Reliving trauma for court case


Reliving trauma for court case


your avatar   Ginsmom (45 year-old woman)

I was a victim of very severe physical abuse. This abuse occurred about 19 years ago. The person responsible also went to prison for molesting my daughter. He tried to kill me numerous times, usually by putting a 357 revolver with 3 bullets in it in my face and pulling the trigger. There were other types of terrible physical abuse.

On one occasion I was abducted and held and tortured for 3 days. I remember almost everything about this incident except I don't remember how I got away. I was so terrified I just can not remember. I have coped with this well over the years or so I thought, but recently am having a lot of problems with this. This person would laugh and brag saying that he killed someone. During the abduction I saw a newspaper that verified that fact (at least to me). After all these years someone finally listened to me and investigated this. He is now charged with murder and I have to face him in court.

I also have to recall all of the terrible memories I wish to forget. This is when I started having trouble. As long as I can keep these memories at the back of my mind and do not have to think about them I do well. Lately I have had trouble sleeping, and experience some nightmares (not as severe as before though). I cry quite a bit and can't seem to get this out of my mind.

I have to recall everything for the pending trial, and wish that the whole thing were over. In the same sense I have this terrible dreaded feeling that is eating at me. I can hardly bear the fact of having to see this individual again. I have read some lately on PTSD and I don't have all of the symptoms, but I do have some. It is like all the fear and terror have came back. I just don't want to relive all of these terrible memories, but now I can't seem to get it out of my mind. This has been going on for almost a year now waiting for the pending trial.

I am hopeful that I can return to normal once it is all over, but by the way I feel right now I am not sure that will happen.

Do my symptoms sound like PTSD, or do you think this is just an effect from having to recall all the memories. Why is it that I can not recall how I managed to escape from the abduction? I can recall so much about that situation including the information that I read in the newspaper to help charge this person with murder all these years later. I have tried to remember so hard but it just does not come to me. All I can remember about my escape is a phone booth outside.


    Kenneth A. Weene, Ph.D.

Let's start with the simple- your memory of the escape was probably never put into long-term memory because of the tremendous anxiety that accompanied it. There is a processing that is required to store memories, and I doubt you were in any shape to do that work. However, if it is really important to you, you might try an hypnotist.

You certainly sound like you're suffering from PTSD. You don't have to have every symptom. I would suggest that you go on a good antidepressant to help. Don't take any anti-anxiety medication as such until after the trial, but you could ask the psychiatrist about Busbar. (Note: use a psychiatrist and only one who specializes in medication for this. Don't let your regular doctor prescribe.) The DA's office might have someone to recommend.

I also suggest that you have the DA take you into court ahead of time, perhaps fill the jury box with some friends, make it as comfortable as possible and ask you questions - both those he wants to ask and those he thinks the defense might ask. By the way, if possible make that DA a woman not a man. But you have little control over that. You should bring a behavioral psychologist into the court with you for that exercise to teach you relaxation techniques. Put a picture of the defendant at the defense table. Make it a big one so you can see him. Do the entire thing over, again using relaxation techniques. Your DA's office should have psychologists on hand to help with that process.

Why remember now? Perhaps something stirred your memory. PTSD often happens that way. My guess is that the stimulus wasn't even conscious, perhaps an odor. Don't worry about it.

On behalf of all of us who might read your question and this answer, let me thank you for your helping to make this a better and more lawful world.

Ken Weene

This question was answered by Kenneth A. Weene. Ken Weene is a graduate of The Institute For Advance Psychological Studies at Adelphi University is a licensed psychologist practicing on Long Island, New York. His orientation is holistic and eclectic. In addition to a variety of contributions to the professional literature, Dr. Weene has published a number of poems. Before entering private practice, he directed Children, Adolescent, and Family Services for The Counseling Service of The Long Island Council of Churches. Ken's central belief is that life is a gift to be experienced, enjoyed, and celebrated. He knows that this is sometimes difficult in the face of physical, emotional, and other forms of distress and sees his goal as helping people to find their inner peace and joy in the face of stress and anguish.


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