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Re-Traumatization – One Victims Experience

 

Yesterday, 13th October 2022, I was re-traumatised by a Healthcare professional. In Northern Ireland the UK govt set up a compensation fund for victims of the ‘Troubles’. It is called the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme and administered by the Victims Payments Board. It is to provide successful applicants with between £2000-£10,000 annually to help improve their quality of life. I applied 12 months ago and since then I have provided all medical, therapist and personal documentary evidence of my PTSD and what happened to me as a survivor of the Loughinisland Massacre that took place on 18th June 1994.

I was asked last week if I would be willing to have a video call with a Healthcare Professional as part of the assessment process. I believed it would be a 30-minute call to confirm my details and the information they received from my doctors and therapists. I was wrong.

Over the course of 2 hours and 30 minutes I was questioned on everything I have experienced during the past 28 years. I had to recount the events of the terrorist attack, starting with the lead up to the attack, detailed recollections of the actual shooting, who was with me, where I was shot, the resulting injuries, surgeries and my physical rehab. The questions then followed on to my present physical state, my ability to walk, run and even go shopping with my wife.

They then proceeded to ask me about my psychological trauma. I had to divulge every emotion, panic attack, breakdown, visits to therapists, impact on my ability to work, my family life and any thoughts I had of being suicidal or if I had tried to take my own life. They then questioned me on why I did not go for counselling earlier in my trauma, why I had refused medication in the early years and if I had experienced trauma during these years. I felt under attack, having to prove to this person that I was traumatised and that I was deserving of help.

By the end of the interrogation, I was in tears, emotionally broken and spiralling backwards into a depression which I have not experienced for many years. The call ended and I was left with only my wife to help me manage my emotional wellbeing. As I write this, 24 hours later, I am still an emotional wreck. My mind is racing, and my body feels on fire with the level of heightened emotions going through it. I have been on the verge of crying all day and I feel frightened, vulnerable and worried that all the hard work I have done in recent years to manage my symptoms has been undone by one person, one assessment. I am totally lost.

If I ask one thing of all Healthcare professionals is that you never ask victims to recollect the events of their trauma when being assessed for help. This should only be done with a therapist under safe conditions. My re-traumatisation has set me back years on my journey towards happiness and it could have been avoided.