Judge Lou Olivera, of the Cumberland County, North Carolina, veterans court program, sentenced Sgt. Joseph Serna, a Special Forces soldier who did four combat tours in Afghanistan, to 24 hours in jail for violating probation.
Judge Olivera knew that Sgt. Serna suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So when the judge saw Serna trembling as he turned himself in to serve the sentence, Judge Olivera decided to serve the time with him.
A compassionate judge sentences a veteran to 24 hours in jail, then joins him behind bars, on WashingtonPost.com.
Yes, what Judge Olivera did to support Sgt. Serna is terrific. But what really impressed me was his effort in establishing the veterans court program, designed to help military personnel who are suffering from PTSD and other issues.
Finally, people are recognizing that PTSD is real. This wasn’t always the case.
In 1975, when psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, met his first veteran, he had no training and no books on trauma. He finally found one book, published in 1941, called The Traumatic Neuroses of War, which described the experience of World War I veterans — exactly what van der Kolk was seeing in Vietnam veterans.
During the early years of World War I, van der Kolk says, the British created the diagnosis of “shell shock.” But dealing with suffering soldiers would have slowed the war effort, so the British General Staff issued an order forbidding the mention of “shell shock.” In 1922, the British government wanted to prevent the diagnosis of shell shock, so soldiers couldn’t claim they suffered a battlefield injury and demand compensation.
Soldiers have been keeping quiet about shell shock —PTSD — ever since.
Society is finally recognizing the seriousness of this stress injury. I was heartened to hear Judge Olivera talking about PTSD in the video, and how his court works to help people suffering from it.
It’s a start.
PTSD caused by sociopaths
Next, I’d like to see widespread recognition of the fact that PTSD can be caused by psychological or emotional war — the type of war declared by sociopaths.
Mental health experts are talking about “complex PTSD,” but the consensus definition still doesn’t cover the experience of many Lovefraud readers who have been targeted by sociopaths.
Here’s what the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) says:
The ISTSS task force definition of Complex PTSD included the core symptoms of PTSD (reexperiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyper-arousal) in conjunction with a range of disturbances in self-regulatory capacities. The latter were grouped into five broad domains: (a) emotion regulation difficulties, (b) disturbances in relational capacities, (c) alterations in attention and consciousness (e.g., dissociation), (d) adversely affected belief systems, and (e) somatic distress or disorganization. Complex PTSD is typically the result of exposure to repeated or prolonged instances or multiple forms of interpersonal trauma, often occurring under circumstances where escape is not possible due to physical, psychological, maturational, family/environmental, or social constraints (Herman, 1992). Such traumatic stressors include childhood physical and sexual abuse, recruitment into armed conflict as a child, being a victim of domestic violence, sex trafficking or slave trade; experiencing torture, and exposure to genocide campaigns or other forms of organized violence.
I think we can all agree with the cause of PSTD, “exposure to repeated or prolonged instances or multiple forms of interpersonal trauma, often occurring under circumstances where escape is not possible due to physical, psychological, maturational, family/environmental, or social constraints.”
But I wish the examples of stressors included “intentional psychological or emotional manipulation by a personality disordered individual.”
What’s your experience?
Lovefraud would like to collect some information on the topic of PTSD, sociopaths and court. If you’ve experienced this situation, please share what happened. For your own protection do not include any names, locations or other details that may identify you.
Here are some questions to answer in a comment:
- Do you feel like, because of your experience with a sociopath, you have symptoms that meet the definition of complex PTSD?
- If you had to go to court for any reason because of your experience with the sociopath, how did it go?
- Did you become symptomatic in court, or try to explain your symptoms?
- What was the response of the judge, court officials or attorneys?
I hope that with this preliminary information, we can design a formal survey to collect reliable data about this situation.