The birthday that changed my life

“I was only fifteen when I first attempted suicide, and I was diagnosed with clinical depression. This was after many years of immense pressure from school, hurtful words by my peers, and frequent quarrels at home. But when I told my psychiatrist about the violence at home, I was surprised by her shocked reaction. All along, I thought my father’s violence was normal and happened in other families.

Shortly after starting therapy, I began having flashbacks of being sexually abused by my father and more memories returned. The violence continued with my father hurling various objects at us and calling me useless for not being a boy. The next year, I started experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. I attempted another suicide; the final push to act on it came after my father touched me again.

On my 16th birthday, I arrived at Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre and my life has never been the same. Dayspring turned out to be a strong pillar of support, helping me through difficult times in school and with my family. Even when I experienced suicidal thoughts, the staff never gave up on me and remained understanding and patient. Being at Dayspring helped me to organise my thoughts.

Surprisingly, when I saw my father for the first time after entering Dayspring, I was not angry at all. I felt at peace. I realised I had forgiven him. I told him that I believed he was a good person deep down. I understood: it is through forgiveness that we free ourselves and others from the invisible shackles that once held all of us down. This was when I knew how much Dayspring had changed me.”

Testimony by Clara, Alumni of HCSA Dayspring Residential Treatment Centre

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