Tomorrow night Insight examines how to move forward from a traumatic event – what helps and what doesn’t when trying to put yourself back together again.
According to experts, 70 per cent of us experience trauma in one way or another and most people recover through their own resources*. Ten per cent of those people develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but in rape victims and people who have experienced the horrors of war, the incidence of PTSD can be as high as 30-40 per cent.
Insight explores trauma recovery by speaking with Susan Berg, who at the age of 15 was the sole survivor of a boating accident that claimed her parents and brother. Wracked by survivor’s guilt, Susan began to rebel against the world. Now 46, we find out why it took her decades to forgive herself.
We meet Manny Waks, a sexual abuse survivor who shattered a powerful code of silence in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. In mid-2011 Manny went public about being sexually abused at the religious school across the road from where he lived. For speaking out, Manny and his family were intimidated and shunned by their community. Manny is now a tireless advocate for victims of child sexual abuse and we learn why this has slowed his personal recovery.
We gain a deeper understanding of extreme trauma with Yordanos Haile-Michael, who survived rape, torture and being forced to serve as a child soldier in Eritrea after being kidnapped off the street at age five. Yordanos recently broke her silence about her past in a powerful documentary and stage play called The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, which she credits with taking 50 per cent of her trauma away.
Lastly, we get to know Doug Wright and Clyde Rowley, two men who collided in a devastating road accident in 2012. Despite years of arduous recovery and the breakdown of his marriage, Doug has faced his recovery with positivity while Clyde, who caused the accident, has spiralled into depression and guilt. We examine why two men involved in the same event can have such different reactions to trauma.
After the unimaginable events the guests have experienced, host Jenny Brockie asks them how they view themselves – victim or survivor? And does that language matter on the road to recovery?
“I suffered from survivor’s guilt. I felt it was my fault my family had died, considering I was the one that was driving the boat at the time it sank.”
“The most important thing for me was to be seen, to be heard, to be accepted, to be believed. That is something that was hugely missing in my life and that is what I have now.”
Manny Waks (pictured)
“I think a lot of it has caught up with me, I wasn’t protecting myself as I should have and I was warned many times about doing that.”
“I call myself a survivor. I’m not a victim; I call myself a survivor.”
“It was hatred. I hated myself, I hated what I’d done. There was depression, anxiety, suicide attempts. If it wasn’t for my family then I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS.