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Dealing with anxiety after attempted abduction

(6 Posts)
sammyheart2hart Mon 09-Nov-15 12:09:21

Six months ago a man tried to abduct my 4 (almost 5) year old son at our local park. I was talking to another mum whilst our kids played just a few feet away in the trees and shrubbery at the side of the slide. My son and his friend came running out to say that a man had taken picture of them on his phone and asked them to go home with him. There is a fence behind the shrubbery which cordons off a field. So,the man had been able to sneak up to the boys and take advantage of our distraction. Thank god my son had the sense to realise he was in danger and I have been very angry with myself ever since. I found out that it had happened before to other children and despite them all giving the same physical description, the police can't find the man. Ever since then, I have suffered with terrible anxiety and get really worried in social situations with my children when I am on my own. For example, if we are in a crowded place or a party I can't relax and watch their every movement. If we go to a restaurant I feel really panicky if they raise their voices and people start giving me disapproving looks. I never used to worry about what other people think, but now, my heart literally starts thumping and I go cold and tense, sometimes panting like I'm out of breath. The kids are actually very well behaved and I teach them how to act in public. They are just normal kids. As I write this I feel really daft. My head is saying "Get a grip woman!" Well, yesterday was the worst experience EVER. My Husband was working and I took the kids to the shopping centre to get some bits and pieces for school. My daughter was complaining that her belly was aching so we cut the trip short but as we walked out, there was hundreds of people surrounding the exit. My husband dropped us off at the underground car park so I didn't realise that the remembrance parade was out on the square. All four exits were filled with bystanders and service people. I immediately started to panic because there was no pathway for me to leave without passing through the very still and attentive crowd. I enjoy participating in these events but with a 4 and 3 year old in tow I knew we would draw attention to ourselves. I decided to stand and listen with everyone else. A member of the RBL was delivering a very moving speech and every one was silently listening. My daughter started complaining about her tummy again and getting upset and my son started to get restless and move around and I whispered to them to be quiet and started to get stern looks. Well the panic started and I felt sick and shivery and out of breath. I thought about backtracking through the shopping centre and finding another exit at the back but the town centre is designed in such a way, that you are forced to cut through the square and most people drive because its a nightmare getting from one side of town to the other on foot. I couldn't possibly stand there for another 30 minutes with my daughter feeling sick and me feeling like a nervous wreck.So, I made the controversial choice of walking through the crowd to make my escape. The kids were silent but never the less, it was the walk of shame. Lots of people looking at me with disgust and a woman angrily said loudly to me "What a lack of respect!" I would normally explain myself but I didn't want to cause a scene and I was carrying my daughter in my arms. Needless to say I was mortified and I keep going over the situation in m head. I am not a disrespectful person at all. I just panicked and couldn't handle the situation. I feel really down about it. My husband doesn't understand why I am taking it to heart, but I feel like I've done a terrible thing and dishonored all those brave soldiers who fought in the war. I keep thinking what could I have done differently? How do I get over this anxiety and back to my old self? I miss the me that couldn't care less, stood up for herself and had a witty remark for everything. Sorry for the long story. I'm just tired of bottling it all up.

TheWordOfBagheera Mon 09-Nov-15 12:57:07

How truly awful for you OP flowers.

Have you talked to your GP (or anyone else) about possible PTSD?

TheWordOfBagheera Mon 09-Nov-15 12:59:43

(and don't worry about the judgy comments and looks, you did what you had to. It was nothing to do with them and wasn't disrespectful)

Polyethyl Mon 09-Nov-15 13:05:55

I'm struggling to understand how anyone could think that leaving a Remembrance parade because you have two restless small children is disrespectful?! It would have been worse to have stayed with your childrens' noise creating a distraction. I assume you didn't walk straight through a marching parade, but instead walked quietly away through the crowd. People are weird. Quite simply the account you have given of events - you were not disrespectful.

BertieBotts Mon 09-Nov-15 13:17:34

Oh no, that sounds like a horrible experience sad The attempted abduction must have been so frightening.

I don't see what you could have done differently with the parade. It was unfortunate but you didn't actually do anything wrong. Perhaps it would have been okay to say "I'm very sorry, excuse me, my daughter feels unwell" - but honestly I don't think you caused any dishonour. Surely an adult carrying a child clearly old enough to walk is a sign that something is out of the ordinary. flowers

I agree with seeing the GP. The fear of losing a child is SO primal that anything which comes close to threatening that is bound to have an effect on you. PTSD or something like that could definitely be a factor especially if you've felt that it's totally affected your entire demeanour.

changename54 Mon 09-Nov-15 13:58:59

I had a very similar experience with my DS several years ago.

What I would say is that you shouldn't feel angry with yourself, you should feel PROUD. Unfortunately, none of us can stop bad things happening to our DCs, but we can give them the skills to deal with the bad things when they happen. You did exactly that. Your DS, even though he's only young, knew he shouldn't go off with the man and came back to tell you what had happened. Big pat on the back for you and your son!! It's really important that DCs know it's OK to say "no" to adults if they feel uncomfortable, and you've obviously done a great job in building up your DS' self-esteem so that he was able to get himself out the situation.

Secondly, six months is a really short time, so be kind to yourself. I think it took me a good 18 months to stop crying myself to sleep at night.

Thirdly, I don't think you disrespected the soldiers by your actions at all. I think you did exactly the right thing, given the situation you were in. If I'd been in the crowd, I'd have seen you leaving with two small children and just assumed you were dealing with something to do with them. I wouldn't have been offended at all.

Do go and get some help if you need it. I downloaded a lot to friends, but a counsellor might help too?

FWIW my DS is now 16 and this summer flew by himself to Africa to work for a charity in an extremely remote area (no running water, no mobile phone access etc). Even now I worry about him, but I've never wanted what happened to restrict his life in any way.

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