Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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Bank Robbery Victim

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Shelly, Mar 15, 2011.

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  1. Shelly

    Shelly New Member

    Two years ago, I was involved in a bank robbery. The robber jumped the counter three minutes after the branch opened and surprised all the tellers. I had $14K in my hands, banding it and preparing it for shipment. I was in the drive through area and assumed I was out of sight.

    One of the girls mouthed "oh my God" and I turned around. The next thing I knew he threw me to the floor, money scattered everywhere and there was a gun against my head as he screamed for my co-worker to pick up the cash and clean out my vault.

    It lasted barely 3-4 minutes, but it seemed a lifetime. He jumped back over the counter and ran out. We were all rattled and scared but ok.

    I moved out of state, and received notification a few months ago that he'd been caught and was going on trial. Then I was subpoenaed. Thankfully the robber took a plea deal and I didn't have to return and testify.

    But ever since I received the paperwork with his name on it, I've found myself reacting badly when startled. I've always been easily startled, but I'd usually laugh it off.

    Lately if someone drops something heavy, starts shouting, slaps something down on a counter, or bangs on the door I'm ready to hit the deck. My hands are shaking right now because a man I didn't know came to the door with sunglasses on, rang the bell and wanted me to open the door. I asked who he was, but I couldn't understand what he said and ignored him.

    Prior to this incident, I was looking forward to going out...I was going to the mall to look for a few things now that we're in Daylight Savings Time. But now I'm envisioning all the stuff that could happen to me if I go out tonight.

    I've NEVER been like this in my life until that robbery. I've traveled all over the world, been adventurous, willing to try new things, meet new people. But lately I've been feeling more anxious, more reclusive and now like a prisoner in my own home. My blinds are drawn, the porch door is shut and locked. It's a nice evening and here I sit pouring out my Anxiety.

    I feel foolish for complaining about this, when so many members here have been through for worse. And it's been two years. I'm not afraid to die. But for some reason my inner self is a pretty scared about something and I need to get a grip on it. Can someone with a similar experience give me some pointers?

    Thanks so much,

    njray likes this.
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  3. deer_in_headlights

    deer_in_headlights I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    Welcome Shelly!

    I'm glad you found us!

    Are you working with a trauma therapist now? This is going to be something we will encourage you to begin, if you are not already. Therapy will help you work through your fears and get back into living life again.

    I hope you soon feel very much at home here. We're here with understanding, support, empathy, compassion and encouragement. Please keep posting, as connecting with people and receiving support in the world and here, as well, is crucial for healing. It's not healthy or healing to isolate yourself. That's a normal response to the trauma that you've experienced, but you need to learn new skills to move beyond this.

    How frightening your experience was! Your reactions to such a bad experience are normal reactions to an abnormal event. (I narrowly avoided being in a bank that was robbed, but my teller friend was very traumatized by the experience.) I have an idea of how terrifying your experience was, and why you are constricted by fear, now.

    The good news is, with good therapy, you can reclaim your life.

    Good for you, too, for not allowing the stranger into your home under the odd circumstances. Your self-preservation instincts are very good. The hypervigilance (always on guard) is not good, however. (You'd think you'd be safer being always on guard, but in reality, over time you wear yourself out and become too burned out to pick out the genuine dangers.)

    There is more...
    I'll be looking forward to reading your posts and seeing you. I hope you grow to love this place and the wonderful people here, as much as I do.

    njray, a3a2 and Froggie like this.
  4. KP the nut

    KP the nut Tigger is back!!!!!
    Premium Member

    (((Shelly))) Welcome to the forum.

    I'm so sorry that happened, I can understand how it has affected you. I'd echo what Deer has said about seeing a therapist. It is possible to cope with PTSD on your own but it is very hard. It is hard with a trauma therapist but they can provide techniques for helping to deal with hypervigilance and anxiety and can guide us through the process.

    There is great info on the home page which helped me realise what I was feeling was normal for PTSD and explained why I felt that way.

    I've found friendship and support here. I am never alone.

    I hope the forum helps you as it has helped me.
    Take care
    Froggie likes this.
  5. Froggie

    Froggie When it seems impossible, the possible happens

    Hello Shelly, and welcome to the forum. Here there is no "your's is worst than mine" stuff, it's just down right "you've got it and so do I" and from there we all try to find solutions to help us deal with it. I'd say more, but I think that Deer really summed it up fairly well. And as KP mentionned, we do make some very good friends here. Take your time, read some articles and forum threads. If you find that some trigger you, let it be until you get some help as it can be pretty rough dealing with this alone. What you went through was hefty and real, so I'm not surprised by your reactions.
    njray likes this.
  6. Shelly

    Shelly New Member

    Thank you so much for your kindness everyone. I'm relieved that no one thinks I'm overreacting. I guess the length of time that the PTSD has taken to surface has taken me by surprise.

