My girlfriend was in the Aurora, Colorado theatre July 20, 2012 and witnessed the mass shooting there. She didn’t get hurt, but saw people who had been shot. She was so traumatized that it has been hard for her to get over it. Not long after when the shooting of the children in Newtown and then the Boston bombing or any mass shooting news comes up it still really gets her upset. How can I help her?
I’m so sorry to hear that she had to witness this carnage, but it does bring to light the fact that while the authorities give us concrete numbers on the wounded and killed in these attacks, there is no way to quantify the numbers of bystanders who are emotionally traumatized. Their trauma can range from the terrors of the mental images and memories of what they saw, to feeling helpless to stop the carnage or guilty over seeing others hurt or killed when they escaped that outcome (survivors guilt).
The best support you can provide your girlfriend is to make sure she gets professional help if she needs it. Review the information below to see if she might need the help of a licensed counselor or Doctor. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the initial trauma occurred, Post-Traumatic Stress can affect survivors for years.
There are times when issues go beyond the realm of Life Coaching, and this is one of them. I wish you and your girlfriend, and all those affected by these horrific tragedies, an eventual return to well being.
When to see a Doctor? Read from the Mayo Clinic Website on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
It’s normal to have a wide range of feelings and emotions after a traumatic event. You might experience fear and anxiety, a lack of focus, sadness, changes in how well you sleep or how much you eat, or crying spells that catch you off guard. You may have nightmares or be unable to stop thinking about the event. This doesn’t mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder.
But if you have these disturbing thoughts and feelings for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.
In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may be so severe that you need emergency help, especially if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else. If this happens, call 911 or other emergency medical service, or ask a supportive family member or friend for help.
For those of us who don’t suffer from PTSD, listen to how positive thinking can reduce stress.