View Full Version : Emotional trauma from murder in self-defense. Emotional help.

12-05-2014, 10:11 PM
Sort of a delicate topic for some people I know.

But I was wondering on the aftermath and emotional problems both immediate and short/long term in this case.

The characters:

Character 1 is experienced in both fighting and killing, though he's not a sociopath he can see the difference between killing in cold blood and kill or be killed. Not that he doesn't occasionally hire out but he has self imposed rules he follows when he does that. He has his own coping methods and everything to keep the self destructiveness to a minimum.

Character 2 has experienced violence only in the abstract. Something happened to a friend or she heard about something in the paper or the news etc. but hasn't experienced anything firsthand beyond the basic cruelty of teenage kids at school. She's aware that violence exists but she's still got the 'it won't happen to me' mentality.

Situation: fight between two factions. Char 1&2 on one side and other people on the other side. Char1 fails to notice the person coming up behind him with intent to stabby stabby him to death. Char2 does notice because she's been mostly trying to keep the hell out of the way and avoid being stabbed. Char2 moves in defense of char1 and stabs randomAssailant somewheres important and he does the whole dying thing, taking the blade Char2 uses with him. Factions separate with the death and the other group takes off not wanting to deal with legal stuff. Fight is now over. Char1 has injuries but none serious, Char2 is mostly uninjured due to having tried to avoid getting into it. Law enforcement is on their way. The case is clear self defense.

Questions: what would be the emotional state of Char2 in those moments between stepping in to defend char1 from certain death and when the body hits the floor? What about after the fight's over? How would adrenaline play into it? What about fear response? Horror at what she's done? Anger? Desperation? What other emotions would go through her head?

Would there be denial?

What about the more lasting effects? Flashbacks? Nightmares? Panic attacks? What would trigger these effects? Would there even be triggers?

What steps would be taken to get through it the effects? (Professional psychiatric help and medical help is not available)

What kind of converasation would be held immediately after? Would it be more damage control or working out the emotional aspect or pretending it didn't happen until it was safe to deal with it?

What about lack of emotion? Shock? Suspended disbelief? Disassociation? How does one even write for disassociation anyway?

Would suicidal thoughts occur? Would they be an early thing or occur later?

Anything else you can think of?

12-05-2014, 11:13 PM
A good book for you to look at is On Killing by Dave Grossman. Or, by the proper title "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society".

Do a google search on soldiers and thier stories about being in combat and you'll find there is no one answer that you seek since everyone reacts differently.

12-05-2014, 11:38 PM
I was involved with a self-defense killing, although I wasn't the one who pulled the trigger (I guess I'd be character A only without the fight leading up to it).

During the initial aftermath, we were on autopilot. I guess maybe we were in shock, because the emotions didn't hit until much later. The police took me and Character B in for questioning and confiscated the weapon as evidence. Your character won't be getting that knife back (assuming she even wants it). Additionally, there's that awful time between when things calm down and the police arrive. It's just you guys and the deceased. For the first few moments, I had to choke back an irrational urge to flee the scene. Legally we were fine, but flight or fight takes a bit to go away even after the threat is gone. Character B had medical training and did what he could to save the guy while I noticed a woman peeking out her front door and hollered at her to call the police. (I was standing guard in case the deceased's confederate decided to come back).

Character B took it very hard. He dwelled on it constantly and took to scouring the news and internet for every mention of the event, which was highly publicized. He read all the criticisms in the comments sections and took every word to heart. We were both amazed at the way the press seemed to get every single detail completely wrong. We didn't try to correct them, though. After we left the police station that night we agreed that neither of us would talk to the press. Both the cops and the press dubbed Character B a "hero." (Literally. The cops put him in the back of the squad car until they sorted out what had happened. Once they got the details they told him to ride up front because he was a hero). However, neither of us felt that a man's death was something to celebrate, regardless of the circumstances. If we cooperated with the media, it would have come across that way.

The worst was when, about a month later, they finally managed to identify the deceased. Turns out he had a 3-year-old daughter. It was as clear-cut a case of self-defense imaginable, but Character B couldn't stop thinking about how that little girl's daddy didn't come home that night and it was all his fault.

Additionally, although there were no criminal charges, we had to worry for a long time about whether the deceased's family would file a civil suit. They wouldn't have won because they would have had to prove Character B was the aggressor (which he absolutely wasn't), but the thought of having to defend ourselves in court and relive the incident in tremendous detail was horrible. Luckily, that never came to pass.

He was in a funk long-term, full-on depression, long after the media moved on to the next thing. I purposely fell out of touch with him about six months after the incident. Seeing me just made things worse. I don't know how long it took him to return to some semblance of normal.

I was seriously jumpy and twitchy, half-afraid to leave the house, for about a year afterward myself.

12-06-2014, 12:23 AM
I'm probably picking at nits here, but murder can't be done in self-defense. Homicide can be, but not murder. All murders are homicides. Not all homicides are murder (http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/eric-garners-death-was-a-homicide-but-he-was-not-murdered/).

Tazima gave a great example, really. Hope you've recovered as much as you can from that. Really, there's no one way people are going to respond to something like this. It's going to vary widely.

-What caused the fight? Was it over something stupid, or Something Big? Can see a lot of anger at the aggressor if it was something small or stupid.
-How emotionally close was Char 2 is to the person they killed?
-How "human" the dead person becomes later. Did he have family? Was he supporting his grandmother?
-How does Char 1 respond to Char 2? Does C2 get a "thanks for saving my life" or does C1 ignore the whole thing?
-How emotionally close were C1 and C2 prior to this? Did C2 save her best friend, her lover, or just a guy she knows?

12-06-2014, 03:11 PM

This is the second thread in a very short space of time where the word murder is bandied around as if its meaning is not known.

Murder is the unlawful premeditated killing of one person by another.

It's never an accidental event.