From the outside, Liza* seemed to have a pretty great childhood. But on the inside, Liza fought a secret that she was afraid tell anyone, not even her parents – she had been sexually abused.
As a young teenager, Liza’s trauma and low self-esteem led her to skip school regularly and engage in very unsafe behaviors. She was spiraling out of control and at 15 years old, disaster struck. One night after she had run away from home, Liza was kidnapped, locked in a motel room and sold for sex. Liza was trafficked from this room for two months. After her rescue, Liza returned to her parents’ home, who couldn’t even begin to understand what had happened to their little girl. They tried hard to support her, but Liza completely withdrew – isolating herself and refusing to go to school.
Fortunately, Liza’s parents discovered Excelsior. Liza was suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She struggled because she was so uncomfortable with herself. Then Liza met Bri – her new therapist. Something about Bri comforted her and she began to open up. Liza joined Canine Healers, Excelsior’s trauma-focused canine therapy program and really began processing through her trauma. Intensive family therapy helped Liza improve communication with her parents and reestablish a healthy relationship. Additionally, after years of truancy, Liza became invested in her education and caught up on school. Now a bright, smiling teenager, Liza dreams of becoming an exotic veterinarian, something that may never have crossed her mind if she hadn’t received the help she so desperately needed.
Unfortunately, Liza’s story is not the first of its kind. But for over 42 years, thanks to the generosity and compassion of community members like you, Excelsior has been helping youth like Liza, find the strength and courage to recover from tragedy and thrive.
Your support on Colorado Gives Day helps Excelsior continue to provide hope and healing to youth and families that need it most. You can preschedule your donation here: www.coloradogives.org/excelsioryc