell of their building, and Mum usually didn’t chase after her. Jessica would stay there for hours, sitting on the cold concrete with nothing to do except cry. When she thought her mum was asleep, she would sneak back inside the flat, if she hadn’t been locked out.

To make matters worse, her mum made Jessica feel that the abuse was her fault.

Although she is now living in a safe environment with a foster family Jessica remained constantly anxious and alert, finding it hard to relax in normal situations.

How we helped

Jessica was four years old when she came to Act for Kids. She found it hard to trust adults, and was constantly on edge in their company. Our therapists have slowly shown her how to feel calm and regulate her anxiety, so that she is longer on high alert. Jessica now looks forward to seeing her therapist each week. She is starting to understand that it is not her fault her mum abused her. She now knows she deserves to be loved and cared for, just for being her.

The Bigger Problem



…were abused or neglected



…every 13 minutes

Under 12 Months

Most likely

…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.


Early intervention makes the world of difference

With early and appropriate support, children and young people can overcome their experiences, and go on to have happy and productive lives.

Our team of experts works with kids like Jessica every day. We have waiting lists for our critical services; thanks to your support we can help many more.

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.

How you can help