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Thread: Processing Trauma / Soliciting Personal Safety Tips

  1. #1

    Default Processing Trauma / Soliciting Personal Safety Tips

    It has been nearly a month since I was assaulted (or to use legal terminology, battered) on my first night in hospital care. I'm still not sleeping well (nightmares), I have an extremely exaggerated startle response (I had to leave my office last week because new furniture was being installed in the conference room down the hall... every bump or thud would send me jumping out of my chair, heart racing), and I have an extremely short fuse. I've also come to see a lot of things very differently than I used to.

    So what happened, exactly? This is hard for me to even write about, so I may skim over some details. I went into hospital suffering severe malnutrition as well as moderate alcohol withdrawal. Anyone who saw me that day -- including the friend who was initially helping me get to the hospital -- could tell you I was so physically frail that I could not have won a fight with a first-grader. I could not even stand up on my own without support. I spent most of the day at the hospital having tests run and etc... the assault occurred that night as I was getting into bed after using the bathroom. Suddenly, four large non-uniformed guys barged into my room, grabbed me harshly enough to leave bruises, and carried me to another room where they restrained my wrists and ankles and sedated me. Without warning, without cause, nor even the pretense of a cause. They never said a word to me and only smirked when I cried out that they were hurting me. Essentially, they took advantage of my frailty to make themselves feel Big & Strong™. Or maybe just feel better than useless on a slow night, who knows. I should also note that they were made aware of my digestive condition which can cause random vomiting... yet left me strapped on my back, sedated, and unattended. I could have died.

    I did call the hospital after being discharged to ask what the records showed for that night. Evidently I was "being combative." Of course, there are a few logistical problems with that:

    (1) That's not in my nature (even when flat-out drunk, and obviously I wasn't even mildly intoxicated at the time).
    (2) I was in no shape to offer any sort of physical resistance, nor pose any physical threat, to anything larger than maybe a house fly.
    (3) Who was I combating? The toilet?

    Having consulted with some attorneys, I'm seeing the same disheartening pattern unfold as has in the past when I was openly harassed at work over a medical condition. The take-home lesson, and the one I'm still processing, is this: there is a difference between things that are against the law and things that can be prosecuted under the law. What defines the difference is what you can prove. Obviously, in a hospital setting with four eyewitnesses who aren't going to be eager to incriminate themselves, it's very hard if not impossible to prove anything. Which is to say... assault / battery in a hospital setting is effectively legal. The hospital staff can do it with impunity and never suffer legal consequences. (And on a related note, they'd not have been held legally liable had I choked to death on vomit by the same token -- if there are no witnesses, then it never happened.)

    Which, aside from dealing with acute PTSD, poses a dilemma for me: how can hospitals be safely accessed? As it stands I am not prepared to set foot in another hospital, for ANY reason, unless I'm already on death's doorstep and they can't possibly make my condition any worse than it already is. I haven't thought of an effective means to ensure personal safety while behind the closed doors. Any ideas? Obviously, the law won't help...

    More generally, I've become much more acutely cognizant of my surroundings and circumstances... I have to constantly evaluate when the law protects me and when it does not, irrespective of what the law says is illegal or says people can be punished for. What the law says and what the law effectively is are not the same thing.

    As for the nightmares, they are usually no longer like "flashes" replaying the actual assault, but more diversified in their details while circling about the same themes. I had one recently about being kidnapped while visiting a foreign country (not sure which one), and being taken off someplace where nobody spoke English, my passport was taken, my captors would not speak to me so I had no idea what I was being held for (ransom? religious BS? something else?). The parallels are fairly obvious.

    I've begun keeping a cannister of pepper spray on my nightstand. When I wake from these nightmares, holding onto it helps me to calm down a little: I'm home, I'm safe, and I have at least one means to defend myself should random people come barging in at any moment. I try to envision having it with me in the dreams.

