I am dazed and I guess in a state of shock over the news of Susanne Preusker’s passing. (she decided to end her life on February 13th 2018). Before I carry on I must issue another strong trigger warning especially to victims of sexual harrassment and/or sexual violence. I am writing this in order to honor Mrs. Preusker’s incredible accomplishments in dealing with the outcomes of major trauma. It is also an attempt for me to come to terms with her decision to end her life. I guess, I really am in shock and devastated over this turn of her journey.
I came across her story some four or five years ago when grabbing a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room to pass the time until I’d get called into his office. I don’t recall exactly what it was that made me pick this particular article. All I remember is that only a few lines into it my attention was completely fixated on the story at hand as I knew right there what this was going to be about: Trauma and its multifaceted results. (and I guess in retrospect I was longing for hearing about others, thus hoping to come tobetter terms with my own history)
Mrs. Preusker had been the leading psychologist at a major state penitentiary in Bavaria, Germany, working with some of the most dangerous criminals there are: Murderers and perpetrators of sexual violence. On the day that her ordeal was about to happen she was in great spirits, looking forward to getting married in about 10 days and determined to end the day a little early. One of her “clients” asks for an impromptu appointment with her, which she agrees to.
Her “client” is a convicted perpetrator of sexual violence and a murderer. She has been working with him for four years and generally attests to a bright outlook for her client believing that her work with him has “fixed” him and allows for him getting rehabilitated. Unfortunately, her assessment turns out to be completely wrong as he relapses into his violent behaviour with her right after entering her office. It takes seven neverending hours until corrections officers manage to regain control over the situation and liberate Mrs. Preusker from the brutality of her attacker.
Following these horrific experiences Mrs. Preusker (naturally) becomes unable to continue working in her former position. She develops severe PTSD in the aftermath and takes years to return to a semblance of a life that might appear “normal” on the outside and to the unassuming observer. However, her strength in confronting her perpetrator in court as well as her unrelenting stance of not letting him get away with half-assed, mumbled excuses and in addition to all that her courage to publish her story in a book ultimately sees her accomplish an incredible post-traumatic growth (or so I thought). Overcoming triggers one by one, reclaiming an ever-growing space of independence and autonomy, sticking to her truth while slowly allowing herself to become vulnerable again – she did it all. If I had to put her post-trauma story into a nutshell, I’d have to call her the “poster”-lady of post-traumatic growth for want of a better expression.
It devastated me to learn of her decision today to end her life a few days ago. I chose to post this as there is literally no information available on her in English and to honor her accomplishments and contributions to raising awareness regarding the challenges a person living with (C-) PTSD has to deal with. My heart goes out to her husband and son, whose incredibly sensitive and intuitive way of supporting her healing are no less impressive. R.I.P., Susanne Preusker.
P.S. I feel compelled to add this as going over above blog entry has me fear that some readers might succumb to another wave of feelings of hopelessness as her story might invoke a sense of despair in so much as the condition seems impossible to overcome. And yes, agreed, I’ve felt that way myself many times and I have a very hard time not to concede to the grim perspective that another tragic fall of one of our fellow soujourners seems to paint. But on the other hand I have been following the work of Maps.org, in particular all their trials and studies investigating the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances coupled with heavy-duty psychotherapy and particularly where they focus on the healing potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients suffering from (C-) PTSD. Even more specifically this interview/podcast with the now near-famous Rachel Hope on Amber Lyon’s Reset.Me instilled the firm conviction in me that there are modalities out there – and in the progress of being developed as standard therapy – that actually remove the condition and its outcomes from a person who had very unfortuntate experiences happen to them. In other words I guess I am trying to say: Do not despair! We’ve come this far. It’s only going to be another very few number of years until this kind of help will be available in a standard clinical or outpatient setting. Myself, I’ve been living with the outcomes of PTSD for 53 years and it’s taken away everything from me! (But I’m still here and willing to fight and keep looking for relief until I take my last breath). Do not despair. Please. Thank you.