How would you know if someone you love suffers from PTSD?

Guest post by Philip Foley 

As a police officer in a major New Jersey city for 25 years, I met many victims of obvious trauma.  Many more were not so obvious.  Their trauma was a consequence of  covert and sustained violence revealed only in their eyes.  They were the mute, unseen victims of violence.

I met my wife when she was 17, in the early 60’s.  On the surface her family looked like any other regular middle class suburban family.  I didn’t know that she was suffering with severe PTSD, nor did she.  She buried what had happened to her “before us” and had no tools to even identify herself as a victim.  I couldn’t help—I didn’t know the “code.”

For thirty years her symptoms were there, only I attributed them to quirks: irrational fears I could not understand and she could not explain; panic attacks; unexplained emotional reactions after social gatherings; trouble sleeping.

Then the day came when my wife’s “before us” exploded into our lives.

Now 15 years later, both of us in our 60’s, we have a much greater understanding of how PTSD victims perceive the world around them.  Of how difficult it is for them to assign responsibility to those who failed to protect them.  And how by offering perspective, not advice you will greatly help a PTSD sufferer live a more fully realized life.

PTSD affects everyone connected to the victim.  There is no easy fix.  But with love, true support and time, victims can integrate the “them before trauma” and the “them after trauma” and become whole and truly enjoy a full and happy life.

My wife’s book, “Woman In Hiding, A True Tale of Back Door Abuse, Dark Secrets and Other Evil Deeds” describes her journey from brokenness to understanding and into wholeness.  It is our sincere hope that her words can transmute her ordeal into education for professionals and validation and understanding for women suffering—unseen and unheard—from trauma they cannot and dare not name.

Additionally; we offer a Social Arts Project “Silenced Women Speak” for victims to express their experience in art or verse.

For more information on my wife’s book and the Social Arts Project please visit  or contact us at [email protected]

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.



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