Connie, a former elementary school teacher from Philadelphia, PA, was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder two years after her husband viciously assaulted her. Minutes after leaving her with a broken finger, a cervical spine injury, and a concussion, he then threatened to jump off the roof of his mother’s house. Connie had him hospitalized and cared for him for six months.
Before the attack, which was the culmination of a series of mental and physical assaults, Connie had been outgoing and social. In addition to teaching, she worked as a professional entertainer, touring nationally in musical productions. She was starting to work in TV and movies. She also wrote a weekly entertainment column in her local newspaper and was about to start a master’s program in education.
For two years, Connie was in denial that she had been the victim of domestic abuse. After suffering from panic attacks, severe depression, and short-term memory loss, she sought medical help at the urging of friends. She also went on disability because of her mental and physical injuries.
At the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, Connie underwent Prolonged Exposure Therapy, which involves recalling the memory at will and reliving it. During the recall, Connie learned tools to cope with the fear. The tools, which Connie still uses every day, have helped her regain control and confidence.
Connie has finished her PTSD therapy and is now divorced from her husband. She is working on healing herself and restoring her life. After the trauma of divorce and processing what has happened to her, she is now experiencing a depressive phase for which she is seeking treatment. She still suffers from the physical effects of her abuse with severe spinal cord impingement.
Connie maintains a positive outlook on life, gathering strength from her strong Christian faith, her friends, her cat Sweetie, and her love of music and dance. She is staying focused on love and forgiveness instead of vengeance. An avid writer, she is hoping to document what happened to her to help other women. She recently completed domestic violence advocacy training and hopes to use this education to speak out about domestic violence, prevent abuse from happening, and help women who are experiencing it. She also hopes to use broadcast media as a way of educating other women about domestic violence.