Teenager Overcomes the Effects of Medical Child Abuse

a blonde-haired girl smiles at the camera“I thought my brother was going to die,” Kylie said. “We were all sick, but he was actually…dying.”

Kylie’s tone was calm, but her bright eyes dimmed as she recounted her life before Thornwell.

Throughout most of her childhood, Kylie and her younger siblings suffered the devastating effects of Munchausen-by-Proxy, also known as Medical Child Abuse, at the hands of their mentally ill mother. By the time they were removed from their home, Kylie and her siblings were malnourished, overmedicated and burdened with physical and emotional scars. These scars were caused by years of isolation, unnecessary medical tests, risky elective surgeries, and other invasive procedures that resulted in frequent hospitalizations.

On the Road to Healing

When she first arrived at Thornwell, Kylie felt frightened and confused.  She didn’t quite understand why she had been taken away from her home. As her questions were answered, she struggled to understand  that her mother was responsible for all of her physical ailments and all the years of pain and suffering she and her siblings endured. Learning this terrible truth about her past was the first step in her journey toward healing.

Kylie’s family teachers, therapists and medical professionals at Thornwell weaned her off her seventeen daily medications and reintroduced her to healthy eating habits. She was given a safe space to share and unload her emotional and spiritual burdens, and she gained the confidence needed to make friends and build trusting relationships.

Struggling to Read

Kylie had problems inside the classroom too. Thornwell’s academic assessment process revealed that Kylie, a very bright and promising student, had trouble reading.  Her reading skills were several years behind grade level, and she made slow progress with traditional tutoring methods.  Fortunately, Kylie was chosen to pilot an innovative reading program at Thornwell called Read Right. Because of the reading program, Kylie now reads a full year ahead of her grade level.

Her Bright Future

Today, Kylie is a happy, healthy, not-so-typical teenage girl with an optimistic outlook and a heart of gold.  Since coming to Thornwell, she’s discovered that she is a talented baker and enjoys making special desserts for her cottage family. After high school, Kylie plans to go to culinary school to become a pastry chef.  She hopes to get married and have children someday, but she plans to earn a college degree first.

Please visit the Family-style Residential Care page to learn more about the program that made such an impact in Kylie’s life. Want to read another story? Visit the Real Stories page to read more examples of how Thornwell has helped children and families.

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