I recognize that sometimes it is possible Bouncing Back from Being Victim of Crime. Sometimes you are merely pickpocketed and suffer the loss of a cell phone or twenty dollars. If that is the case then you simply go to the store and replace your cell phone. You thank yourself for not keeping too much money in your pockets that day. You spend an afternoon pissed off and move on with your life. End of story…thankfully.Sometimes it isn’t that simple.
Sometimes the crime causes all of your travel ambitions to go up in one giant mushroom cloud. Maybe you get robbed of all of your money crossing the border and your sudden state of financial crisis forces you to cut the trip short and return to your home country. Maybe you are physically injured during an assault and require medical care in a more developed nation than where you are traveling at the time of the crime. Whatever the case may be, I think it’s important to recognize the consequences of trauma, both mental and physical, both short term and long term.
I have to be honest with you, this topic was on my list of assigned topics from the creator and manager of this website. It’s a seemingly legitimate issue that deserves discussion. However, I am not onboard with thee general premise of this topic. The topic suggests that it is “as simple as bouncing back”. I disagree with the generalization because there are numerous factors that play a role in the victim’s recovery, such as; the individual, the type of crime, financial damage, past history with violence and trauma, mental health, and the seriousness of the trauma. Additionally, I feel that kind of approach to trauma recovery, that why-don’t-you-just-bounce-back/get-over-it attitude, only re-victimizes victims. In fact, some studies have shown that it leads to prolonged recovery and an increased chance of developing long term issues like PTSD.
For the sake of this article, and doing my best to stick to said assigned topic, I am going to focus on the short term ramifications of being the victim of a traumatic crime.
I feel that I have said all that is necessary pertaining to fiscal damage, because that is a fairly simple equation. Out of money? Go home.
Trauma In Travel
However, psychological trauma has a tremendous way of shattering your world. It inverts your universe and transforms a previously presumed safe world into a presently assumed ticking time bomb. Consequently, it is, in my opinion, one of the most universally under discussed and under recognized issues. I’m not talking the loss of a cat or a fender bender in a parking lot. I’m not talking about getting ripped off by the fruit vendor or falling and scrapping your knee on the way home from work.
No. I’m talking about watching your fiancé shoot himself in front of you after holding you hostage for several hours. I’m talking about losing your only child and grandchild to a home invasion. I’m talking about recovering from the ruthless sodomizing of three men. I’m talking about watching your best friend get blown up right in front of you. I’m talking about watching as innocent people are beheaded and then staked on the fence posts in your front yard.
These are not my stories. These are the stories of those strong and amazing people whose paths I have been privileged and honored to cross in my own travels.No, for that kind of trauma there is no bouncing back.
Some of you may be wondering why I am going on about this on a travel website. Well, because trauma isn’t localized to globetrotters. It’s a people issue, not a travel issue.
However, for the sake of staying on said topic, I will give you one example that is relevant to travelers. It’s my example. It’s my trauma. I can tell you for a fact that there was no bouncing back.
When I was 22 years old I graduated college and took off for Kenya where I participated in a teaching internship. It was awesome. It was so awesome that I decided to do some backpacking solo. I started off in Tanzania. However, only four short days after beginning the great adventure of my life, I was the victim of what the embassy calls an “express kidnapping”. There was a machete involved, loud music, and three men. Despite the fact that I wasn’t raped, I was seriously screwed up. I was physically beat up from the whole ordeal, and a complete and total nervous wreck. (To this day my arm still bothers me from where they tried to throw me back in the cab as I fought for my freedom, my right to live.)
Despite my desire to keep on keeping on with my trip, I was forced to cut my great adventure short. I was forced to accept the presence of evils in this world the likes of which I had previously remained blissfully ignorant. I was jumpy. I had nightmares.
I was terrified of taxis. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. In short, I was traumatized.
Recovering As Victim
I did eventually get my mojo back. However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take me months. In fact, it took six months of therapy, self-defense training, and prayer before I was a fully functional person again. I can now shamelessly say that I didn’t fully get my mojo back for at least a year and a half. I know what you are thinking, “Holy shit, that long?” Well, yeah. It’s actually pretty normal considering what I went through, in a third world country 1000s of miles away from home, with a preexisting history of crime victimization.
For crying out loud, while I was running away, trying to get help, I turned around to see them throw my friend back in the cab and bring the machete down on her. I thought that she was dead. You don’t just pop up the next morning and say, “I think I’ll have my regular latte and the local paper please!”
No, these things take time.
I am writing this for one reason, because this topic offends me. And it should. To assume that it will all be okay the next morning shows just how little people in general understand about trauma. It reinforces a deeply rooted societal ignorance that these things, these horrible life changing experiences, can just be brushed under the carpet and forgotten. It offends me because that is what people said to me. People expect you to bounce back. I am writing this for every person, male and female, who has ever been re-victimized by the ignorant assumptions and pressures of others. To you I say, do not allow their own ignorance to permeate your wounded soul and make you feel guilty. Don’t hate them, they don’t understand. Instead, be happy for the, that they don’t understand. The one thing that all victims of trauma have in common is the knowledge that we possess. We know what we are living with. We know the cold hard reality of the world. We have to get out of bed every morning knowing that control is an illusion, and the only thing that we can truly offer in our defense is caution and a pair of defiant, speculating eyes. For a while, a very brief while, I resented other people. I didn’t understand how everyone was just walking around, acting normal, when there are so many people suffering every day. Now? I still envy them, but I appreciate them. Perhaps it is for this simple reason that I would never, ever, wish the kind of pain and suffering that I experienced on anyone else.
I did make a comeback, but I am not the same person. I don’t go backpacking very much anymore. I am still afraid of taxis and don’t like people to get too physically close to me. I am often preoccupied with my safety and the safety of others.
No, I’m not the same person. I’m a different person. I’m the kind of person who appreciates every day. I am the kind of person that cherishes moments of sunshine and mountain views. I am the kind of person who worries about others, especially when I can see that they don’t truly know what there is to fear, because, after all, it one thing to read about it in books and see it on the news and something entirely different to come face to face with the monsters that you grow up fearing. I am the kind of person who got back on the horse and moved to South America despite it all. I am the kind of person who talks about this, publically and even when it hurts, hoping that just one of you will see the beautiful hope in my initially otherwise dark and scary story.
This article was written by first person account by one of my best writers Tina Stelling. This is her real account of this incident that others should be aware of when travel in some regions of the world. She is a truly remarkable professional that everyone should consider taking a more thorough look at her works at her website. Her Website is www.tinastelling.com I welcome you all to check it out.