Paralyzed by Fear: Shelita

Trapped in the Aftermath of Trauma

Shelita describes the day she and her family were terrorized by three intruders.

 

"I heard my mom screaming. Something was wrong. I ran out of the bathroom. I still hadn't had the chance to pull my underwear up. I came into the room, and I saw the guy pointing a gun at my mom. He pointed the gun at my daughter, and he put the gun at my temple. He started pressing the gun harder into my head, and he started saying, ‘Where's the money? Where's the money?' I was trying to pull my underwear up. He just kept saying, ‘Don't move. Don't move.' He spun me around out of the kitchen and started dragging me into the den, and I saw another guy in my hallway. I kept telling him, ‘Don't kill me. Don't kill me,'" Shelita recalls. "It was like I came out of my body, and I saw myself lying in my foyer in a pool of blood. That's when I saw guy number three. He put his hand on the back of my head and tried to slam my face down into the glass table, and he just ran out. I never saw the other two guys leave the house."

 

The horrific ordeal plays out over and over in Shelita's mind. "Why point the gun at my daughter? She's 3. That kind of torments me. I just want to know why," she says, wiping away tears. 

 

Shelita now must cope with the aftermath of the brutal home invasion, which includes feeling insecure and terrified in her own home. Despite her husband, Royce's, attempts to make her feel safe, Shelita still feels scared.

 

"My sense of security in my home is pretty much gone. I constantly check the alarm system. I always walk to the window to see if anybody's outside. I can't take showers longer than two minutes without visualizing somebody opening up the shower shooting me," she shares. "I'm constantly paralyzed with fear, because I'm scared somebody's going to kill me. I'm scared the guys are going to come back. It's hard to function in this house. I don't want to live here. It feels dirty to me ... I want to stop being afraid all the time. If I just got out of this house, I would feel better."

 

While Shelita wants to move out of her home, Royce feels differently.

[AD]"To see my wife so scared enrages me. Everything about this situation enrages me. I've got my wife not feeling comfortable in her own house," he says. "My wife does want to move out of the house. I don't think that's the right thing to do. My thing is I don't want to run to another house. We have to move on with our lives."

 

Royce says their home life was good before this event. "We can't just let them dictate where we live, what we do," he says in a determined voice. "I don't want these cowards, basically, to run us out of our house."

"I can't find words to describe what you went through and how that must have felt," Dr. Phil tells Shelita. "Did you think you were going to be killed? Did you think your daughter was going to be killed?"

"I thought they were going to kill me," Shelita replies. "When I was standing in the kitchen and he initially put the gun to my head, I just felt like he was going to shoot me. He was jumping around the house like somebody in a boxing ring. His adrenaline was just flowing, and he was yelling."

With Shelita's permission, Dr. Phil plays the surveillance tape of the men entering her house, paying special attention to the screaming voices. Shelita's mother, Priscilla's, high-pitched screams rise above other sounds, followed by a baby's cry. When the tape ends, Dr. Phil asks Shelita, "How do you feel when you hear that?"

"It's like you feel lifeless, almost," she says.

The three alleged intruders have been arrested and are currently in jail. A surveillance video from Shelita and Royce's home captured their images, and they were caught when information about their whereabouts was reported to Crime Stoppers hotline. "The detective told me that they had so many phone calls pouring in after that video, it took them less than a month to find all three of them," Shelita reports.

"Do you have any idea why you were targeted?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I don't know why I was targeted. I don't if I was followed home," she replies.

Dr. Phil mentions that Shelita and Royce are both chiropractors, own a beautiful home and are high-profile in the community. "Could they have found you that way?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes," Shelita says. "We have two billboards up in the city."

"Have you returned to work?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I go sometimes," she says. 

Dr. Phil addresses Shelita and Priscilla, who sits in the audience. "Both of you are trying to be strong for the other one," he says. To Priscilla, he continues, "You're trying to put a face for her because you know she's unraveling, but the truth is, this got to you, didn't it?"

"Yes, it did," she replies. "I just want to scream, but I can't, because I feel like it won't do any good. Just to see the look on her face when they had the gun to her head, I can't get that out of my mind. I feel like I can't cry because I don't want her to see that I'm still afraid for her."

"That's not OK," Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil reads a list of Shelita's fearful behavior. She showers for only two minutes because she's afraid an intruder will enter the house if she's in the bathroom too long, she peeks out of the blinds to see if anyone is outside, she stays at the mall all day to avoid returning home, she cries in her car in the driveway, she leaves the TV on the surveillance channel all the time, and she only sleeps for an hour at a time at night. "When something has gotten to you to the point that you're going and staying at the mall all day or sitting in the driveway crying because you don't want to go inside, you know that's not OK, right?" he asks.

"Right," Shelita says, wiping away tears.

"We have to deal with that," Dr. Phil says.

 

Dr. Phil lists the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and says, ""You're kind of the poster-child here."