One person’s big LOL is another’s PTSD

2015-03-18 15:00

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Seeing the mugging of Vuyo Mvoko and other members of the SABC crew on TV was an immense trauma trigger.

The scariest part was the familiarity of the scene: the weird attempt at being casual, the sudden pouncing and patting down as the muggers searched for valuables, and the eerie whispering as they demanded more stuff and threatened to “dubula le nja” (shoot the dog).

How quickly things go from normal to petrifying.

I’ve been mugged twice in my life, most recently a year ago on the morning of my interview with this publication.

I know that dance.

It occurs to your mind and every cell in your body that you could literally die, but also that you are being violated – so you want to fight.

Often, what follows is a huge sense of shame that you chose life and not to fight.

I had two immediate thoughts upon seeing the crime.

The first was how many people in the country would experience déjà vu while seeing the mugging, especially those who had just been watching their evening news.

Being mugged is so commonplace that it’s almost rare to not know – or be – someone who has been violated in that manner.

It’s one of the few crimes where, we’ve come to understand, it’s really down to luck and, by some chance, managing to avoid being in the same place as the criminal – be it at night, during the day, in groups, alone and in “safe” or “unsafe” spaces.

Which brings me to the next thought: this kind of crime is pervasive, so why is it funny to see it happen to other people?

In a country where the bulk of the population suffers from some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from previous and current incidents of violence, why are the myriad causes of that PTSD not taken more seriously?

The online “LOLs” and “hahahas”, and “why didn’t he run?” were confusing, because we know that people have been – and continue to be – murdered for their possessions.

Sometimes people are killed because their possessions aren’t valuable enough – so you’ve wasted the muggers’ time.

Is it that we are attempting to cope?

Or is it that we are so far removed from the reality of living here that we think crime is entertainment?

Perhaps it is because some of us are able to share our stories of surviving violence with some humour.But crime exists on a continuum and no form of it should be acceptable.

We can’t claim to abhor it while finding some types of crime funny.

Follow me on Twitter @GugsM

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