The earliest jolts of trauma in childhood can last for a lifetime, unless help is offered and embraced.
Patricia “Trisha” Munz said she was sexually molested when she was 6 years old. She said her mom used to blame her for the abuse, so she grew up believing it was her fault.
“I hated myself because of this one event,” Munz said.
At age 10 her grandmother adopted her and took her to a counselor, who diagnosed her with post traumatic stress disorder. Yet her self-blaming followed her through adolescence, and she fell into abusive relationships.
Munz said she began smoking marijuana at age 12 and later began taking harder drugs like cocaine. At age 15 she left home.
“As I got older, in relationships I’d be with guys who would beat me, get me high and sexually abuse me,” Munz said. “I always blamed it on myself and thought everything that happened was my fault.”
Munz was convicted of robbery with a weapon twice in 2005 and 2006 and sentenced to prison.
Munz said she didn’t realize she had a serious mental disorder until fall 2013, when she began participating in cognitive processing therapy at Women in Recovery, a Tulsa diversion program.
Now, she no longer gets startled easily or has nightmares. She also doesn’t need medication for anxiety. As part of her therapy, she wrote down what she has control over, what is her fault and what she can do to change her thinking.
“I realized I never had control over what happened to me as a child,” Munz said. “I have control over what happens me today.”
Munz said she couldn’t have recovered as well in prison because she wasn’t yet committed to breaking her drug addiction. Court records show she was accused of probation violations starting in 2012. When she was diverted to the Women in Recovery program, she realized she needed to change.
“If I’d gone back to prison, I’d most likely be dead, the way I was going.”