Category Archives: Victim of crime

Seeing Beyond the Void

As we go through life, each of us develops defence mechanisms that help dealth1W15UEW3 with a wide spectrum of stressful situations and to protect us from painful memories. Two clever tactics that I know very well are suppression and repression.

Suppression is something everyone does. It’s when we think about something, but then consciously squeeze it to the back of our mind. This doesn’t need to be in a negative way and can act as an aid to filter out one thought while we deal with something else.

Suppression and repression are very similar, although repression is a little trickier to identify because much of the avoidance takes place on a subconscious level as we deny the memory or emotion even exists. I’ve only just become aware of my own repression, which unravelled during a poignant moment in therapy last week.

When I became a victim of an attempted murder, which I wrote about here, I was extremely lucky to survive, but what I hadn’t realise until now, was a fundamental part of me died inside. While the experience was particularly traumatic, the history of my assailants past crimes, including murder, would only add to the horror and hinder any path to recovery.

I’ve always abhorred any kind of violence because abusiveness has been a prominent pattern in my life since early childhood. Each incident of physical, verbal, emotional, and even sexual abuse would slowly hamper a willingness to recover, while placing significant strain on my ability to bounce back. My traumatised brain soon interpreted life as dangerous territory and wise to be devoid of trust.

Trust is the necessary ingredient for all human interactions, from casual acquaintances to personal relationships. Losing the ability to trust means everything about life feels unsafe. Meeting new people or visiting unfamiliar places eventually becomes something of the past.

th43ZJN5J0The more vulnerable and withdrawn I became, the more I developed an unhealthy need to protect myself from any kind of attachment. My need for love and affection or to trust and be trusted, had sunk beneath years of repression and there was no awareness of just how cold and distant I had become.

I painfully recall the pleas of significant people to consider their feelings and wishes, even if I had none of my own. It felt like they were on the attack, rather than trying to save me from an emotional black hole. As time progressed, the empty space became so vast, it was impossible to see beyond the void.

The dissociation from reality eventually made me inaccessible to those who had spent years trying to hold on to the person they once knew. The consistent pleas meant nothing and I slowly cut everyone meaningful from my life. The diagnosis of Depression, PTSD and Agoraphobia were my new companions in life, but the Disorders also became my shield against any expectations to change.

In the last fifteen years, venturing beyond a two-mile radius of home hasn’t been on the agenda and there are only six places I can visit, anxiety free. While I do believe in my ability to overcome these phobias, I’ve made little effort to push the boundaries. In all this time, I cannot recall boredom or loneliness ever featuring within my comfortable agoraphobic cocoon.

For reasons that may always remain a complete mystery, I once believed this dysfunction lifestyle was not only justified, but also acceptable. I had repressed my emotions to such a depth that I forgot they even existed.

When I learned of my friend, Anne’s, death recently, via the extraordinary coincidental telephone call, my mind became flooded with memories of a time when I viewed life very differently. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, these new realisations are like awakening from a fifteen-year coma to find that I’m living an unacceptable reclusive lifestyle.

There were a number of stark moments in therapy last week, as I recalled the pain caused to othersthAQ8EK2XX and the injustice I dealt to my own potential. Repressing the fundamental emotions necessary to human existence only blocked the flow of healing and tainted my perception of trust.

Fifteen years of extreme isolation is a very long time and I’m careful not to get ahead of myself. I’m excited, fearful, and fragile, all at the same time. It’s impossible to find a way back to something familiar, any previous point of existence no longer exists. The unknown feels a scary place to be and the challenges ahead won’t be easy, but somehow I need to find the courage to move forward.

Memories of Violent Crime & the Feelings.

I don’t usually remember the anniversary of this occasion, but I was supping morning coffee when something on the radio reminded me of today’s date. The kitchen clock eerily read, July 12th 9.20am, the exact same date, and time when the horror began, twenty-four years ago. That may seem a heck of a long time, but in terms of recovering from this kind of crime/trauma, it is merely a blink of an eye.

I’ve already written about this attempted murder experience, so I’ll not go into details here. I posted about the actual incident in, “My Attacker.” If violence and blood ‘triggers’ you, it might not be the best post to read.

The location was rural and as I crashed head first through my assailants bedroom window, the sound of breaking glass was like a bomb going off and people came running from the next street, only to find a blood soaked body lying motionless beneath a 20ft drop. The first neighbour on scene happened to be a nurse.

It was raining heavily that morning and as she tried to keep me conscious, the raindrops were splashing the side of my face and running through my hair. Don’t ask me why I asked the most bizarre question, “Excuse me, but do you have an umbrella?” I’ve always been partial to dissociating from the emotional pain, but the flippancy was a sign of the years to come.

