This is the most difficult research for a book I have ever done as a writer. I have started a new book, a Christian Contemporary Romance, and it is kicking my butt. The hero is a veteran who is burned by a suicide bomber and now suffers from grief and PTSD -post-traumatic stress disorder. And the heroine is a kidnapped victim of sexual trafficking with cPTSD – complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I have had to learn a lot about these traumas. It is not nice. Yes, it is traumatic. My basic understanding (and it is basic) has now taken on strange two metaphors that have shown me their hells.
First, PTSD to me is like the World Trade Center disaster. The victim is caught on one of the upper floors and must race down the staircase as each floor above collapses over him. He runs for his life and bolts out of the ground floor as the building’s concussion blasts him into an ambulance that whisks him off to a care facility. His life is saved but he has lost many friends. An experience he will barely recover from and must learn to deal with this horrid disaster.
That hell differs from Complex PTSD which is many disasters throughout one’s life. (I do not think I will ever be able to go into an underground parking space after this.) In this lifelong journey, the victim goes down into their hell. The first floors are open-air where small traumas happen. Floor A is where your parents take your cell phone, ground you, swat your butt stuff like that. Floor B is where your boyfriend cheats on you, best friends stab you in the back. Floor C gets worse where there is maybe an accident, or you lose a parent, grandparent a beloved pet. And then your life goes underground. Floor D and onward to Floor Z where life gets worse as you descend. And at each floor light bulbs go out. Down you spiral. Kidnap, Rape, Beatings, Cages, Chaining. Down and down you spiral. Around and around you go until you can go no further and it Floor Z. One lightbulb remains. You step out of the car into swirling water that quickly inches over your foot. Cars are parked helter-skelter down here.
To escape, you must race back up the spiraling passage while other escapees shove, push, block you. Where are the exits? Turn this way? Turn that way? The water rises behind you. Your gas tank is on E. Will you make it? Many don’t. But around and around you must go…up the same way you went down. All you can do is pray you to get spit out back onto the street where you started.
Frankly, I do not think I can take my story down to Level Z and not be scared myself. It is a horrid hell for anyone to survive. Many ordinary people do not realize or believe just what these victims went through nor what they must face each day of their ‘normal lives. Many innocent people just say, “Oh it can’t be that bad.” Or “Just get over it.” Even the victims don’t or want to believe how much they have suffered, or how it has damaged them to just return to some kind of normality.
I hope and pray I am able to convey some level of these hells in my story. However, my research has opened my eyes and heart. God Bless These Survivors.