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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Contact – a view from the trenches

Been extremely busy recently with both work and family and haven’t had much time to spend on the blog. Apologies for that. Hopefully normal service will resume.

Now that I am back in Belfast, my phone and Inbox are filling up with the ‘same old same old’ of hard done by stories about the Magistrates Courts in Omagh, Belfast, Ards and Ballymena. Nothing new there.

One interesting case involves a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who has been seeing their child in a contact centre for TWO YEARS. Can you imagine that…. TWO YEARS of not being able to take your child out of the building; TWO YEARS of not having them stay over; TWO YEARS in the one place. I really feel for this person and their child.

“Well” you might say, “this person must be a risk to their child to be treated in such a way, and the court is merely acting in the best interests of the child”. Well, you would be wrong. The court is merely showing it’s ignorance of PTSD as it isn’t relying on any thing other than the parent supposedly being at risk of abducting their child DUE to the parent’s PTSD.

As I didn’t know that much about the condition I went along to a conference and really got my eyes open as to who might have PTSD in the community, how they might acquire it and how it might be treated.

It was brought to my attention that as well as the obvious candidates of people involved in car accidents, victims and witnesses of physical or sexual assault, first responders and the military, even people such as secretaries typing up reports of traumatic events might acquire PTSD. Wow, there is a potential lawyer feeding frenzy for you; a circumvention of the nervous shock restrictions…

If only some of the judiciary had been at the seminar to hear a bit more about the condition. There were lots of doctors, nurses and people from the voluntary sector there and there was even a CPD point to be had. One thing there wasn’t was a lawyer in attendance. Or a social worker.

Maybe next time the organisers of such a valuable seminar might deign to have it in Belfast and during working hours so that the protectors of our fundamental freedoms can attend.

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