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Sofia Share Story

Feeling Safe Again

The ghost and voices constantly haunted Sofia, a survivor of incest, everywhere she went. Nothing helped. Then she came to David Lawrence Center.

No matter where she turned, 10-year-old Sofia* saw the ghost.

At home, she’d see him waving to her, beckoning, menacing. And when she didn’t see him, she heard him—the approaching footsteps, and the voices. She’d hear them at home alone, and she’d hear them in the crowded hallways at school.

“I will get you,” the voices would say, over and over.

Sofia couldn’t escape the voices, because they were based in harsh reality: Her father was molesting her.

Her older brother had seen it happen, and he told authorities at school, who in turn reported it to Department of Children & Families (DCF). When DCF started investigating, Sofia’s father ran away, and he hasn’t been heard from since.

Even with her father gone, Sofia remained haunted. She was afraid to stay home alone. She often locked herself in her closet. At school, she would sometimes start crying for no apparent reason, and hide under her desk. She had angry outbursts. Sometimes, she was so petrified, she soiled herself.

Sofia’s mother kept trying to learn what was wrong. But Sofia wouldn’t say. Her only reply: “I can’t tell you, because it’s a secret between my father and me.”

Eventually, Sofia and her mom were referred to David Lawrence Center and counselor Mariana Perez, who tried to gently coax Sofia into talking. They drew pictures, they played games, anything to build rapport. For months, Sofia wouldn’t say anything. She wouldn’t even make eye contact.

But in time, Sofia began to open up, little by little. Perez introduced Sofia to DLC’s trauma therapy program, and she began to improve. By the time she finished the program, she was her old self again.

And most importantly, the ghost and voices disappeared. Sofia felt safe again.

“Today,” says Perez, “she is living a healthy and happy life—a life that any 10-year-old child deserves to live.”

* Not her real name.

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  • David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health
    Main Campus
    6075 Bathey Lane
    Naples, FL 34116