    My therapist doesn't have many ideas on how best to alleviate these issues (nightmares, jumpiness, quick temper, paranoia, etc). Anyone on ADISC dealt with anything similar or have any pointers?

    Thanks in advance...

    ~S

  2. #2

    Default

    I am no doctor but sounds to me like hyper vigilant PTSD, you need to get a good therapist to help you "back these experiences out" of your head, doing this will turn them from trauma to just memories, there is a small window to deal with these issues before they are in your head for good, and your hyper bigilance will overule al, other rational thought.

  3. #3

    Default

    I am concerned about the fear of accessing hospitals in the event an emergency should arise. I do think this is an important conversation to continue having with a therapist.

    I'm glad you've obtained legal advice on the matter. It can be very difficult to obtain a conviction in cases when there are no witnesses and I'm glad you had someone to advise you on the pros and cons of filing a complaint. You indicated you spoke to 'some attorneys' so it sounds like there was a consensus with several legal experts.

    I do think you need to find ways to move forward. Sleeping with pepper spray, nightmares, and living in fear is certainly no answer to what happened.

    From a legal perspective, there may not be a likelihood of obtaining a conviction, but I was wondering if it might be worth pursuing a formal complaint with the hospital. I was thinking about this because of an experience I had with a police officer about ten years ago:

    MY EXPERIENCE

    I was walking home late at night and saw a police officer get out of his cruiser and walked up to a homeless man who was sitting on the sidewalk panhandling. The man wasn't aggressive or bothering anyone, yet the officer lifted him off the ground, put his back up against the wall and punched him. The officer saw me witnessing it so he yelled at the man to not threaten him, even though the man had said nothing, and was visibly shaken and terrified. He shoved the man so hard I could hear the back of his head hitting the concrete wall.

    I stepped in telling him several times to stop hitting him. The officer threatened to arrest me for obstructing justice. (Seriously). I asked for his name or badge number because I wanted to file a complaint. He ignored me as he handcuffed this innocent homeless person and threw him into the back of the cruiser, banging his head on the top of the car before shoving him inside. He turned towards me and shouted that if I wanted his name or badge number I could get it at the detention cell because I would be arrested for interference. He sped off with that poor man.

    Since I had no information on the officer, I managed to get the licence number of the cruiser before he left. I went to the police station with the information I had and made a complaint. I emphasized that I had witnessed the event in its entire duration and was within hearing distance the entire time. I indicated clearly that the homeless man was peaceful, not engaging passersby or initiating contact with the officer. It was clearly police brutality. I filed a written complaint. They were able to identify the officer by the licence number and the time of the event.

    The process was explained to me. The complaint goes up to the Chief of police, with copies forwarded to the deputy chief, Inspector,, staff sergeant and supervisor. I was informed of two options. If I were to proceed with the complaint, it would likely be dismissed because of the lack of witnesses. I was also given the option to withdraw the complaint. If I withdrew it, then my complaint would remain on the officer's file for a period of two years. If another complaint were to come in,, similar in nature, it would play a part in establishing a pattern of behaviour which could lead to his dismissal. I was also informed that the homeless man was unable to be found so he would not be available to assist me. Although I'm an idealist, the practical decision was to withdraw the complaint, which I did, feeling regret and disappointment.

    It was nearly a year later when I heard that the same officer had assaulted another homeless man. This time he was charged and I was asked to provide an affidavit with my complaint to support the new charges. The officer was found guilty and dismissed from the force. I was proud in knowing that my role and my decisions played a significant part in having him discharged from the force. It took time before at happened, but it restored my sense in fairness, and that immoral,, unethical behaviour can be identified and filtered out.


    I guess I'm just trying to relate this experience to one of my own and looking at whatever options are available. I was lucky with the outcome of my complaint and it took time and, even worse, another assault before justice was served. But if the legal system can't help, then see if there may be other options available. Perhaps speaking to a patient's advocate may provide other steps you can take.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 01-Apr-2017 at 16:23.

