Mia is a 38-year-old social work student

Mia is a 38-year-old social work student. She is an enthusiastic student and is diligent in her studies. She produces excellent quality academic work and rarely misses a deadline. She is eager to learn, communicates appropriately with professors and fellow students and accepts feedback well. In an assignment for one of her social work courses, she was asked to reflect on her own personal history and the impact that it might have on her professionally. The professor expressed that experiences of trauma or suffering often prompt individuals to consider social work as a profession. Many times, those life events evoke compassion and a desire to help others. However, it is important that sufficient healing takes place so that the social worker can healthily assume the role of helper and attend best to the needs of their clients. Mia reflected on her own history and reached out to the professor to share a bit about her journey and solicit some feedback as to the best next steps. Mia reported that she remembers a carefree and happy childhood. She admires her parents, who she describes as kind and hard-working. She had a close relationship with a younger brother and remembers playing with him for hours. As a teenager, however, she was sexually abused by her 30-year-old maternal uncle over a three-year period between the ages of 12 and 15. Her uncle, a recovering on-again-off-again alcoholic who lived with the family, implored her to keep the abuse a secret. He made frequent promises that the abuse would stop, but the pauses never lasted more than a few weeks. At times, if he was worried that she would reveal the abuse, he tried to elicit sympathy from her by stating that her parents would kick him out. He told her he was afraid he would resume drinking, become destitute, and “lose everything”. At other times, he called her a “slut” and threatened that her parents would never believe her or would blame her, since he had such a positive relationship with the family. At the age of 15, Mia revealed the abuse to her father. He immediately acted, and the uncle moved out of the home. The uncle died shortly afterward from a drug overdose. Mia’s mother arranged for her to receive counseling for a few months, but Mia remembers little about this. There was no further discussion about the abuse with her family. Mia is now happily married and is the mother of two teenage girls. She states that she has thought little about the abuse since that time. Her husband is aware of it, but they have not discussed it in depth. She reports that they have a strong marriage and that she enjoys positive relationships with her daughters. Now that her daughters “don’t need me as much”, she felt free to pursue her social work degree and is eager to pursue a career working with at-risk children and youth.

Mia is a 38-year-old social work student

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