    The incident took place in the Midwest, but I've since relocated to Florida. Would anyone be able to suggest where I might find trauma counseling? I know that our local Sheriff's department offers assistance if the crime took place here, but since it didn't I'm at a loss as to where to turn. Is there a registry of support groups for PTSD?

    I truly appreciate your warm and encouraging words...

    njray likes this.
  7. McBeth

    McBeth New Member

    Hi Shelly,

    Having gone through a bank robbery last month myself, I understand how you're feeling (I was diagnosed with PTSD a few weeks ago). In fact, a Google search lead me to your post and this forum. It's not at all unsual for PTSD to surface years after the robbery occured. That said, you're not foolish and you aren't overreacting; what you're feeling is pretty much the same as how I'm feeling.

    As far as counseling, the only thing I can suggest is checking with the victim's assistance unit at your Sheriff's office. You mentioned that the robbery took place in another state, however the victim's assistance unit might be able to point you in the direction of a therapist who specializes in trauma. That's how the victim's assitance unit works in my area , anyways. You can also try the FBI website -- they have a robbery victim section with links to national victim's assistance organizations such as the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA).

    Kind Regards,
    njray likes this.
  8. Shelly

    Shelly New Member

    Oh Beth, first let me say how sorry I am for what you went through so recently. And here you are trying to help me. You must be the nicest person in the world. I'm willing to hear your story if you want to share it with me. Sometimes telling someone who "gets it" helps. That's been my problem. No one in my circle of loved ones who want to help are able to do so.

    I've been through bank robberies twice, and it does get easier over time. I know that for a fact. Like you, I reacted to the horror right away and got some help. However it did take awhile to get past the emotions. You may feel better about everything once the perp is processed and unable to get out. I know we all took a sigh of relief after the trial. He got six years and in that time I was able to get on with my life and forget him.

    The second robbery was different. I was a little spooked at the time but alright otherwise. I should have gotten counseling when they told me to do it.

    It wasn't until I moved back to Florida and loud noises began bothering me. Then I began to have panic attacks when someone knocked on the door that I realized I was getting in over my head.

    I wonder sometimes if it's because I've never seen his face. He was masked and covered from head to toe. The first guy wasn't.

    # 2 recently took a plea deal so I know he's in for at least three years before eligible for parole. But the state has no photo on his inmate record. In Florida they do. I wish I could see him so my mind could digest that he's just a guy in an a prison uniform...not this fully clothed hooded monster who had a gun to my head and threatened my life.

    I'm going to look into all of your suggestions. And I'll be praying for your recovery as well as my own. If you want to chat about your experience, please send me a message.


    njray, KP the nut and McBeth like this.
  9. Kristin

    Kristin New Member

    Shelly, like Beth a Google search brought me to your post. This is the first time I have searched for this sort of thing online since my robbery in August '10. I guess what was stopping me was fear of hearing a story similar to mine and yet again being forced to relive it. But I have realized that doing nothing about it and bottling my emotions has done me no good thus far. I want to thank you for sharing your story. It is so nice to finally hear from people who understand how I am feeling. My family and friends just dont get how this experience can change your life so drastically. I hope you find the peace you need and deserve.

    God Bless,

    njray likes this.
  10. njray

    njray Well-Known Member

    shelly, kristin and all victims of violent crimes

    If you are in the USA reach out to your Victims Crimes Compensation Board in your state. They offer a host of services and every state has one as it is a federal program ... I would strongly suggest contacting them its free. And the services they offer are many. In most states the attorney generals office and most county prosecutors officers have representatives. Trust me if you have any problem with local rep go to state level. They are very compassionate and understanding as they see the worst of the worst everyday...This is one of the few really good programs for victims to which there is NO COST.

    There might be a v i n e program also. This program affords me to keep tabs on my attacker in jail If he sneezes to try to get out I write a letter to the parole board and remind them how my life is Fd up because of the attack placed upon me by a d--k h--d. He will serve every day if I have something to do with it.......As I will and my family will have to live with my disorder for the rest of my and there lives.........
    Shelly and Froggie like this.
  11. Shelly

    Shelly New Member

    I'm going to check with the Victims Crimes Compensation Board. I don't want any money. But I would appreciate some counseling services. It's an excellent idea. Thanks so much!
    njray likes this.
  12. njray

    njray Well-Known Member

    It is a great program... there are many services available besides money and therapy.... thoroughly check out entire website as there are many additional services available that can assist in your recovery

    OKRADLAK Well-Known Member

    Welcome! What you went through was very very scary. You do not have to think it was lesser than XYZ. It was traumatic! I hope you find a lot of help and hope here. :)
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