Mrs. P’s Story

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A survivor of the Khmer Rouge atrocities now helps lead PCAF group therapy.

Mrs. P is a 67-year old female from a rural village in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. She came to the PCAF Siem Reap clinic because of recurrent nightmares and headaches. She was too tired to work, and avoided sleep as it brought back painful memories of her time during the Pol Pot regime. Most of her family members were killed by the Khmer Rouge, and her family had no food, home or medicine. Her parents died of starvation, and her husband was arrested and her five children raped and then killed by the Khmer Rouge.

But Mrs. P. survived. When she returned to her home village, she was entirely alone save for one young niece whom she took care of before she moved away. Living alone again, Mrs. P was plagued by memories of her experiences. Her neighbors, concerned for her well being, brought her to the clinic for treatment.

The clinic staff began by working with Mrs. P to recount her war experiences and discussing ways to improve her sleep. She was given anti-depressant medication. She received individual and group counseling with other war survivors, and discussed Buddhist spiritual approaches to calm her spirit and find inner peace. The social worker visited her home, and obtained public assistance for travel to the clinic.

Mrs. P is no longer in treatment, and was asked by her counselor to participate in leading group therapy so that she can share her experiences with the group, help others and remain in regular contact with the clinic staff.