Coping With Trauma: A Decades-Long Fight - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Coping With Trauma: A Decades-Long Fight

POST FALLS, Wash – Every time Eric Haines of Post Falls sees a tragedy unfold in the headlines, like the massacre in Newtown, he panics.

That's because he knows what those kids will be going through 30 years from now.

He's one of them.

"I keep these articles hoping - doing everything I can to get through it, weed it out, try to make myself feel better," Haines said, sorting through newspaper articles in his Post Falls living room.

On July 19, 1981, when Haines was just 7 years old, he witnessed his grandmother's murder. 

It happened at his grandmother's house in New Mexico; he was there with his mother and 3-year-old sister when he says his mother's abuse ex-boyfriend, Alex Gonzales, came in armed with a gun.

He chased his mother around the house before she escaped over the fence in the backyard.

"I know he took at least one shot at her," he recalled.

But then, Gonzales came back inside with a new target: Eric's grandmother.

Haines remembers taking his little sister to hide, when he heard noises.  He said his grandmother made it to the kitchen and was trying to get a knife to defend herself, when he heard gunfire. 

"When she hit the floor, I was told I went and got a pillow and put her head under the pillow and sat there by her, and I couldn't help her I couldn't do anything," Haines recalled, tears coming to his eyes.  "I didn't have anybody to say, hey look, are you okay?"

As a little boy, Haines had to walk police through the house describing the horrific scene, and at just 8 years old, testified in Gonzales' trial.

"I remember looking at him, and he looked at me," he said.

Haines bottled up the pain and trauma of that day for decades.  He says his family never talked about it, and he never learned to process all he went through.  To this day, it's affecting his life as a husband and father.

"I blame myself that I could have done something, and the guilt - I know I couldn't have done anything but I still feel that way," Haines told KHQ.   "I have to deal with this because I've lost out on a lot of life."

Clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Van Wye told KHQ it's normal to have changes in your life after you've been through something traumatic.

"The first thing is to understand that what you've been through is very hard and you're going to have a reaction to it, and that's totally okay," she explained.

Dr. Van Wye said there are chemical changes that happen in the brain and body that can stay with you for months – even years.

"They may not be the same at work or at home, they probably don't sleep very well, they can be irritable or sad," she added.  "That doesn't mean anything's wrong, that's a normal response."

She says the most important thing to do is talk about what you've been through, even if you're not sure how you feel.

"The thing we know about people's reaction to a traumatic event is, often times they get better on their own," she explained.  "If you don't though, you're not going to get better on your own."

That's when you may need to call a psychologist, therapist or counselor to seek help, and Dr. Van Wye says it's never too late – even decades later.

"You can't ignore these traumas that these kids go through.  They have to be dealt with," Haines added.  "Don't let them do it by themselves.  Take me as an example."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • If you received an annoying robocall offering a free cruise, you might be entitled to at least $300, possibly $900

    If you received an annoying robocall offering a free cruise, you might be entitled to at least $300, possibly $900

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 4:18 PM EDT2017-08-16 20:18:16 GMT

    NEW YORK - Have you received an annoying robocall saying you won a free cruise? That phone call could get you up to $900 thanks for a recent class action lawsuit.  The lawsuit claims Resort Marketing Group (RMG), a third-party travel agency, made pre-recorded robocalls from July 2009 to March 2014 offering free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

    >>

    NEW YORK - Have you received an annoying robocall saying you won a free cruise? That phone call could get you up to $900 thanks for a recent class action lawsuit.  The lawsuit claims Resort Marketing Group (RMG), a third-party travel agency, made pre-recorded robocalls from July 2009 to March 2014 offering free cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

    >>
  • Juvenile arrested in downtown Spokane shooting

    Juvenile arrested in downtown Spokane shooting

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 6:23 PM EDT2017-08-16 22:23:57 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have arrested a juvenile in connection to a fatal shooting in downtown Spokane on Tuesday, according to our partners at The Spokesman Review.  The boy, whose name and age have not been released, is facing a charge of 2nd Degree Manslaughter.  Police believe the juvenile shot and killed a man inside a parked car near Washington and Spokane Falls Blvd.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have arrested a juvenile in connection to a fatal shooting in downtown Spokane on Tuesday, according to our partners at The Spokesman Review.  The boy, whose name and age have not been released, is facing a charge of 2nd Degree Manslaughter.  Police believe the juvenile shot and killed a man inside a parked car near Washington and Spokane Falls Blvd.

    >>
  • One person dead after shooting in downtown Spokane

    One person dead after shooting in downtown Spokane

    Tuesday, August 15 2017 8:01 PM EDT2017-08-16 00:01:57 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Update: Police say one person is dead after a shooting Tuesday afternoon in downtown Spokane. It happened near W. Main Ave. and N. Washington St around 3:45 p.m. Police say a person was found with a gunshot wound in the area and was pronounced dead shortly after.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Update: Police say one person is dead after a shooting Tuesday afternoon in downtown Spokane. It happened near W. Main Ave. and N. Washington St around 3:45 p.m. Police say a person was found with a gunshot wound in the area and was pronounced dead shortly after.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Neo-Nazi site sued for defamation, struggles to stay online

    Neo-Nazi site sued for defamation, struggles to stay online

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 6:51 PM EDT2017-08-16 22:51:26 GMT

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Muslim-American radio host is accusing the publisher of a notorious neo-Nazi website of defaming him by falsely labeling him the "mastermind" of a deadly concert bombing in England, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday

    >>

    BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Muslim-American radio host is accusing the publisher of a notorious neo-Nazi website of defaming him by falsely labeling him the "mastermind" of a deadly concert bombing in England, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday

    >>
  • Juvenile arrested in downtown Spokane shooting

    Juvenile arrested in downtown Spokane shooting

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 6:23 PM EDT2017-08-16 22:23:57 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have arrested a juvenile in connection to a fatal shooting in downtown Spokane on Tuesday, according to our partners at The Spokesman Review.  The boy, whose name and age have not been released, is facing a charge of 2nd Degree Manslaughter.  Police believe the juvenile shot and killed a man inside a parked car near Washington and Spokane Falls Blvd.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have arrested a juvenile in connection to a fatal shooting in downtown Spokane on Tuesday, according to our partners at The Spokesman Review.  The boy, whose name and age have not been released, is facing a charge of 2nd Degree Manslaughter.  Police believe the juvenile shot and killed a man inside a parked car near Washington and Spokane Falls Blvd.

    >>
  • NYPD: Teen chokes mom's ex-boyfriend to death after seeing him beat her

    NYPD: Teen chokes mom's ex-boyfriend to death after seeing him beat her

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 6:22 PM EDT2017-08-16 22:22:37 GMT

    NEW YORK - An 18-year-old New York boy has been charged after police say he choked his mom's ex-boyfriend to death after witnessing the man beat her. Luis Moux has been charged with manslaughter. Police say the mother's ex-boyfriend showed up at the family apartment to speak to the boy's mother and the two began arguing in the hallway. 

    >>

    NEW YORK - An 18-year-old New York boy has been charged after police say he choked his mom's ex-boyfriend to death after witnessing the man beat her. Luis Moux has been charged with manslaughter. Police say the mother's ex-boyfriend showed up at the family apartment to speak to the boy's mother and the two began arguing in the hallway. 

    >>