Post traumatic syndrome


Thank you very much for your 2 cents. Very useful for me.
It´s wonderful to have the kind of people you are, on this forum. I believe this place could be a wonderful place to help people (instructors too).

Marcos Castro
(Argentinian Instructor)

Wow ! Now it's my turn to be proud to participate here . You folks are some of the most articulate I know . It's really wonderful that when people come here with serious inquiries , that we have such a pool of experienced professionals to respond at many helpful levels . Everything from personal insights , reading materials , web links , and professional experience ... awesome ! :-)

PS: We all missed you last Thursday Jen :-( ... I was gettin clobbered and never once heard a "Sorry!" .. hehe . See you Tuesday ! And for God's sake watch out for your dads choke ; it's downright lethal ! (All empowerment stuff aside..haha)

*still smilin* , VAR

I've been reading this thread with great interest. I am a social worker - worked with female/male survivors for 3yrs, now with perpetrators (often survivors themselves)for the past 2yrs in a prison setting.

The info suggesting finding good counselling is a great idea, but even as an instructor there are certain empowering things you can do.

Here are some things survivors find helpful: normalizing their experience - although everyones reactions may differ they are normal for them. They need to know there is no right or wrong way to react.

validate feelings - some exercises you do may/not induce reactions - if there is emotional/psychological reactions, validate them. They are okay and a normal part of healing. Listen and reassure. It can take many, many years for someone to move through the healing - there are no time lines.

She may be more comfortable if she can set the limits with regard to touch. Some survivors are uncomfortable being touched - you may want to ask for permission ie. in demonstrating moves, etc.

Encouragement is a great thing. Focus on the positives. (Sean and Varley are both really good at this!) Pick up on and work with the things you see that she is doing well. Positive feedback is a very powerful tool of empowerment - and not just for survivors.

Many survivors go through times that are better than others, then seem to fall back. Her reactions (paranoia as you noted) is very normal. Her whole world view (it being a safer place) has been shattered. It is very normal to become hypervigilant and maybe even a little paranoid.

I've also heard many survivors talk about recurring nightmares of not being able to scream. Positive imagery is good for helping to work through the feelings of powerlessness as is actually working on self-confidence and comfortability through things like self-defense classes.

The best thing you can do is be honest - say you have little experience/knowledge in the area but are willing to learn. Authenticity, honesty and willingness are the wonderful gifts you can offer to both her and yourself.

I found some good links at
There are many, many good things on the internet to familiarize yourself with what people experience when they have been assaulted.

Best wishes to you. It's really nice to know that there are such motivated and respectful instructors/supporters out there for survivors.

Thanks for allowing me this opportunity to add my 2cents to the discussion. It was really nice to be able to participate in a discussion that I have some working knowledge in.


Great post Jen!

Talk soon,


There's that positive feedback I mentioned.


good stuff


Heres my 2 cents...

I had a form of post traumatic panic attack syndrome....I'm not sure if she has similar symptoms but heres how I dealt with it.

1) Learn to control your breathing so as to overcome hyperventilation and panic attacks which play a huge part in post traumatic stress syndromes in escalating the persons fear of potential consequences.

2) Post traumatic syndromes relate to a familiar or unfamiliar enviroment causing a traumatic and possibly fatal incident/situation to be triggered in the back of the head causing the fight or flight mechanism.

The only way to deal with her specific situation is to educate her on her condition, once the person recognises its a condition with symptoms and they learn what the symptoms are, why their body is doing it to them (adrenilines effect on the body, fight or flight, hyperventilation, linking present situation/enviroment with trauma or death etc) they can start to realise it can be controlled.

Of course proper training such as Tony's contact panic attack drills will give her confidence, scenario based drills etc.

Just my expereince as someone who has personally experienced a post traumatic syndrome and beat it.

GOod replies here, but the reality Marcos is that she asked you if you could restore her life and confidence...

THe blunt reply is no you cant, for several reasons:

1. You cannot create a co-dependent relationship with her. She must see herself as having the power, desire and will.

2. You have honestly informed us here on numerous occaisions that you are a 'new' not make the mistake that so so many make in this can only teach what one knows.

3. This is a job for a specialist, be they councellor or self-defense specialist.

CHoosing the right response takes a moral and ethical strength. This women has asked you something that maybe you are not ready to fulfill. OCnsider that. It does not mean you cannot show her basics and othe rskills, it just means you neeed to be clear with yourself [first] and here immediately second about your ability and goals...

I trust this made sense.



"I´m the kind of teacher who is not afraid to admit they don't have the answer to everything." That´s why I ask this question on this forum, because I wasnt sure if I had an answer.

Thank you for your advices Sean, Mike, Var, LeMon and Tony. I appreciate it a lot.

I´m afraid you are right. It´s a "big problem" for me, and maybe I´m not prepared to deal with it yet.

The problem (for her) is that I guess I´m the only Reality Based Self Defense teacher in town. There are lots of theachers, but they teach Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, ... and are very traditionalist.

Now, altought it´s a big problem, it doesnt imply I dont want to learn a bit more about it.
A question: why she couldnt scream? Is that common in that kind of situation? Is there a way to solve that?

Respectfully and hoping to learn from you,

Marcos Castro


I already had the TB´s three audio tapes. I guess they could help her a lot.
Actually, I believe that the way to help her is to teach her self defense (both physical and pshychological), so she become more confident on herself. Am I wrong?

Marcos Castro

Marcos , I think Sean offers good advice when he suggests proffesionals in 'that' field . Once an intake interview is done , that proffesional will have something to go on .. Sean also has insight into that type of self defence ; however we have to consider 'when' starting such a program is best for her. Perhaps in the big picture , other healing interventions should come first ? Not sure , just wondering ...

Peace , Var


Teach her what you can and help her to get the help she needs. Encourage her to try talking to a professional counselor. In some cases, self defense type classes are actually considered as part of the therapy.

Be the kind of teacher who is not afraid to admit they don't have the answer to everything.

Focus more on helping her find the answers than worrying about having the answers yourself.

Good Luck to you and your student.


Tony and every person on this forum:

I have a new student, she´s 23 and quite beautiful. Three years ago, she was victim of an intent to rape. While walking on the street at night, coming back from work, a man approached her from behind touched his back pretending he was an acquaintance and when she tried to turn his body to face that man, the potential rapist grabbed her with an arm around her waist and touched her intimate parts. She told me, SHE WASNT ABLE TO SCREAM, ALTOUGH she tried it. But she tried to escape and fell down to the ground. At that moment (and she doesnt know the reason) the potential rapist run away, and she couldnt see his face.

Now, the big problem: it happened three years ago and since that moment, she is very nervous when walking on the street, when she hear a noise, her heart began to pump really hard. SHE´S PARANOID!!

She come to me, asking me if I could help her to live the way she lived before that incident.

I didnt start working with her yet, but I would like to hear advices to help her.

Thank you very much

Marcos Castro


Firstly and foremost, if you are not a counselor or someone in a person of authority, don't go it alone. If you want to help out, do some leg work and research some differnet avenues for her to pursue and receive the required help that she needs. For example, counsellors or organizations that specialize in this.

If you want to help out yourself, inlist the help of someone in this field, read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker and obtian Mr. Blauer's three audios and Rape-safe video.

Hope this helps