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June 10, 2019 | By Joanna Dragan

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Lisa had changed. Once a successful student, academically, athletically, and socially, she no longer cared about the things that had once brought her joy. Her grades began to drop, she avoided her friends, and she quit her school’s soccer team. 

When anyone tried to approach Lisa about the dramatic change in her behaviors, she became angry and defensive. They didn’t know that Lisa had been sexually assaulted.

Lisa was only a teenager when she was assaulted by someone who was considered a family friend. Shocked and betrayed, she was afraid of retaliation by her offender. But she was also fearful that if she did tell, she would not be believed. Or, what if she was blamed for what had happened?

While holding onto this terrible secret, Lisa was filled with anxiety, anger, self-doubt, and shame. She didn’t know where to turn for help.

One day, while in her school’s guidance office, Lisa saw a brochure about the CARE Center. After two long years, she was ready to discuss what had happened. Bravely, Lisa picked up the phone and called the toll-free sexual violence hotline.

She remained anonymous at first. But with time and encouragement from SPHS representatives, she agreed to be connected with a counselor. Their weekly sessions focused on understanding and processing trauma, as well as building coping skills.

Through these supportive services, Lisa now understands that the sexual assault was not her fault, and she has taken great strides towards healing.

No longer defined by the pain of her past, Lisa is pursuing a degree in nursing and is active in her campus’ sexual violence prevention group. With a new-found confidence, she believes in herself and she looks forward to reaching the goals she has set for herself in life and recovery.