Thursday, February 15, 2007

When a stranger breaks into your home

Last night burglars broke into the house of a friend of mine while she slept and started carting her property away.

The noise woke her up, and she went into the living room to find out what was going on.
“They pointed a gun at me, guided me back into the bedroom and told me to get back into bed. Then they piled blankets over me and told me to stay put.”

My friend, who lives alone, later called the police, who came and took a statement, and the insurance company, which sent officers to take a statement. And all this “statement taking” is not going to help my friend feel safe in her home.

She spent the night at a friend’s house, but she will have to go back to her house, despite her fears. Moving is also not an option – her lease only expires at the end of the year, and the owners are overseas, I think.

She looks shell-shocked, and I don’t know what to say to help her. But I can understand her anger, fears and pain.

It happened to us too

December 2005, while we were on holiday, burglars broke into my house and stole everything of value they could take. They took my desktop computer, with all my unpublished articles, children’s stories, poetry and half-finished novel.

They also took my fancy dinner sets, crockery and cutlery, the family TV set, video player and all our videos. They even took the lawn mower and my hair dryers.

Baby and I were traumatized, even though they were long gone by the time we got home.

For the first couple of days, Baby slept with friends while I barricaded myself in the house and jumped at shadows.

We didn’t have a TV set or computer, so I started a vegetable garden, hoping it would keep us busy. I also washed every piece of cloth I could lay my hands on, including curtains, and painted the bedrooms, passage and kitchen.

A year later, I’m finally relaxing in the house again, and don’t jump at shadows as often.

Some resources

Post-traumatic stress disorder in children

Helping children cope with crisis

Victim support’s young people’s web site

Children and violence

To read the summary of the story coming out of the event, click here.

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