Helen Thomas is a practicing psychologist and emerging author. Her extensive work within the criminal justice system and child protection space has led to a deep interest in complex trauma. Helen is in the process of writing a work of fiction exploring complex trauma and the impact on survivors’ life trajectories and relationships. She has previously participated in the Writers Victoria ‘Cells for Writers’ program, writing from a cell at the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Intergenerational Trauma in Five Parts

The nightmares ravaged him. Flashbacks and macabre dreamscapes melded into an unbearable spectre. The baby’s cry sounded like an alarm. He woke in terror, soaked in cold sweat. Stranger-wife in the spare room again. Body tensed. Brain on fire. He stood over the cot, paralysed, unable to touch. Her cries became louder. Red contorted face, limbs flailing. He retreated and stumbled his way to the garage. Gun in his hand, bullets already loaded in readiness. Hard, cold steel. This was best for everyone. He turned it towards himself and noted once more how steady his hand was as he prepared to take a life. Oblivion.

Front door slam. He would be on the way to the pub to douse his rage. Silence billowed. She stayed where she was, cold lino under bare legs, and tried to still her body. A throbbing ache in her jaw began to reveal itself. She was suddenly aware of the boy’s quiet presence, watching her. If she kept her eyes closed it would be ok. He was a good boy. He knew to stay away until later. She let herself unhook from her body and float. Oblivion.

Shame twisted and writhed like an eel beneath his rib cage, joining the fear that always lurked. His daughter’s 5th birthday. A spark of guilt flicked away. This was a day of celebration! At least he wasn’t loud and violent like his old man. Flame. Spoon. Liquid bubbling. His heart leapt in anticipation. Thrumming heartbeat, trembling fingers. Needle in. Clothed in safety, peace and love. Sweet, warm relief. Oblivion.

Locked up. Again. Doing head miles. So many of the other girls slept to trick time. But, for her, sleep was tumultuous. Her dreams were crowded, filled with casts of unknown people. She knew it was the new meds. Another attempt to make her ‘compliant’. The taut hypervigilance she maintained during the day stretched through the night. Until last night. A lone man entered her dream. Nameless and faceless. Young and strong. Without words, he wrapped her in a tight, full embrace; enveloping her in safety, peace and love. It crossed the filmy barrier between subconscious and conscious. Calm. Oblivion.