Searching for Safety


Being a parent can be both rewarding and terrifying, especially at 17 years old. For James*, it meant stepping up and providing for his family.

James was struggling to balance a good relationship with his son’s mom, provide for his family, and look out for his six siblings, all while trying to make it through high school. He began having trouble in school with other students threatening him openly as well as on social media.

Hurt and angry, he joined a rough crowd, where he began stealing vehicles and invading homes. James tried to protect himself and his family the only way he knew how, but it led him down a dangerous path. He finally was arrested for reckless discharge of a firearm he had in his pocket.

“I didn’t want to be next to die,” said James. “I wanted to be able to protect myself.”

James was referred to Highfields Residential Treatment program, where he felt welcomed with open arms.

Though James’ reason for being at Highfields was due to dangerous activity, he finally felt safe. He was recognized for who he was as a person, not by his past or physical appearance, which was something he struggled with.

“Highfields put me back together,” said James. “They showed me that people do care, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.”

James was able to work through his insecurities and challenges with trust through individual and group therapy. He was able to build relationships with his peers through activities around campus like fishing and playing baseball.

He really valued the interaction he received, especially when others shared going through similar situations. He realized that he wasn’t alone in his struggle for love and protection.

James now feels confident to return home with more positive goals and a healthy mindset. He’s planning on finishing school, and finding a safer way to protect and provide for his family.

“Even when I wanted to give up on myself, Highfields never gave up on me,” said James. “They taught me to trust in who I am.”

*Name has been changed.

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