Severe PTSD in the context of Severe Brain Injury

Severe PTSD and Severe Brain Injury: Makes it Even Harder for a Victim like Myself to Come Forward
I have just received my first negative reaction to my book “Sara”. It was criticized as boring and repetitive and is posted on another website and not this one. I’d like to share my feelings/reactions to this criticism so that people who have not read it yet have realistic expectations. Most of the comments I’ve received behind the scenes and online are positive. I am not being defensive. I just don’t want people to have expectations that can’t be met.

I have made every effort I could to try and let people know that I did not write this book as an “author” building up a story to achieve some kind of dramatic ending. It’s testimony to the events. It’s not an easy to read book. I know that. I wish I could have been clearer and more organized. I couldn’t. My brain simply wouldn’t allow it even though I write for a living and can express myself very well – I can’t about what happened to me back then.

I am not lying when I say that I have brain damage from that time period. I have all the symptoms now and I had them back then and they are and were documented independently by professionals. They just didn’t understand what those symptoms meant back then. The science had not caught up to what I had experienced at that time. I can’t undo this damage – counseling doesn’t fix it because it is structural damage. I can only go forward. For example, I was documented by the nursing school, by physicians and dentists and friends as having profuse and diffuse sweating. This can be related to psychological stress but it is also a key diagnostic symptom of severe traumatic brain injury. This sweating is documented during the time period of escalation of spring of 1974 through 1975 and it directly correlates to my memories of the severe headaches that were contained in fragments all the way back at least to 2001 if not earlier.

The tragedy for me now isn’t that it happened anymore but in the struggle to get people to believe me and to look past all of the trauma: to tolerate the confusion, repetition, and fragments of my mind that are present in the book and reach an understanding that I am telling the truth and that all of these memory pieces and evidence combined are like DNA – no other person could fit into so many locations, know evidence and fit as many of the characteristics as much as I did back then in the manner that I said it happened. If what happened to me is not factored in to that era, then the understanding of serial killing in context to what happened back then is forever incomplete. I may not be the final solution to the case but what happened to me back then is important to its overall understanding.

You don’t have to like what I’m saying. You don’t have to experience this book like a “book”. I will tell you now honestly it is not an easy read. But please, understand the risks, and cost to me personally, of having to go this route. Look past me personally to what my journey in this represents to others who may be victims of crime with head injuries and struggle like I do when trying to testify and be believed; or who may be in prison now unjustly accused or convicted because of similar practices of law enforcement with-holding or suppressing evidence or by victim/witness bullying. Because that is what some have done to me – they have bullied, using their power and position to deny me my right to access the justice system and have my case evaluated.  Bullying is hurtful to anybody who is victimized by it but when it comes from those in institutions you trust it can be devastating.

While it does hurt to have negative comments from the public, I don’t feel anger to anyone who does not like the book. There are so many issues associated to this book that will take time for people to truly understand.   I am only grateful to each reader that they cared enough to read it. I am a firm believer that sometimes what you don’t like or don’t initially believe can evolve and change over time as you go back and think about things or as new things come to light or as your own life experiences evolve and change you.

But while I am forgiving of people, I am not so forgiving of the institutions and the power people hold in those institutions. In my opinion, no one who serves the public in the justice system has the right to decide who gets access to it and who doesn’t…our justice system was meant for everyone.  I was denied that right.

As I have mentioned several times, there are more issues associated with what happened to me than just those connected to Ted Bundy and his cases. I hope this post clarifies what my book is like so that if you do read it, you are not expecting a “story” and so that you understand I cannot help how scattered and shattered and repetitive and confusing it may be at times. I banged on law enforcement’s door for over a decade; I approached publishers, writers and media for over a decade to get help; and I went to over 40 “victim rights” attorneys and victim organizations and no one would help me.  I never wanted to initially go public at all – but then I felt I had no choice.  At some point, it became more important to me to speak out than to never say anything at all – regardless of the risks to me.

My book Sara is as much a statement about serious brain injury occurring from a violent sexual assault as it is about what happened back then. It is more than just a Ted Bundy story.  I survived because the physical injury did not impact my ability to learn new things or express myself in other ways – but it greatly limited my life and it left me handicapped in many ways. I hope my book helps people understand the symptoms when there is head trauma as well as psychological trauma from sexual assault. — Sara


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