How do we put the Humpty Dumpty pieces of our shattered lives back together after horrific abuse?
Anderson Cooper recently asked Elizabeth Smart if she had any advice for Jaycee Dugard. Some critics have said that the nine months Elizabeth spent in captivity were nothing compared to the experiences of Jaycee being held captive for 18 years. While this is true, I think we need to remember that Jaycee has no surviving role models. And, healing from the Complex-PTSD that arises after a person experiences a series of traumatic events requires us all to travel along a similar path.
Respect a Person’s Right to Privacy
The most important point that Elizabeth made is that we need to curb our curiosity and respect Jaycee’s right to privacy.
Each time we ask our questions, we put people like Jaycee back into their nightmares. We force them to relive something they’d probably like to forget.
Relax and Reconnect
After an horrific experience, how do we start in picking up the pieces? Elizabeth told Anderson Cooper that her family went on vacation together and spent time being a family again:
. . .relax and enjoy your family and spend some time reconnecting. . .think back and think of things that [you] enjoyed doing with [your] family. . .going out and doing them again, and finding new things [you] would want to do with [your] family.
No matter how horrid our experiences might be they don’t define who we are as a person. Nobody asks to be kidnapped or raped. If we spend our lives looking at the rearview mirror, however, sooner or later we’re going to hit a brick wall. Elizabeth has good advice:
. . .set goals for yourself to continually be moving forward, continuing on with your life and not letting this horrible event take over and consume the rest of your life. . .we only have one life and it’s a beautiful world out there. . .so many things to see and learn and grow. . .find different passions in life and continually push forward and learn more and reach more for them and not to look behind. . .
Anderson Cooper had some sage wisdom of his own for all of us:
It’s something that happened to you its not who you are.
Note: Anderson Cooper survived stalking.