  4. #4

    Default

    I suffered from PTSD after I was sexually assaulted. I had symptoms very similar to yours, including hyper-paranoia and nightmares.

    For me, it took time and leaving the college campus for me to start working through my ptsd.

    Now, about a year and a half later, I only have a couple triggers left and have dealt with most of my triggers and paranoia symptoms.

    Now, the worst paranoia symptom I have is my anxiety in crowds, especially loud and chaotic crowds. This is something that I dealt with as a child as well, but it has gotten worse since the assault. I have had a couple panic attacks from it, one of which was the worst I've ever had. But I retreated to a small quiet place and calmed myself down.

    The only other real triggers that I have left is the sound of skateboards against and the sound of rap/hip hop music, which have gotten considerably better recently with more exposure to the sounds in safe situations.

    I'm not sure if this helps you, but I mostly want you to know that there are others of us who have had similar experiences. And that we have gotten better with time.

    Please let me know if you want to talk. You can send me a direct message if you don't want to talk publicly.

    I hope you feel better soon.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5

    Default

    Get a nanny cam some look like alarm clocks so if happens again it will record events.
    Look on eBay that may help you feel better.

  6. #6

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Starrunner View Post
    I am concerned about the fear of accessing hospitals in the event an emergency should arise. I do think this is an important conversation to continue having with a therapist.

    I'm glad you've obtained legal advice on the matter. It can be very difficult to obtain a conviction in cases when there are no witnesses and I'm glad you had someone to advise you on the pros and cons of filing a complaint. You indicated you spoke to 'some attorneys' so it sounds like there was a consensus with several legal experts.

    I do think you need to find ways to move forward. Sleeping with pepper spray, nightmares, and living in fear is certainly no answer to what happened.

    From a legal perspective, there may not be a likelihood of obtaining a conviction, but I was wondering if it might be worth pursuing a formal complaint with the hospital. I was thinking about this because of an experience I had with a police officer about ten years ago:

    MY EXPERIENCE

    I was walking home late at night and saw a police officer get out of his cruiser and walked up to a homeless man who was sitting on the sidewalk panhandling. The man wasn't aggressive or bothering anyone, yet the officer lifted him off the ground, put his back up against the wall and punched him. The officer saw me witnessing it so he yelled at the man to not threaten him, even though the man had said nothing, and was visibly shaken and terrified. He shoved the man so hard I could hear the back of his head hitting the concrete wall.

    I stepped in telling him several times to stop hitting him. The officer threatened to arrest me for obstructing justice. (Seriously). I asked for his name or badge number because I wanted to file a complaint. He ignored me as he handcuffed this innocent homeless person and threw him into the back of the cruiser, banging his head on the top of the car before shoving him inside. He turned towards me and shouted that if I wanted his name or badge number I could get it at the detention cell because I would be arrested for interference. He sped off with that poor man.

    Since I had no information on the officer, I managed to get the licence number of the cruiser before he left. I went to the police station with the information I had and made a complaint. I emphasized that I had witnessed the event in its entire duration and was within hearing distance the entire time. I indicated clearly that the homeless man was peaceful, not engaging passersby or initiating contact with the officer. It was clearly police brutality. I filed a written complaint. They were able to identify the officer by the licence number and the time of the event.

    The process was explained to me. The complaint goes up to the Chief of police, with copies forwarded to the deputy chief, Inspector,, staff sergeant and supervisor. I was informed of two options. If I were to proceed with the complaint, it would likely be dismissed because of the lack of witnesses. I was also given the option to withdraw the complaint. If I withdrew it, then my complaint would remain on the officer's file for a period of two years. If another complaint were to come in,, similar in nature, it would play a part in establishing a pattern of behaviour which could lead to his dismissal. I was also informed that the homeless man was unable to be found so he would not be available to assist me. Although I'm an idealist, the practical decision was to withdraw the complaint, which I did, feeling regret and disappointment.

