A Miracle Program

After a horribly abusive childhood, my self-esteem was gone, and I even had thoughts of suicide. But DLC introduced me to a specialized therapy that saved my life.

By Amelia

Sometimes I can’t even say his name. At those times, I just call him “The Evil One.”

My dad died when I was just 6. About six months later, my mom started dating another man who moved in with us and stayed for the next nine years. Nine horrible, awful years with The Evil One. I hated him for abusing me, and I hated my mother for not doing anything about it.

The Evil One would get drunk and puke, then pull me out of bed by the hair and make me clean it up. Throughout his time with us, The Evil One terrorized me and forced me to do unspeakable things – things that would haunt me for years to come.

When I was 14, my mom started dating an old high school boyfriend. On one of his visits, he raped me and then left quickly, never to be seen again. My mom knew about it, but never called the police.

My mother never protected me. She hated me. She told me, “If I had it my way, you never would have been born.” When my dad died, she just said, “He’s not coming back, so I need you to be a good little girl and promise to do as you’re told and not cause me a lot of grief.”

My grandmother was the only one who loved me, who really showed me affection. If it weren’t for her, I would’ve been much worse off. I probably would’ve killed myself.

Fast forward several years. I met a man and got married. He seemed like a great guy from a wonderful family, but he was an alcoholic and verbally abusive when he was drunk. He would apologize the next day, all sweet and kind. We ended up having two children together, and we were married for 14 years. But I caught him having an affair, and we got divorced.

Then I met the man who’s my current husband, and he is a great guy. We’re still married, and it’s going well. But I brought so much emotional baggage into that relationship because of my abusive past. When my grandmother died in 2003, I started seeing a therapist, and I felt like my world was coming to an end. I even planned my suicide at one point. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, but my therapist got me the help I needed.


Six years ago, I returned to school to get a college degree. I was struggling to pay attention, and thought I might have ADHD. I came to David Lawrence Centers for what I thought would be a simple diagnosis, but at my intake they suggested I see a counselor for three or four sessions. I didn’t think it would be any big deal . . . until we started digging into my past.

I stayed with that counselor for more than a year, and then DLC started doing this thing called Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT. It’s a way of developing healthy coping skills to deal with the times when I’m depressed, angry, or having destructive thoughts. You learn how to replace those thoughts with productive ones.

DBT gives you the tools to radically accept the things you can’t change. I had to train myself over and over again to use these tools. I had become so selfish, so narcissistic, thinking that everything was all about me. I used to punish myself a lot, turning to self-injurious behavior, even punching myself in the head to make myself cry.

Even with DBT, recovery is an ongoing process. You never get over the things that have hurt you, but DBT helps you to learn to live with it and manage it. I practice my DBT skills daily, and I rely on my Christian faith. If I didn’t practice these things, I’d go backward. Now, I no longer have impulse control problems, and my self-esteem is better than ever.

Today, I’m pursuing my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. I’m specializing in DBT, and I want to focus on marriage and family. I’ve cut ties with my mother, who was verbally abusive to me even into our adulthood. But I have a wonderful marriage and my daughters, now 20 and 16, are doing well.

I chalk it all up to the David Lawrence Centers and DBT. It has been life-changing for me. It is a miracle program.

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