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Tonye undergoes transformation at aunt’s home

November 6, 2015


In fewer than 90 days, Chastity’s stable life spiraled into chaos. Tonye, her niece she’d recently taken in, was an escalating struggle. Chastity had concerns about being able to protect her own daughter. Chastity quit her job and dropped her college classes, but even that didn’t help her get control of Tonye.

“I was at the point where I was going to give her back just to protect my child,” Chastity said. “I knew Tonye needed help, but it was too much. I asked God for help.”

Further assessments of Tonye revealed that, before Chastity welcomed her into her home, the 10-year-old girl had been neglected and physically and verbally abused and was taken advantage of by family and community members. Tonye couldn’t read or communicate effectively and was far below her grade level in school. She didn’t care about her appearance or keep herself clean. These and the young girl’s physical and verbal aggression, homicidal thoughts and inappropriate behavior were all signs of the trauma she’d experienced.

Tonye was referred to Youth Villages’ Intercept® intensive in-home program, where counselors work with both the child and family in the family’s own home. Intercept Family Intervention Specialist Amanda Williams began meeting with Tonye and Chastity an average of three times a week. Tonye had been with Chastity three months when they started the program.

“The first priority was home safety and ensuring there was supervision in the home, “Amanda said. “We had to get things under control, because the environment was challenging Chastity’s ability to help Tonye.” The two women worked hard to help Tonye.

“Amanda was dedicated to this family,” Chastity said. “Other counselors had come here before and sat on the edge of the couch for their 45 minutes and then they’d leave.”

Christmas marked a turning point for the niece and aunt. “I think [Tonye] realized I wasn’t going away, and I’d be there and would support her,” Chastity said.

Chastity’s biological daughter and Tonye play together like sister now. Tonye smiles, her hair in braids. She does her schoolwork, has learned to read and has improved her grades. She plays volleyball and wants to go to college. When Tonye completed her Youth Villages program, aftercare services were established so she could still receive the therapy she needs.

Chastity has returned to college to finish a criminal justice degree. She never imagined the past year and, looking back, wouldn’t have made it without help.

“Amanda was in tune with this family,” Chastity said. “I thank God for her, and I’m blessed that she came to this house.”

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