Laura lives in a cul-de-sac. Her property has a walled garden, and the back entrance is from the road via a wrought iron gate to the side. She loved her house, her garden, her two cats and had many friends and neighbours who she loved to visit.
One morning in June 2015, Laura let one of her cats out into the garden and left the back door slightly ajar in order for it to come back in.
On that morning, in those split seconds an intruder came into her kitchen and unleashed a savage attack on Laura before raping her and then kicking her continuously with such force that she lost consciousness. There she lay until a neighbour who had seen a man running out of the side gate, had gone in to see what was going on.
Laura spent twelve weeks in hospital, four of those in intensive care and underwent surgery with a further two months in convalescence. By the time she was referred to post trauma therapy eight months later, she had attempted suicide three times. She had turned to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to obliterate the reality of her experience, and several physiological symptoms such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and bouts of psoriasis had manifested her mental state.
After hearing her story, it was clear that Laura was suffering from emotional, physical and physiological trauma. Shock and trauma go right to the very core of our existence and to be able to remove this from a person’s psyche can be likened to taking a splinter from deep beneath the skin.
Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, professionals, psychologists, psychotherapists all play their part in assisting a traumatised individual. However, sometimes they fail to see the splinter.
After six or seven counselling sessions, it became apparent that general counselling was not working for Laura, and that in order for her to benefit, she needed to somehow lessen the impact that the vicious attack had left her with.
After an explanation of the process of Psychological Debriefing, it was explained to Laura that it was not counselling but a processing intervention that would allow her to lessen the impact of what she had been through, she stated that she was prepared to try anything.
The following week the therapist carried out the Psychological Debrief, which took two and a quarter hours. A further appointment was booked for four weeks later, and Laura went home.
On that fourth week, the therapist opened the door to Laura who seemed to have changed her appearance somehow, when asked how she had been – a smile came over her face and lit up her eyes (something the therapist had not seen her do before). She said very excitedly:
‘I don’t know what you did or how you did it, but it’s worked. I don’t want to die anymore, and I‘ve decided to start to make a new life for myself. I’ve already decided to do some voluntary work in one of the charity shops in the town. For the first time since the attack I put my own rubbish out last week. I now have extra security but I don’t think about dying anymore.’
Laura was left for dead in an unprovoked attack leaving her world in utter chaos for many months. Before the Psychological Debrief she had totally isolated herself in the newly secured safety of her own home, the very place where the attack had taken place. She had been unable to leave her house or have inter- personal relationships even with her own family.
As a direct result of the Psychological Debrief session Laura was able to slowly start to revive her life and carry out normal everyday tasks.
An excerpt from:
Working with the Trauma of Rape and Sexual Violence
A Guide for Professionals
ISBN – 978-1785921117
Sue J Daniels
MBACP & UKRC (Snr. Accred).
Professional Counsellor &