Feeling unsafe in your own home

Rachel came to see me because she had an incident where someone had parked on her front lawn and she felt threatened. Actually she felt terrified.

She had to do something to protect herself because this car was a threat. She didn’t know why, just that it was a threat to her safety and no one was going to defend her or protect her.

She rang council who told her she had to talk to the police. She was terrified to make a complaint but felt she had to. It was the lesser of two evils.

She talked to the police and was given an unhelpful response.

She felt frightened and alone, despite the fact her husband was in the house with her.

She couldn’t understand what was happening to her.

Her heart was racing. She was terrified to move out of a room deep in her house where she had gone for refuge.

She found herself crying uncontrollably.

She was terrified of the car on her front lawn.

She was terrified of complaining to council.

She was terrified of complaining to the police.

She was terrified of her neighbours abusing her for complaining.

She had just justification for the last fear. Her neighbours had threatened her in the past, and wrongly accused her of making complaints against them. These neighbours had brought all the other neighbours in her tiny street on side so she was abused or avoided by the neighbours.

When Rachel came to see me she was still shaking. She couldn’t understand her reaction.

As she talked I asked her if anything in the past came to mind.

She thought about it and said yes.

There was an incident when she was being sexually abused by a boy in her class. He kept touching her inappropriately and she had asked him to stop. She had even gone to her mother for help.

Her mother did not take it seriously and had told her she had to hit the boy to make him stop.

In classes he was in with her she sat at the front of the class in front of the teacher. No one was sitting with her so this boy would come and sit with her.

Eventually she got so desperate she hit the boy with a ruler. The teacher caught her hitting him and told her to stop.

Rachel courageously told the teacher she would stop hitting the boy when he stopped sexually touching her.

The teacher sent Rachel and the boy together, unaccompanied, to the subject master.

On the way there the boy told her she had to keep quiet about what he was doing.

Once there the master put them both in his office and asked them what was going on.

The boy started to say it was just nothing when Rachel courageously cut in and told the master what the boy had been doing to her for months.

The master sent Rachel out of the room and back to the classroom.

She never knew what happened to the boy, whether he was punished or not.

What did happen to Rachel was that the entire class and their friends in other classes bullied Rachel.

Every moment at school was full of name calling such as “Dobber” “C###” “slut” and threats to her personal safety.

At no time did her parents, teachers, or anyone else at the school debrief her, check in on her, or step in to protect her from the bullying or make sure she had help over the sexual abuse.

She was hurt, violated, frightened, ostracised and terrified.

She learned that her world was not a safe place.

She learned that she would always be on her own and no one would defend her.

She learned that everyone else was against her.

She learned that boundary infringements, whether on her personal body space or personal home space, where dangerous and reasons for terror.

So it was not surprising that Rachel was terrified.

We were able to work together to help Rachel heal the wound from the sexual abuse and the bullying.

We were able to work together to help Rachel reenvisage her world as a safer place.

We were able to work together to help Rachel reconnect with other people in a safe way.

We were able to work together to help Rachel learn that most people were for her.

Sadly for Rachel, her neighbours were frightened of getting involved in a disagreement with her neighbour. They thought if they sat on the fence and “didn’t get involved” they were being impartial. That of course is not true.

To the mouse being crushed by the elephant the fence sitter is siding with the elephant because they are allowing the abuse to continue.

Rachel realised most of her neighbours were too frightened of her neighbour to speak to her. It was only two sets of closer neighbours who were abusive.

Rachel learned to separate what was happening in her street from the past abuse and bullying.

It took a long time. But Rachel was able to heal that trigger.

When working with trauma there is no quick fix. It takes time and patience to heal trauma.

There are a number of different techniques to help heal trauma. These range from somatic (body) techniques through art and sand play to EFT and EMDR.

To heal trauma you need to see a properly trained counsellor who knows what they are doing. I am trauma trained and very experienced in helping people.

To heal trauma you need to know that it takes time. There will not be just one visit, there will be many.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your trauma, please contact me on 0409396608 or nan@plentifullifecounselling.com.au

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