Maddie was 17 and walking through Leeds station with some friends one night when they were assaulted by a man who hurled homophobic abuse at them and pushed them around.

This would be horrible for any young girl, but for Maddie, who has autism, it was extremely traumatic.


The man grabbed her by the shoulders and terrified she had a severe panic attack. The girls managed to alert British Transport Police (BTP) who arrested the abusive man and made sure the girls were okay – even driving them home as Maddie was in such a state. Maddie was only diagnosed with autism at the age of 13 and it has not been an easy journey.

She struggled to understand people and make friendships, was self-harming and even tried to take her own life.

With support from other organisations and her loving family she has made great improvements but the experience at the station threatened to undo all the progress she had made. Luckily after the incident at the station BTP referred her to us and we have been able to support her since.

Already suffering with anxiety, Maddie now felt scared to leave the house on her own, stopped going to meet friends and began to lose her independence.

We met with her and her family every week and helped her realise that terrible incidents like the one she experienced were rare. We gradually helped her build up her self-esteem and confidence again and found an app the family could all use so they can see where each other is all the time. With our support she been brave enough to go back to college.

Most of all Maddie says that she now feels more like her old self – happy, confident and outgoing.