Reliving the Nightmare; Last Week Viewers Saw Emmerdale's Laurel Thomas Start to Show Signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after She Was Involved in a Car Jacking. Someone Who Knows Only Too Well How Laurel Feels Is Claire Matthews

Article excerpt

For Claire Matthews, 27, walking alone in Brighton wasn't something she would think twice about. But last year all that changed for Claire when she was brutally attacked and mugged outside her friend's house. What followed were weeks of trauma and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Claire explains, 'I had always felt safe travelling around Brighton, and there was still light in the sky on the night I was attacked. I had entered what I thought was a safe area of Brighton.' But as Claire approached her friend's apartment door she heard someone behind her, and as she turned she saw a gaunt tall man rushing towards her. Claire says, 'With a flash he grabbed me by the throat, slamming my head into the wall. His gloved hand was over my mouth.' Claire tried to get loose, but the man was much stronger than her. ''Is this it?', I thought, realising in those seconds that I was utterly helpless. This man could do whatever he wanted to me and I couldn't do a thing.' After repeatedly pushing Claire's head into the wall he demanded she give him her phone and bag. 'With my belongings he left and I crumpled to the floor. My friends handled everything. They called my boyfriend, Callum, and the police, and gave me much needed hugs!

The police did everything they could but unfortunately Claire's attacker wasn't caught. 'They spent hours combing the area, searching bins, getting statements and questioning people. I also had to do a photofit and relive the attack out again for the police.' And for Claire the harrowing moment when her attacker pushed her head into the wall stayed with her for weeks. She explains, 'In the moments of the attack I'd felt helpless, and that knowledge of just how vulnerable I am in the world stayed with me, not just for days or weeks, but for months. I'm still aware of it, to an extent, now.' Immediately after the attack Claire took a week working from home because she was suffering panic attacks when leaving the house. 'I'd be trying to get on with things, then suddenly my heart would start pounding, I'd feel dizzy and have extreme feelings of anxiety. I couldn't leave the house or open the door.

She visited the doctor who diagnosed her with post traumatic stress and she was given medication to control panic attacks. …