I am so relieved to see that Connecticut's Judicial system has extended trauma counseling to the jurors in the Hayes case. The evidence and testimony in these crimes was extremely sad and traumatic and this kind of trauma is life changing. Many people do not realize that people can suffer Post Traumatic Stress syndrome through hearing about, or seeing, images of violence, such as jury members who preside over protracted violent crime cases.
To a degree, many members of the community of Cheshire and the surrounding environs, experienced considerable Post Trauma through learning about the crimes especially during the time period just after the murders of Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit.
In hearing about the details of the crimes, and being in close proximity to where they happened, this alone can lead to a Post traumatic Stress disorder. That risk is proportionately greater for those who knew the victims personally; family members, neighbors, friends and schoolmates.
I daresay that the Petit family crimes have had farther reaching effects than merely the geographic of the Cheshire/Plainville Region. As a Connecticut resident who has blogged extensively about these crimes, I've received emails from people all over the country, and even a few beyond, in Canada, Ireland and England. The majority of letters came at a time when details about the crimes were being revealed in the media. Details like the fact that the Cheshire Police dept were at the scene, setting up perimeters, when the murders actually occurred, bringing a wave of confounded frustration and in some cases, considerable anger. Then There was the fact that Mrs Petit had been taken out of the house at one point by one of the killers, and indeed, she could have easily chanced it and run, but didn't, naively believing the men's claims that they would leave her home and her family alone, once they received the money.
It seemed that with each new detail learned, our level of grief grew as a clearer more accurate picture emerged of the crimes, and with it the various missed opportunities to save this family. There was a lot of " if only's" going on in the minds and hearts of many of us who had became privy to these terrible crimes. By and large, men seemed to respond with more anger and frustration as opposed to women, who tended to have a pervasive sense of sadness grief and frustration as well, at the various alternate endings that could have happened. the if onlys...
This working and reworking of the details of these crimes, imagining different, happier endings, is a natural stage in the grief process, and is akin to something called"bargaining" Although the process itself is usually experienced by close family members or those directly involved with the outcome of the crimes, ie members of the Police on the scene, the bank employees etc, this particular set of crimes transcended these normal parameters. Because of both the randomness of the crimes, thus the victims and the vulnerability that this in turn caused all of us who lived lives that anywhere resembled he Petit's, lives that centered around family, community and yes, personal and civic responsibility- If something this terrible could happen to a family who was the personification of innocence responsibility charitableness--what then of us?