Attack in the Night: The Aftermath

The Aftermath

Billy says, "[Greg and Estela's family] were the quintessential American family. They had everything. They had the great house, three beautiful kids. They were saving for retirement. They were doing all the things I think every American family dreams of, and Greg and Estela were very happy with the track that their lives were on. And now everything that they've ever worked to achieve has now been taken away from them. It's very similar to a bomb exploding in the middle of their life."

And the "bomb" didn't just affect one family. The psychological shock wave is being felt throughout the entire neighborhood.

"We live down the street and around the corner from [Greg and Estela]," explains Flo. "My husband called me and he said, ‘I have a tool missing in the garage. The hatchet hammer.' And I noticed that the
gate was open. My husband and I thought some kids had broken in." When they learned what happened to their neighbors, they realized that the intruder got his weapon from their garage. 

After his hospital stay, while recovering at home, Greg had a seizure in front of his children. Now he's on seizure control
medication and he's no longer allowed to drive.

"I can't sleep. I don't want to be alone. I want to get a dog and I want to get a gun," Estela says. "I'm just breaking into little pieces … I'm just so afraid. I'm not safe anywhere, anywhere."

Dr. Phil addresses Estela's debilitating fear. "You know and I know that in here, you are not the same," he says, pointing to her heart. 

"I'm not the same," she agrees.

"That you cry in the shower at night," he says. 

"Yes, I do," Estela says.

"You know that you are changed. That every sense of joy you have has been driven down. Every noise you hear, every person you see of even a remote description could be him," says Dr. Phil.

"That's correct," she says. 

Greg and Estela have no idea why they were the target of such violence, and they worry that the attacker will return. "That's my question every night," says Estela. "He's going to come back and finish the job. No matter where we are, that's my feeling every night."

Dr. Phil asks, "But isn't there a part of you that says, ‘We're still here and you're not going to take our life away, you're not going to ruin the joy in my children's mother, and you're not going to drive us from our home'? Isn't there a part of you that says, ‘You will not destroy our joy, our hope, our happiness. You won't drive us out of our home'?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Well, he did because I'm afraid to go back to my own house," Estela says.

 

"Oh, but I've just gotten started with you," he tells her.

Greg, Estela and their family now move around, living in temporary places while they try to heal and figure out where to go next. Although some neighbors have cleaned their home, spackled the hatchet marks, and removed the blood-stained bed, it hasn't lessened the memory of what happened, and Estela fears returning to their home at night. 

"What if I said that what you're experiencing right now is normal and natural, and to be expected, but will not go away on its own?" Dr. Phil asks. "You're experiencing trauma, you're still somewhat in shock, and you're experiencing what is commonly referred to as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It has
to be dealt with specifically. And what if I said I understand that and I'm going to get you the help to get that done?"

"I will be open because my kids want to go back," Estela says. "It's their home."

"Well, you know when the hardest time to go back in that house at night is? The first time. Once you've done it the first time, then we're on the path, we're on the trail," says Dr. Phil. "Will you let me take both of you back in that house tonight?"

Estela looks at her husband, then back at Dr. Phil.

"Let's go take your house back. I want to go in there, all of us go in there together," he tells her. "I'm not asking you to move back in there yet. It's a process, but the first step is the hardest. And I'm here, I want to take it with you."

"OK, yeah. Let's try," she agrees.