A local police officer arrived seconds later and recorded the time as 9.30am. I couldn’t feel any part of my body and neither could I move. My assailant crouched over my head and for a moment, I thought he might just finish what he started.

This morning, as I watched the second hand slowly tick from 9.20 to 9.30, I recalled the details of those life-changing minutes. Despite undergoing specialist therapy for PTSD and months of sessions over the years, I’ve never been able to connect with the emotions, but today was different.

This experience just happens to coincide with yesterday’s post about our resistance to what hurts the most. In the last 10mths, Paul has listened to my story cover to cover. We encompassed everything that I originally set out to address, but I wasn’t expecting this foreboding sense of emptiness and uncertainty. What now?

I read somewhere that this is where some of the most important work takes place in therapy, when we stand alone with only the emotion. The Therapists already know the details, now it’s time to share the raw feelings. I wish we could just skip this part of the healing process.

Paul is the best Therapist I’ve ever met and if I can get through this with anyone, I can do it with him, but time is not on our side. This is only a Two-year therapy programme and I am already half way through.

There is no room for jostling around with ‘resistance’, but the prospect of actually experiencing those long-denied emotions is not only frightening, it feels like one of the most unnatural things to do.

Yes, July 12th is a day that usually goes unnoticed, but the tears were surprisingly different this year. Maybe this date will go down in history, not as something tragic, but as a new beginning.

The Court trial & the martyr

As regular readers already know, years ago I was the victim of a completely unprovoked attempted murder by an evil character who is your movie-style psycho killer.

I asked my parents not to attend the High Court trial in an effort to save them from hearing personal details of my life echo around a courtroom disparagingly. There was a vulnerable need to protect myself against mother’s judgemental mentality and those familiar speeches of martyrdom.

I could only envisage my parent’s shame as their son’s life became public before a Jury and a busy public gallery. My assailants defence team were preparing to tear my testimony to shreds with accusations of the most despicable kind. There were only two of us in that room that night, no witnesses, just my word against his.

A High Court trial Jury in the UK are never aware of a Defendant’s criminal convictions until after a Judge passes a verdict of guilty, so for the duration of our humiliating trial, my character came under cruel and degrading scrutiny.

My assailant’s academic intelligence arrogantly tried to justify my extensive injuries and blundered through a ridiculous explanation of why I would jump through a first floor window in a dangerous bid to escape, if I was the attacker. The Jury were there to make a judgement.

The Defendant’s respectable middle class parents sat quietly in the courtroom in support of their precious son, while I couldn’t trust my mother to provide that same unconditional support, not without it being regurgitated sometime in the future with that familiar statement of, “Oh, what a terrible time I’m having.”

On the day of the verdict, I couldn’t go anywhere near the Courthouse. A bizarre and rather shocking twist to this story is that only a couple of years previously, my assailant had actually been sent to prison for life, for the first murder he ever committed.

Two years into his life sentence, he took his appeal to the Supreme Court and the Judges ruled that the Jury in the first murder trial were prejudiced into finding him guilty. Even though he admitted to the murder, those idiotic Judges, in all their glory and wisdom, overturned his guilty verdict and set him free. He had walked free once, this trial could swing either way.

Waiting at home alone for the verdict, I have never felt so nervous in my entire life, the sort where you just cannot get off the toilet, while watching the second hand sweep away the minutes. When the phone eventually did ring, it was the martyr, my mother.

Mum: Well Cat, That’s it finished… (She has that familiar patronising voice, the one that stinks of ‘woe is me’). Now listen, son, I hope we can put this behind us now because me and yer Dad ‘are done’, this is taking its toll on everyone, you know.

Silence

Mum: Hello? Are ye there?

Me: Well? Have they reached a verdict yet? Have you heard?

Mum: Eh?… Oh… Aye, they got him for it… he’s found guilty. Now listen, son, I really hope we can start to move on with our lives. Your only young, you’ll get over it.

Stunned silence

Me: Um…well, ‘Leaving it all behind’ might not be so straightforward for the victim.

Mum: I know that you’re the victim, son, (my tummy turns queasy whenever she uses ‘son’ in that emotionally blackmailing way) but listen, we’ve all been through a hard time over this, we’re all victims, it’s not all about you, you know.”

That telephone call is the beginning of where we are today. There is little point in trying to speak up against such narcissistic thinking and my silence has pushed her further and further away, but the anger, the guilt, and all the things I should have said, but couldn’t, are fuel to the chronic rumination today and this is one of the things I will be working on in therapy over the coming weeks.