    It was nearly a year later when I heard that the same officer had assaulted another homeless man. This time he was charged and I was asked to provide an affidavit with my complaint to support the new charges. The officer was found guilty and dismissed from the force. I was proud in knowing that my role and my decisions played a significant part in having him discharged from the force. It took time before at happened, but it restored my sense in fairness, and that immoral,, unethical behaviour can be identified and filtered out.


    I guess I'm just trying to relate this experience to one of my own and looking at whatever options are available. I was lucky with the outcome of my complaint and it took time and, even worse, another assault before justice was served. But if the legal system can't help, then see if there may be other options available. Perhaps speaking to a patient's advocate may provide other steps you can take.
    I've contacted two attorneys and essentially got the same answer from both of them. A ptient's advocate might be something to look into, but for now I'm deliberately approaching this in small doses, because each disappointment -- each reaffirmation that assault and battery is OK -- just stirs all the feelings up again.

    I haven't yet come up with a reasonable plan to access hospitals, so for now they effectively don't exist for me. I think, regardless, the local hospital will remain blacklisted forever.

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by photogirl View Post
    I suffered from PTSD after I was sexually assaulted. I had symptoms very similar to yours, including hyper-paranoia and nightmares.

    For me, it took time and leaving the college campus for me to start working through my ptsd.

    Now, about a year and a half later, I only have a couple triggers left and have dealt with most of my triggers and paranoia symptoms.

    Now, the worst paranoia symptom I have is my anxiety in crowds, especially loud and chaotic crowds. This is something that I dealt with as a child as well, but it has gotten worse since the assault. I have had a couple panic attacks from it, one of which was the worst I've ever had. But I retreated to a small quiet place and calmed myself down.

    The only other real triggers that I have left is the sound of skateboards against and the sound of rap/hip hop music, which have gotten considerably better recently with more exposure to the sounds in safe situations.

    I'm not sure if this helps you, but I mostly want you to know that there are others of us who have had similar experiences. And that we have gotten better with time.

    Please let me know if you want to talk. You can send me a direct message if you don't want to talk publicly.

    I hope you feel better soon.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Some of my triggers are certainly problematic for me, but I'll elaborate more on that privately...

    I'm glad to hear that things have improved with time. That gives me hope. ^.^

    - - - Updated - - -



    Quote Originally Posted by foxkits View Post
    Get a nanny cam some look like alarm clocks so if happens again it will record events.
    Look on eBay that may help you feel better.
    I'd need a small item that would not be too conspicuous to be bringing into, say, the ER with you... I'm thinking. Also something not easily erased in case it is spotted.

  7. #7

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Tetra View Post
    I am no doctor but sounds to me like hyper vigilant PTSD, you need to get a good therapist to help you "back these experiences out" of your head, doing this will turn them from trauma to just memories, there is a small window to deal with these issues before they are in your head for good, and your hyper bigilance will overule al, other rational thought.
    I'm seeing a therapist but she didn't mention any of that... I'll look further into this and possibly run it by another therapist...

  8. #8

    Default

    Did you file a documented complaint - at the hospital?

    It doesn't matter, what you can or cannot prove... as Starrunner's experience, roughly illustrates...

    it's not so much a matter of litigious success, at the start of anything... Get someone to record your testimony of the accounted events - as you experienced them - period.

    Get it on written record, with that hospital and, ascertain, the best that you can (get the hospital to help you), who those people were, that were handling you and; who was in charge of that ward, for that evening!

    You may find that Medical Records Department - may be of service to you for that... and, as we've said before; check with patient advocacy and, I'll add, that if it is a Hospital with religious connections... you may even ask to speak with a representative, of that denomination - who has clout at that hospital...

    The PTSD, aspect, does seem classic and, I'm concerned that your counselor, seems to be at an impasse, so soon into exploring your situation...

