Client Success Stories
She came to Dawson Place to find safety, justice, and healing. Ivy’s story is an inspiring example of why the staff at Dawson Place continue to do the important work we do and how we work together to help victims turn hurt to hope.
I learned how to be vulnerable on a different level. Everybody in this group was a stranger at first, and now you are my friends. Having this deep connections to each other because of what we went through has been so powerful.
Teen group taught me that even when you go through the hardest thing in your life, you’re not alone. I’m so glad I met other people who understand and have been through what I have. I’m not alone.
At first, I was nervous to come to group, but now I’m sad that it’s ending. Everyone in group has taught me that I’m not alone. You don’t have to fight this battle on your own.
I learned in teen group to be proud of yourself. Even though we went through hard times, we can still be happy.
We’re so much more than victims. We’re survivors, and we have each other.
A Story of Healing, Hope, and Help
When I was first touched inappropriately I was just 8 or 9 years old. At first, my abuser was really nice to me, complimenting me and saying I was the favorite and how beautiful I was. The sexual abuse lasted about 3 years and happened when we would be at family gatherings. During this time, I couldn’t tell anyone about my life. I couldn’t talk to my mother about how I felt or what was happening. I did not have a good connection with my family members when it came to talking about my personal life. When something upset me, I just never said anything. I argued frequently with my mom and was having difficulty in school. After I disclosed the abuse to my school counselor I was referred to Dawson Place. I was pretty nervous and didn’t know how my mom was going to react.
Dawson Place helped me. I was able to share what happened. It was a nice environment to be around and the staff were nice to me. Since this experience, I am more cautious about being near other people and have a better idea of when people cross my boundaries or try to manipulate me.
About a year and a half after I disclosed my abuse, my cousin told me she had been abused as well. My cousin came to me because she knew I had already been through the whole process of disclosing the abuse. I knew to tell my counselor immediately and get her help through Dawson Place. I’m glad she came to me and was able to tell me.
Now, I have a really good connection with my family. I know I can count on them with anything. I’m doing great in school and am helping to lead the younger grades with online schooling. It is never a kid’s fault and you should tell someone immediately. There are people who will believe you and help you through it. You are not the only one going through it. You are not alone.
When Victoria immigrated to the United States, she did not speak English; she spent her days feeling alone and isolated as she began to learn English in school. While home for many families who have immigrated is a place of comfort, it was not for Victoria. She was sexually abused by her parent, all while living in a home where she had to witness domestic violence.
After working up the courage to share her abuse, she took the first step in ending her abuse and told her mom. The weight of carrying this secret was no longer solely on her shoulders.
It was at this point, her mom turned to Community Health Center that further referred them to Dawson Place. This became a light at the end of the tunnel and began her journey to healing. The pressure of being an immigrant, not speaking the language, and being sexually abuse was a heavy burden to carry. But at Dawson Place she found people who helped her go through each step of the process, reports, interviews, investigations, and therapy. She found a therapist who helped her learn to trust, which allowed her to speak about the abuse experienced, which at the time felt too difficult to talk about. It was hard to talk about what happened and feeling heard was a relief.
Healing is a continued and ongoing process, but now she has a path. She continues her education in high school where she is also in a Medical Assistant Program to someday become a pediatrician to take care of children. Not only can she now speak of her abuse, but she wants to share her experience with others who have experienced abuse, so they know they are not alone. “I think many women don’t know it happens to others and I want them to know they don’t have to keep it to themselves.”
She can find pride in herself in so many ways, through healing, through her education, and through the impact she knows she can have on the world. Empowering others to break the silence and share their story is the first step.
*Names in this story have been changed for the safety and privacy of the client*
Services that I received and used at Dawson Place were counseling, interview specialist, victim advocates, and I also met with law enforcement and prosecutors. Dawson Place was a safe and supportive place for me to be while I was working through a very disturbing time in my life. I felt validated and believed by everyone I met there.
As I mentioned, I met a lot of staff and did not know if the next person I met would judge me or even believe what I went through. Even the interview specialist was warm, and I felt comfortable telling her my story. It could have been the dogs that made me feel comfortable. I really loved them. They made a big difference in helping me feel at ease during the interview.
Throughout my time at Dawson Place, I received TF-CBT. The therapist always found ways to help get what was on my mind out and help me find ways to cope with my memories and emotions. Therapy is a big key to working through trauma and being able to move forward. From being a victim to helping me become a survivor of my story.
During the Process
Prior to my own experience, a family member had received services at Dawson Place, so I had some familiarity with the interview and therapy process. My family was supportive throughout, ensuring I attended appointments, participating in exercises with my therapist, and accepting me as I worked through my emotions. Though I sometimes dreaded appointments due to the difficult memories and emotions I had to confront, each session left me feeling a little lighter.
My victim advocate was with me throughout the whole legal process, she was wonderful and explained all the steps, kept us informed of progress, attended all of the legal proceedings with my family, and the meetings with the prosecutors.
It was difficult to come forward at first because I felt like it could have been my fault and the unknown of what would happen.
Even though this was a difficult experience for me, and I would not want any child to go through this, it has made me stronger, and I have empathy for those who are suffering around me. I want there to be more awareness about child abuse and services that are available to those who are going through it. That is why I chose to host an awareness night for Dawson Place for my Eagle Scout project in 2019.
Why are you choosing to share this with us and the community?
I think if more victims and survivors knew about Dawson Place, that it is a safe place where they are met with open arms, support, and belief, it would help them come forward. After my experience at Dawson Place, it has created a desire for me to give back and serve my community and go into Law Enforcement.
Read an Inspiring Story of Survival, Justice, and Triumph over Child Sexual Abuse.
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1509 California Street
Everett, WA 98201