"My safe space"

"My safe space"

"My safe space"

Sometimes I come across a thought or a statement I want to share with you, but I can't figure out why it seems important. I’ve been pondering this one for several weeks.

“The Ranch and the people who work here are my safe space.”

It is not the statement itself, but the “why” behind the statement that is so important to understand. 

To put it into context, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch works with children who have severely complicated psychiatric and psychological issues. All are trauma survivors. Their thought patterns have been developed through a fight for the survival of body and soul. Although the way they view the world may not be accurate in the general sense, it was very true in their experience. For example, in a general sense, it is not “normal” to go through life trusting no one and actively hurting people with your words or actions to keep them away. Yet, it makes perfect sense if the people who were supposed to care for you hurt you and used you and neglected you. The work of the Ranch is to create a bridge between what was real and necessary in the past, to what is healthy and well-adjusted in the future.

The child who made this statement is at the Ranch now. He is loud and constantly intruding on everyone else’s space and conversations. He is perpetually anxious… you can feel him waiting for the “next bad thing” to happen. He has done a lot of self-harm by cutting, head-banging, and punching walls. When new children enter the cottage or others leave, it can disrupt him for days as he stays on high alert for what harm will come from the change. The abuse he endured for the first years of his life has scarred his thinking, as well as his body. He laughs a lot, is incredibly kind, and would love to sit and listen to bad jokes for days. He is an average student.

Also, he thinks about suicide a lot. It is a maladaptive coping skill that comes from his history. When he was in the worst of his abuse, he found that if he thought about dying, he could take himself away from what was happening to him. While incredibly sad, it helped him survive. Against all normal thinking, thoughts of suicide were his “safe place.” Now at the Ranch, he is working to replace those thoughts with others.

Saying, “the Ranch and the people who work here are my safe space,” is the first, small, step to putting suicidal thoughts in his past.

The next slow steps will be to expand that “safe space” to the broader world. These are huge, difficult transitions. And so very worth it.

Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

You can transform the life of a hurting child through your monthly support.

Honeycomb Partners are a special group of highly committed friends who have made their already-generous support a monthly blessing. You can be a Honeycomb Partner, too! Your monthly gifts will help Ranch children experience the care and love they so desperately need. Your generosity will help kids heal from their deep emotional and spiritual wounds, experience genuine transformation, and know the peace and love of Jesus. For more information and to sign up to become a Honeycomb Partner, click on the link above.


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