    You may need to find another counselor; who is more adept, at handling PTSD criteria...

    My best and, for now,
    -Marka

  9. #9

    Default

    Dealing with PTSD on any level is difficult. Not only do you need to work through the emotional distress but you also have to re-train your limbic system. Which is what regulates the fight, flight, and freeze response. The methods vary for each person and personality.

    Took me 2 years in a residential recovery program to get passed the limbic responses I had from the military.

    Don't take that 2 years as terrifying number. The first 4 months was really just introduction classes, the middle 8 months was where the meat if the psychological work was with the latter four focusing on finding personal significance and re-experiencing social situations in order to begin retraining the limbic system. The rest of the time was a little bit of psycology, getting back to work, and dealing with the triggers of the workplace.

    Fact, I trusted my councillor. He was willing to try different methods and was willing to explain the why to me.

    -Trust doesn't happen overnight.
    -Moving forward requires facing fear.
    -Facing fear requires taking risks.
    -Risk is easier to face with friends.
    -Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart, becayse they probably do.

    As for the hospital side of the issue. I can't be much help.



    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

  10. #10

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Marka View Post
    Did you file a documented complaint - at the hospital?

    It doesn't matter, what you can or cannot prove... as Starrunner's experience, roughly illustrates...

    it's not so much a matter of litigious success, at the start of anything... Get someone to record your testimony of the accounted events - as you experienced them - period.

    Get it on written record, with that hospital and, ascertain, the best that you can (get the hospital to help you), who those people were, that were handling you and; who was in charge of that ward, for that evening!

    You may find that Medical Records Department - may be of service to you for that... and, as we've said before; check with patient advocacy and, I'll add, that if it is a Hospital with religious connections... you may even ask to speak with a representative, of that denomination - who has clout at that hospital...

    The PTSD, aspect, does seem classic and, I'm concerned that your counselor, seems to be at an impasse, so soon into exploring your situation...

    You may need to find another counselor; who is more adept, at handling PTSD criteria...

    My best and, for now,
    -Marka
    I intend to file a complaint, and also obtain a complete copy of the records from my stay. The thing is that I really need to approach this slowly to keep my emotions relatively calm... so I haven't done either just yet.

    My counselor supposedly specializes in a number of things, one of them being PTSD. So far I'm unimpressed with her response, but then again I don't really have a basis for comparison...




    Quote Originally Posted by Addy View Post
    Dealing with PTSD on any level is difficult. Not only do you need to work through the emotional distress but you also have to re-train your limbic system. Which is what regulates the fight, flight, and freeze response. The methods vary for each person and personality.

    Took me 2 years in a residential recovery program to get passed the limbic responses I had from the military.

    Don't take that 2 years as terrifying number. The first 4 months was really just introduction classes, the middle 8 months was where the meat if the psychological work was with the latter four focusing on finding personal significance and re-experiencing social situations in order to begin retraining the limbic system. The rest of the time was a little bit of psycology, getting back to work, and dealing with the triggers of the workplace.

    Fact, I trusted my councillor. He was willing to try different methods and was willing to explain the why to me.
    I'm hoping that I can recover a little sooner than that, given that it was a single occurrence, but I suppose time will tell. I definitely need to trust my counselor, and as a rule even physicians need to prove themselves to me, to some extent... it takes time, like you said.



    Quote Originally Posted by Addy View Post
    -Trust doesn't happen overnight.
    -Moving forward requires facing fear.
    -Facing fear requires taking risks.
    -Risk is easier to face with friends.
    -Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart, becayse they probably do.

    As for the hospital side of the issue. I can't be much help.



    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
    I'm a little short on friends. Most of mine are long-distance, and I don't usually make friends very easily (too many bad experiences on top of being a classic introvert). I may look into other support forums to see if I "click" with anyone...

    Also, I very much liked this: "Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart, becayse they probably do." Nice approach to social interaction. ^.^

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