After the incident a few Sundays ago, I was unsure of what to do. Fear made me long to stay quiet and safe. However, I forced myself to open up to others to receive help. This included talking with police for long hours.
Nervousness about being in trouble always plagued me when near police. Respect for authority is very important to me, so taking the officer’s time sickened me at first. “What happened to you was no big deal,” I kept repeating, shaking inside from guilt and horrid memories. Yet, others helped me to realize that seeking the law’s help was important.
Filing a police report and trying to help track down the suspect was not a weakness or overreaction on my part. Instead, it was a brave step taken to care for myself and future girls who might be hurt. If my case had not been important, the officers could decide not to follow through with investigating it. Instead, they took me seriously and did their best to help me.
Going to the law for help in recovery is frightening. Other women and men that I have met have expressed similar anxieties. What if they do not listen to me? Did I deserve what happened? How will they be able to really help me? What if he/she becomes even more angry and really tries to hurt me?
I know that going against those fears can seem impossible. However, think about what will be worse – living with the haunting memories and possible continuation of the pain or facing the agony outright by speaking out for yourself and loved ones?
The choice might not be that simple. I hope and pray that you never find yourself in a place where you need to go to the police. If you do, please see your decision to seek safety as a strength not a weakness. By helping yourself, you might be caring for others who could be hurt in the future.
Not all police officers or authorities will handle your case well. They are people, just like us, and not perfect. However, most really want to help people and should do their best to care for you. If your case does not need authority intervention or support, then you will at least know that you are safe. Try not to be hard on yourself if the case is not solved, the police are not caring, or your situation is dismissed. What you did in seeking support is still valid and wise.
If you are scared to speak with police, there are certain securities you can take. Ask to have a family member or friend in the room. Wear clothing you feel comfortable and safe in as well as bring items that might relieve stress (a squishy ball, therapy brush, blanket, etc.). Have tissues on hand and plenty of liquids. Most importantly, be honest and assertive about what you need. For example, I said that I did not want this man to see my face or me to see him if we went to court. There is nothing wrong with asking for safety precautions.
Here are a few of the benefits that I received from working with the officers in Oxford that helped me in recovery of PTSD:
- My terror but innocence in the situation were affirmed. I was a victim of an awful incident.
- The fact that other women are safer from him because the police heard about this case was reassuring.
- Knowing people were willing to defend me made me feel safer walking around town.
- Although recounting the experience was painful, it forced me to face the memory instead of hiding from it.
- Instead of dwelling on my misery for years like I have in the past, I addressed it right away and received immediate care.
Not everyone will have to use this coping skill, thankfully. If you need to, please do so. I never thought that I would be able to go to the police with a problem. However, doing so with supportive people by my side really helped this situation become less traumatic and potentially saved my Oxford trip.
- Police = Good by The Family of 5’s Journey
- Compassionate Cops?? by C. L. Swinney’s Blog
- Leadership is Speaking Out by improving police
- How to Recognize Heroes by cleverlyquaint