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Over the past 3 years at the Berry Street School, Tori has grown and healed from her past experiences into a calm, engaging and future focused young person.

After experiencing family violence and loss of a family member, betrayal and sexual assault, Tori struggled to build trusting relationships with adults. Her guilt, shame and anger led to violent outbursts and damaging property.

Like many of our young people at the Berry Street School, Tori came to us while experiencing complex trauma. Still struggling to process the loss of a loved one and a sense of shame over her sexual assault at the hands of a trusted adult, Tori was left emotionally raw and distrustful of everyone.

She was disengaged from her learning, and was engaging in substance use and dangerous behaviours to manage her emotions. Tori sought out conflict with staff and students in order to take some control over her environment, which led to regular violent and destructive outbursts. This left Tori emotionally drained and trapped in an even deeper spiral of shame. Tori desperately wanted to be seen for her intellectual curiosity, quick wit and kindness, but hid these things under a protective shell of aggression.

Slowly building trust

The Berry Street School staff team slowly built trust with Tori, through persistent kindness, patience and unconditional positive regard (that is, being kind and compassionate towards others and ourselves). Like many of our young people, Tori is easy to like, with a wonderful sense of humour and unique perspective on the world. However, it took her time to trust that our attempts to get to know her and see her for all her strengths were genuine.

As time passed, Tori built connections with staff over her interests, shared experiences of facing fears and personal best achievements on excursions, and success and growth in the classroom. Tori progressed from sporadic attendance and leaving school angrily by 11am each day, to attending full days. She demonstrated years of growth in her reading and mathematics and exhibited leadership on school excursions, winning her one of our school awards.

Hope for the future

Now Tori is working towards her Intermediate VCAL Certificate, with the goal of becoming a chef. She actively engages with new people and welcomes others into the school. Tori is always there to share a joke or talk about music, ideas and of course, food. Tori is open to speaking with others about the challenges she has faced and manages her emotions through self-knowledge and the self-regulation skills she has learnt. Tori can now avoid and heal conflict, and she holds hope for the future. Most importantly, she experiences the unique joy that comes from hard work and success each day at the Berry Street School.

Through her own perseverance and hard work, Tori has learned to manage her emotions, focus on her learning and has high hopes for the future.

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