For the joy of her family and her fans across the country, Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old girl who has been missing since October 15, was found alive Thursday night.
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A police car blocks the road where teenager Jayme Closs was found on January 11, 2019 in Gordon, Wisconsin.
Three months ago, she was reported missing after her parents were shot at their home in Barron, Wisconsin. But Thursday night, she approached a dog walker in the street, in the small town of Gordon, about 70 miles and an hour from home, to ask for help.
At a press conference, Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald of Barron County spoke about 13-year-old Jayme Closs, missing in Barron, Wisconsin, on October 17, 2018.
A suspect, James Thomas Patterson, in a neighboring house, was arrested shortly after the arrival of the police on the scene. The next day, he was charged with first degree murder and kidnapping, authorities said.
The teenager is currently stable and is treated at the hospital before being reunited with the rest of her family.
Road to recovery
Closs is facing acute treatment and long-term treatment while she is recovering from the painful events of the last 88 days.
At this point, there is little information about what she has endured after her abduction. However, we know that most abduction survivors are severely traumatized. On a medical level, during acute hospitalization, the treatment team will have to evaluate it for signs of bodily harm or malnutrition.
One expects her to go through a lot of grief and, after what she has experienced, she runs a very high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). ).
Elizabeth Smart arrives for a press conference on September 13, 2018 in Salt Lake City.
Elizabeth Smart, another survivor of the abduction who was barely 14 years old when she was taken from her home in 2002, wrote Friday morning on her Instagram account that she hoped "we could all continue to support Jayme, both for her to resume her life and that she is reconciled with the reality of her situation. "
"No matter what happens in her story, let's all remember that this young woman has survived," she wrote.
Coping with trauma
It is important for Closs to be confronted with the traumatic events it has experienced. Often, when traumatic events occur, the mind tends to try to avoid memories.
Avoidance can however do more harm than good.
Research has shown that those who accept what has happened to them and who go through these memories and their emotional reaction to them are more likely to recover. This should be in the context of treatment with a qualified therapist, however.
It is therefore important that she is not obliged to repeat the events, as this can cause a lot of stress to the brain.
"Respect your privacy," says Dr. Brad Foote, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Montefiore Medical Center. "Do not assume that she necessarily wants to talk about it right now or that it would be good for her.
"Try letting her resume a normal life at her own pace," Foote added.
It is true that there is still a lot of speculation when people experience such events, even if all the facts surrounding the situation are not known. Even though it's not confirmed that she was home when her parents were killed, we at least know that she lost her parents in a tragic situation.
Just this loss itself is painful enough. Bethany Brand, a professor of psychology at Townson University and expert in trauma disorders, said, "When a person experiences such horrible events, she may feel a sense of helplessness and loss of control. She must have the feeling of controlling her life. "
"It can be counterproductive or even damaging if people do not respect their privacy," said Brand.
She added that Closs must follow his own pace and easily expose himself to people, experiences and situations "somewhat evocative of the event".
"Survivors of trauma can have trouble sleeping because they feel they are losing control when they lose consciousness while they sleep," Brand continued. "Flashbacks can give the impression that the situation is happening again. It's almost like watching a movie about events in your mind. Reliving the trauma can therefore help to create symptoms. "
According to the brand, in addition to treatment, some medications help treat symptoms of PTSD, including flashbacks.
An undated photo published by the FBI shows Jayme Closs, 13, missing in Barron, Wisconsin since October 2018.
Social support is crucial when healing a trauma.
Even though Closs lost her parents, she is surrounded by very enthusiastic parents, which will be invaluable for her recovery.
"The support on the part of the family who is willing to be present unconditionally with one person and to learn more about the symptoms of PTSD, despite their emotional problems, has proven to be very effective. Says Lynn Quackenbush, registered social worker at the Menninger Clinic. with over 30 years of experience in treating victims of similar events. "She will have to learn to trust again. Everything she trusted was upset by this trauma. "
Back to school
Schools must accommodate trauma victims and cope with them during their slow reintegration.
In the long term, trauma can affect a person's ability to concentrate and learn, and survivors may have difficulty getting to school. Children and adolescents are particularly inclined to manifest this because their mind is still developing.
When children are filled with fear and anxious to protect themselves, stress hormones such as cortisol in the body increase and learning and memory can suffer. It becomes difficult to process new information when a person focuses on survival.
the National Survey of Children's Health reported that 50% of American children experienced "at least one or more types of serious childhood trauma".
Hope, joy and resilience
Despite the horrible situation in which she lived, the trauma is treatable.
Often, when abduction survivors talk about their experiences, years later, they speak of hope, joy and resilience. Once they are finally safe and surrounded by loved ones, the chances of recovery can be good.
It takes time and work with accredited experts, but the fact that Jayme Closs is already receiving treatment is promising.
Azka Afzal, MD, is resident physician in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and is a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.