Patient Story: Amy

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Amy had a terrible secret: her mother's boyfriend was sexually abusing her. Just eight years old, the second-grader overcame her fear and told her mother—but her mom didn't believe her. That was almost worse than the abuse itself.

Amy was afraid not only for herself but for her three-year-old brother, Jimmy. Amy knew her mother had a terrible secret, too: Mom’s boyfriend was hitting her. Amy saw it happen when no one thought she was watching. At the first sign of violence, Amy hid Jimmy in a closet.

Amy carried the heavy burden of trauma. Terrified, she turned to a trusted school teacher, who contacted the Department of Children, Youth and Families. DCYF brought Amy to our Lawrence A. Aubin Sr. Child Protection Center.

“The cases we see here are gut-wrenching,” says Meagan Fitzgerald, the Aubin Center’s certified child life specialist. “But when kids are believed and supported, they have hope and better outcomes.”

Meg greets every child at the door, engaging them in therapeutic play and artwork to lessen their anxiety. She explains why they are at the center and what to expect next. Most important, she provides validation and reassurance.

“The body heals,” Meg tells children at the center. “Now let’s find a way to heal your heart.”

Amy was examined and diagnosed with sexual abuse. Her mom, confronted by her daughter’s trauma, finally said the words Amy longed to hear: “I believe you.” It was a major step forward in healing her heart.

The entire family was referred for therapy, counseling, and social services. The Aubin Center collaborates on their behalf with DCYF and other partners, and advocates for Amy through the court system. Safely reunified in a new home, the family is making a fresh start.

“Our goal is for every child who comes here to have a better future,” says Meg.