Susan Rohde traumatised, but not suicidal says couple's counsellor

2017-11-13 17:06
Susan Rohde. (Image via Facebook)

Susan Rohde. (Image via Facebook)

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Cape Town - In the months leading up to her death at Spier wine estate, Susan Rohde became jumpy, isolated, even manic, but "brushed" off questions about suicide, their marriage counsellor told the Western Cape High Court heard on Monday.

Carol Nader, who has been practising for six years, said Susan wanted to "keep up appearances" and had not confided in anybody, not even her own friends and family, about her husband Jason's affair with Cape Town estate agent Jolene Alterskye.

Jason was CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty at the time.

"She said: 'No one must ever know. I will cope on my own'," Nader testified.

Nader noted that Susan seemed traumatised and depressed by the affair, which rocked their 22-year-old marriage after Susan found a Valentine's Day card in Jason's suitcase in February 2016.

ALSO READ: Susan Rohde said she wanted to die - court hears

They started marriage counselling towards the end of February 2016, and said they did not want to divorce.

Jason also said the affair, which started in June 2015, had ended, and he was afraid of losing Susan.

However, Nader noted over the course of therapy that Susan seemed jumpy, had lost a lot of weight, was going to the gym a lot, and was battling to sleep and eat. At times she paced up and down.

In one session, Nader asked Susan whether she was thinking of suicide.

"Her response was 'No I would never do that to my children'," said Nader.

Low tolerance of childhood trauma

She did not ask her again for fear of insulting her, however, she was worried about Susan.

She told Jason to take her to a clinic if needed and recommended that Susan go for individual therapy too.

"There were times when she felt she could have been a better wife, she could have done things differently. She complained of feeling hopeless a lot of time," said Nader.

She also observed that Susan exhibited a low tolerance for mental and emotional pain, and of childhood trauma.

She believed the two were mirroring their own childhood experiences of parental upheaval. Susan's parents had already weathered an affair, and Susan described Jason's mother as "controlling".

United front

Nader said there were periods in their therapy when Susan seemed calmer, but also periods of volatility.

Jason complained that Susan kept asking the same questions, and on one day she had phoned him 47 times.

Their last joint therapy session was "very stormy".

"Jason walked in and said he was extremely angry as he did not want to attend counselling that day," said Nader.

She said Susan had gone to his office earlier to insist that he attend the session, and during the session, he said he did not want Susan at the conference at Spier.

But Susan was "absolutely insistent" that she go with him so that they could be seen together.

The court has already heard that Alterskye was also at the conference and Susan had wanted to put up a united front.

READ: 'My penguin forever': Rohde love triangle revealed in WhatsApp record

Susan was found dead in hers and Jason's suite early on Sunday, July 24.

At first it was suspected she had committed suicide by hanging herself off the back of the bathroom door with a curling iron cord, but later Jason was arrested and charged with murder.

Nader has stepped down and the trial was adjourned to Wednesday.

Read more on:    jason rohde  |  susan rohde  |  cape town  |  crime

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