Ryan was 15 years old when he was referred to Better Futures, having sexually touched his younger brother. Ryan had his own experiences of being abused, and had also been exposed to violence in his mother’s past and current relationships.
We undertook a thorough assessment with Ryan, which identified that he: had poor self-esteem; had high levels of emotional loneliness when compared to other boys his age; held higher levels of thinking errors around children and sex than is found in the general adolescent population; and, appeared to perceive his brother and cousin as being compliant in their abuse, and unharmed by his behaviour.
“I guess at the time I didn’t really understand what the problem was. Things like that had happened to me too and at the time I thought most kids knew about sex and that they were ok with what I was doing.”
Over a number of months, we worked with Ryan on a weekly basis. We helped him understand more about consent and the misuse of power in the abuse of his brother. Over time, Ryan began to understand more about his behavior, and how his own experience of abuse had influenced his thinking about sex. Ryan developed a greater insight into the impact of his behaviour upon his brother. Ryan felt very bad about what had happened, and we supported him around these feelings too.
Throughout our engagement with Ryan, his mother was very supportive and engaged well with us and the family’s social worker as to the best way to keep everyone safe while we worked with Ryan.
At the end our intervention with Ryan, the questionnaires were re-administered to him. The results showed:
- a positive shift in his thinking towards children and sexual behavior, with indication that he was no longer presenting with thinking errors in this area
- he presented as having greater insight into the harm caused by sexual abuse
- he had a better understanding of how his own experiences of abuse had impacted upon him
- he had improved self-esteem
- he was being supported to get involved in safe community activities as well as having some ambition for his future.
“Undertaking the work at Better Futures was challenging, but it has helped me a lot. I know how to manage myself to avoid anything like this happening again and feel much more hopeful about my future.”