There were two traumas that destroyed my psyche two decades ago – the loss of my older sister and the outrageous trial that followed.
We will never get over the loss of Nicole, but I could have emerged much less traumatized by the trial if I had excellent counselors who understood what we were going through.
But it was a different time. Everybody, including myself, was too focused on the Trial of the Century. There had never been this big of a trial before. The government wasn’t prepared to deal with all of the defense team’s maneuvers and antics—much less the crisis’s impact on the victims’ families.
Through the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, my family was assigned a victim-witness advocate who was compassionate beyond belief and who played a crucial role for my family during the court day. He escorted us from the DA’s office to the courtroom, protected us from the prying media, helped us understand the system and provided us with community referrals and counselors who could help us heal.
Trials are very dynamic and it is a different type of exhaustion. In fact, it can be a greater exhaustion than the crime itself because you are trying to understand something so foreign and confusing in the midst of your emotions. You are so emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically fatigued that even trying to comprehend the system can become incredibly overwhelming.
So, the advocate took that pressure from us and helped us navigate through the chaos of the Trial of The Century. I truly am so grateful to him. He is still in my heart.
However, looking back now, two decades later, there was something missing: A friend, a liaison, a coach.
I needed alternative means of support beyond our court advocate – someone to help me transition from a day of court proceedings to my regular routine in my personal and professional life.
Sure, the DA’s Victim Witness Program gave me a referral for a local therapist, but the counselor was more focused on the case and my sister’s children – the youngest survivors of the victims – than on my mind and all the pain that occupied it.
That neglect left me disenfranchised with therapists in general. So when the trial ended, I never reached out to anyone. I held everything in.
That didn’t work out too well.
As I documented last year in my book, Finding Peace Amid The Chaos, because I had no skills to manage the chaos, depression, anger, and hate that festered inside of me, I wound up for several days as a psych patient in the local hospital.
It sounds rough, but that was a key turnaround point. I finally started learning how to deal with my pain.
In the months and years that followed, I kept learning about counseling and psychology until I found myself with a graduate degree in counseling psychology, although my life experiences have given me far better training to help people in crisis than any degree on my wall.
Today, as a speaker, coach, author and member of the Cavalry PR Crisis Management Team, I make up for the wrongs of the past. Where there are murder cases that are so high-profile and chaotic that the victims have no one in their corner who truly understands what they’re going through and who truly knows how to help, know that I am here. And I am with you.