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1200 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Tel: (213) 481-7464
Fax: (213) 481-7147

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Children's Clinic M-F 9am-5pm
(213) 482-9400

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(213) 481-4260

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Adult Clinic M-F 8am-7:30pm
(213) 481-1347

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(213) 481-1792

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Border Crossing Nightmare

Abril was ten years old when her mother left their home in Mexico to escape her abusive parents. Unfortunately, Abril was left behind with the grandparents and suffered abuse at their hands. When her mother learned that the grandfather was grooming Abril for sexual abuse, she paid a coyote to bring her now 15-year-old daughter across the border.

Traveling alone proved to be treacherous for Abril. Two nights into the four-day journey, she was raped by the coyote. A man traveling with the group tried to stop it, but was severely beaten for interfering. The next night, she was raped again.

The coyote’s group was caught by immigration as they reached the border. Because she was a minor, Abril was reunited with her mother in Los Angeles. But, the threat of deportation would linger.

Several months later, Abril was lured into a neighbor’s apartment and suffered yet another rape. Because her mother had warned her to stay away from the neighbor, Abril did not immediately tell her mother what happened. Their relationship was strained, as Abril was angry with her mother for leaving her behind with her grandparents.

The mother was conflicted about seeking help for her daughter. Family and friends criticized her for using any assistance from “the system” – warning her that U.S. citizens hate undocumented people for using services they do not pay for.  Thanks to an understanding friend, Abril’s mother learned about Amanecer and brought her daughter in to meet with a therapist.

Abril was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her symptoms included nightmares, hyper-alertness, a sense of impending doom, panic attacks, sleeplessness, quick anger and poor concentration.  She was failing in school and having a difficult time transitioning to the new culture. Abril’s three-month treatment included Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an intensive, evidence-based practice frequently used with victims of violence, abuse and neglect. The TF-CBT process helps the victim work through the traumatic event, learn relaxation and self-modulation techniques, and develop cognitive coping skills.

Abril’s mother was included in the treatment process. She learned how to support Abril with helpful interventions, including how to decrease unhelpful thoughts, and to develop safety plans.  Their communication and coping skills have significantly improved their relationship.  Together, they are working on a plan if Abril is deported that does not include returning to her grandparents. Abril is in a healthy relationship and her symptoms have dramatically decreased.  The therapeutic process cannot erase what happened to Abril, but she has learned to master the pain she suffered and live life on her own terms.

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