When first-time foster mom Julie picked up Benjie, 7, from her DHR social worker, she was pleasantly surprised at what a well-mannered, self-sufficient, and quiet little boy that Benjie
seemed to be. Over the next couple of weeks, as she learned more of Benjie’s story, Julie came to understand that Benjie’s behaviors were self-protection – he was trying to disappear and
not call attention to himself, trying to avoid what his short life had led him to expect from adults – pain, fear, and abuse.
Benjie had a normal start to life with two parents in the home, but things took a turn when his dad was injured at work and ultimately laid off. His mom still worked but couldn’t make up for
the loss of income. In the coming year, Benjie’s parents turned to recreational drugs and ultimately his dad became addicted to an opioid-based drug. Not only did his parents suffer, but as the drugs took an ever-increasing hold over the years, Benjie suffered from neglect, physical abuse and ultimately, sexual abuse. After one particularly tough, drug-fueled rage between his parents at home, Benjie was taken to the ER by his maternal grandmother. He was unconscious when they arrived and had a multitude of bruises, two broken fingers, a broken rib, and x-rays that told the story of old bone breaks that had healed poorly, due to lack of medical attention. His body also told of an even darker recent sexual abuse by a next-door neighbor on a day Benjie was left home alone. Benjie’s body and spirit were virtually broken, but he never cried in pain and nurses reported him to be sweet, quiet, and polite at all times.
At 7, Benjie was very small in stature and his outward demeanor was very passive, incredibly shy. At his foster home, Benjie rarely interacted with his foster mom Julie, any of the neighborhood children, or Julie’s niece who visited often. Benjie did play gently and carefully with the kitten in the home, cuddling and whispering for hours on end. Benjie came to the National Children’s Advocacy Center in August, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic for a forensic interview, a medical exam, and began an extended mental health therapy process, along with his foster mom, Julie, who gained the skills to help and guide Benjie on his healing journey. Benjie’s therapist recently shared that his sweet, gentle, shy nature remains but that his reluctance to engage with others is fading.
Benjie’s bruises have faded, his broken bones have healed, and his tender heart and soul are mending with care provided at the National Children’s Advocacy Center, funded by wildly generous donors, just like you. Just like Benjie and Julie, no one ever pays for services received at NCAC – those costs are never a concern, thanks to you. Benjie’s therapy at the NCAC will continue for several more months, alongside his foster mom Julie, including some therapy provided via telehealth due to COVID-19. This journey has not been an easy one and Benjie cannot get there without YOU.
Your support is what makes Benjie’s healing, and the healing of so many other children facing similar circumstances possible. You are the most critical piece. This work of healing and helping
children move past a terrifying life experience is not possible without your support, your engagement, and your prayers. Will you consider a gift of $100 or more to support Benjie and all the children of our community?
With thanks and wishes for your health and well-being,
Chris Newlin, MS LPC