The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker overcomes challenging trauma

By Remy Mccool/reporter

Anybody can be faced with trauma, a family law mediator said Oct. 22.

Jennifer Caldwell, director of Trauma Support Services of North Texas, spoke to NE students about enduring a traumatic event and life afterward.

“Bad things happen in every life,” she said. “We don’t get to control those necessarily, but we can make steps to hopefully live with them.”

On April 15, 1995, as she slept alone in her apartment, Caldwell was awakened by a man on top of her with a knife to her throat. She managed to throw the attacker off as she fought with him for the knife. He then dragged her into her bathroom and ordered her to stay there. After some time of silence, Caldwell left the bathroom to retrieve her cell phone and call the police. She suffered several injuries.

“My throat had been slit, and I had been cut from my cheekbone all the way down through the base of my throat,” she said.

Caldwell’s attacker, Bryan Wayne Gibson, a security guard for the apartment in which she lived, was caught that night and later sentenced to 20 years in prison. Gibson will also be a registered sex offender for the remainder of his life.

Caldwell described overcoming her experience.

“It’s the afterward that is so debilitating for most people,” she said.

What helped Caldwell most during the first years following her attack was the pride she felt knowing she fought back. She had always mentally been prepared for such an event given that it had been one of her biggest fears. She suggested students do the same.

“What is your response going to be?” she said. “How are you going to look for your safest way out so you don’t panic?”

Having a cell phone, closing the garage door upon entering and keeping doors locked are measures people can take to protect themselves, Caldwell said.

“If we can make smart decisions every day, we help protect ourselves,” she said.

Caldwell recommended students consider what they would do in specific traumatic events, such as a car wreck, a mugging or a sexual assault.

Deciding how to handle these events beforehand can help someone not only survive but also keep the event from consuming the rest of one’s life.

“I’ve seen too many people who are defined by their trauma,” she said.

TCC police officer Rose Brant, herself a survivor of childhood sexual assault, discussed TCC’s Victim Assistance Unit.

“Mostly, we are here to try to lessen the trauma of a traumatizing experience of being a crime victim,” she said.

Victim Assistance can help students who have been crime victims by providing an escort, helping them change schedules or teaching students about crime victim compensation.

Students can also opt to not file a police report and still receive assistance.

“Don’t think that it has to be a very violent crime,” she said.

Brant encouraged students to not hesitate to seek help whether the situation was a one-time act of violence or something that has continued for years.

Students can find more information regarding Victim Assistance online at TCC’s police department page or call 817-515-8911.

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