Free to be a child again: Lucas heals from trauma

 
Every night, Lucas* curled up into a ball under his blanket, the threat of violence keeping him frozen still. 
 
Regular exposure to violence has made Lucas shrink away, to avoid being seen or heard in an attempt to protect himself from further pain.  
 
At home, all Lucas could think about was staying safe. He didn’t have anywhere to play or an adult role model to teach him about healthy relationships and behaviour. He didn’t have the space to develop any interests or passions. 
 
The regular threat of violence made him feel like he was living in a dark and fearful place - with no way out.

In every sense, Lucas didn’t have the basics that every child needs to grow and thrive. 

When Lucas was referred to Berry Street, he was 6 years old. Because he was so affected by his past experiences, he struggled in traditional foster care homes. We placed him in a Teaching Family Model house, where two specially trained carers, Alice* and Paul*, have been helping him learn how to live in a family and develop healthy relationships.  
 
When Lucas first came to us,” says Alice, “he didn’t talk to us at all. He was so fearful of everything and everyone”. 
 
I remember when we were having dinner one night and he dropped his cutlery. Straightaway he flinched and shrunk in his chair. He was expecting the grown ups to lash out at him. But when Paul and I didn’t do that, over time he started to relax and feel safe.” 
 
As children are treated warmly, they start to feel safe again and regain their trust in adults.  
 
Now that Lucas is getting the nurturing he needs to thrive, he’s learning how to communicate and negotiate, rather than expressing himself by lashing out.  
 
After Lucas was given a winter coat, he began venturing outdoors and exploring the garden. He has discovered a passion for gardening and enjoys tending to the flowers - it makes him feel calmer and more connected to the world around him. 
 
Sometimes I watch Lucas pottering around in the garden and playing up in his treehouse, looking so calm and content and cheerful. He’s free to be a child again.
 
I think about how far he’s come and how far he’ll go. I can see the future in those moments,” says Alice. 
 
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*Name has been changed in the interest of privacy. The models and volunteers pictured are not connected to the case study.