THV Extra: Crime victims suffering from PTSD | News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Anxiety and stress are symptoms many of face on a daily basis. But the victim of a crime might experience it more often.
LaShunda Dickerson is a former victim of abuse. She says it took her years to ask for help.
"All those years, all the black eyes, all the lies I've told because of the eyes, none of that, [not] even my kids seeing me pushed or drug down the stairs, none of that, I thought nothing about it because I loved him," says Dickerson.
You're walking to your car at night. You hear a noise, and before you can turn around, someone attacks you. Memories of that night don't just disappear. They can become haunting flashbacks that won't go away.
It's important for crime victims to get help before the stress becomes too much to handle.
PTSD is often associated with our military men and women who've served on the front lines. But they're not the only ones to suffer from anxiety and stress.
"I've been in the hospitals several times. I've been beaten," says Dickerson.
"It was just somebody that I loved and we had been together about 12 years. Next thing I know, it was like verbal abuse. There after it became physical abuse," Dickerson explains.
After years of abuse from a boyfriend, she's now the executive director of Abused Women and Children, Inc. in Arkadelphia.
"You have to think about if you have children, that's your tomorrow. You have to try and make things better so that they cannot let someone come in their lives and have a repeated cycle," says Dickerson.
Counselors say the hardest part is reaching out, taking that first step to seek help. But Dickerson says keeping it in can only cause more stress later on."
"When it's bottled up in you, it can cause you to be depressed. Sometimes it causes suicide. You can't function. You can't function at a job. And if you're a parent, you can't function with your children," Dickerson adds.
There are many resources out there to help you take that first step.
Terri Berger is the Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She says helping victims is a group effort.
"We've got people here from the prosecutor's office; we've got people here from law enforcement, counseling centers. It takes all of us collectively to be able to serve the victims and their needs to get them past this," says Berger.
Berger says as hard as it is -- reaching out for help is vital.
"They need to call. They need to call. They can call the coalition," adds Berger.
Former victims, Berger says, are often the easiest for victims to talk to.
"I think it's very important because it's such a hard thing for a victim to come forward and ask for help and to admit there's a problem. So to be able to connect with someone who's kind of been there really helps a lot. And to show that victim, you know what, you can come back from this and you can turn this negative into a positive," explains Berger.
"It's like therapy for me. I thrive on it," Dickerson says.
Meantime Dickerson has a message for victims.
"You need to know that it's not your fault, whatever the situation is."
Counselors say there is a wide range of factors that can trigger PTSD. Some of the most common are assault, domestic abuse, rape, terrorism and war. If you or someone you know might be experiencing anxiety, seek help as soon as possible.