Debbie’s story

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Debbie was in her mid-twenties living in supported accommodation in a shared house with three others. Debbie had some moderate learning difficulties and was supported by a key worker, though in general she was fairly independent on a day to day level. She was studying at a local college and also volunteered each week at a nearby animal shelter.

Debbie came to The Green House as there had been several occasions where she had been taken advantage of by friends and the people she lived with, including multiple incidents of sexual abuse. A recent assault had led to a police investigation but this had not been taken forward.

Debbie was highly traumatised and she felt frustrated that many of her friendships had ended badly after the abuse had been discovered. She blamed herself for what happened, believing that ‘it was all her fault’. Having been moved to a new home, Debbie’s key worker raised concerns that her new isolation made her even more vulnerable to future exploitation. Debbie’s self-esteem was at an all time low and she had stopped her voluntary work, wanting to stay in her new flat as much as possible.

From the start Debbie was very open in counselling and her therapist noticed how eager she was to please. Together they worked on unpacking the abuse that had happened and the hurt Debbie felt that she had ‘lost all my friends’.

As her counselling progressed, Debbie and her therapist began to explore the ways that she could look after herself and what it meant to trust someone, to give consent, and have boundaries.  Debbie was able to identify for herself what things made her feel uncomfortable in her relationships with others, including how she felt about her own body and sex.

This specialist support to understand the trauma she had experienced and work out her own values was incredibly empowering for Debbie. She understood that the abuse she had experienced was not her fault. By the end of her counselling she was more aware of how much she wanted to make others happy and had some strategies in place to remind herself of how to maintain boundaries, identify danger signals and check in with herself when she met new people. As her time at The Green House came to a conclusion, Debbie returned to the animal shelter she had been volunteering in and she became more confident in getting to know other residents at the home where she lived.

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