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Silvia’s Story

Silvia’s Story

*Trigger warning: sexual assault, substance use, and suicide attempt.*

Silvia believed that her traumas were behind her, but she learned how they can unexpectedly resurface in life. Her grandfather sexually assaulted when she was four, shattering her sense of safety and forcing her to find ways to protect herself. With nowhere to turn for support, Silvia resorted to destructive coping mechanisms to escape her pain. By the time she was 14, she was using drugs daily and stealing cough medicine, but the pain felt inescapable.

As she slipped deeper into her depression and began to skip school with friends and would drink until she blacked out. Silvia felt like she had reached a breaking point, attempting suicide, believing she didn’t want to be alive anymore.

Her turning point came unexpectedly when she found out she was pregnant at 19. On that day, she quit everything – drugs, drinking, skipping school – and has been sober ever since. “Being pregnant saved my life.”

Years later, Silvia finally understood the profound impact her trauma and life choices had on her. In 2023, she moved from Florida to Colorado, with her then-boyfriend and two daughters. The family was excited for a visit from his dad, but the night before, Silvia’s traumas unexpectedly resurfaced. She describes hyperventilating, her mind racing through all she had endured as a child and the panic – “What if this happens to my girls?” Silvia knew how hard it was to explain to her family that this was all in her head, that she fully trusted the girls’ grandpa, but her past made it difficult to trust those around her, especially with her own daughters.

This was the moment Silvia realized she needed help. She Googled “sexual assault groups and therapy” where she found Jefferson Center at the PorchLight Family Justice Center a community center that brings together counseling, support and other resources for victims of violence, trafficking andabuse. Since April 2023, she has seen her therapist, Rachel, weekly, talking about anything and everything. Through counseling and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), she has been able to confront her past trauma, the decisions she made as a teen, and how she can better cope with them today.

In September, she made a difficult choice to split with her boyfriend but says she felt strong enough to go through it because of the support she received in therapy. She lived in a shelter with her girls until she was able to get into rapid rehousing.

Your story matters. Share it with us.

Has your life improved because of mental health treatment? Do you wish to use your experience to help others?

Sharing your experiences with mental health treatment can help others who are struggling, and it can help fight the stigma of seeking mental health care.

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For more information, please email VoicesOfHope@jcmh.org.

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