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Surviving Life After Multiple Homicides: A Community Assessment


Surviving life
Surviving life

As a federal investigator for the Department of Justice, I was working on a multiple-homicide case. A very gruesome crime scene. I had to navigate the instability of witnesses, the ambiguity of events, the uncertainness for the potential for further violence. I was carrying an emotional duffle bag filled with fear, doubt, disturbing and unsettling feelings. My role was to conduct a community assessment and determine what happened, how did it happen, and the potential degrees of  further conflict. This meant culturally navigating differences and laying the groundwork for future legal proceedings. The investigation had fragile outcomes, difficult encounters, and an uneasy balance in a social tug of war toward justice.

Violence creates a climate of fear. Ethical confusion seeps in as awkward moments of confusion creates emotional upheaval. I was a trembling soul. All the omens of social and psychological chaos were creating a dark wall of unpredictability.

A neighborhood psychopath was on the loose and I had to quickly re-align foggy thinking. I realized human nature is filled with violence, but I was on duty. Somehow, amidst the chaos, I faced my fears and found unexpected strength. I reasoned, sometimes life is like a psych ward. We all get sliced up a little bit on the road of life, yet everyone has to make their way.

The people I was speaking with were afraid for their safety. I was close to them physically, yet so far away emotionally. A psychological gangrene was eating away at this small community. At the bottom of the homicides was a massive drug smuggling organization. Pent up bitterness infected the local townspeople. Surviving Life




As I walked around the neighborhoods getting a sense for the social atmosphere, I notice a bumper sticker on an old truck claiming “H.A.T.E. Halt All Tender Emotions.” I found emotional nourishment in that small sign.  I realized there is no coincidence in the universal blueprint of life. As people we are here on earth to create harmony in movement and sanity in navigating the challenges in life, despite the obstacles we encounter on the path. It’s not a walk of fear, it’s a walk of destiny. From time to time, everyone gets an emotional flat tire and falls into an emotional vertigo. But you can’t be who you are not. All of us have to tackle our struggles differently

After seven days onsite, listening compassionately to their feelings, each person’s burden was unique in intensity and duration – there was no escape button. Each person’s answer was in the riddle of confusion. Pain pierced each person’s soul and created an emotional parking spot in their heart. Grief relief was found in sharing their story. Painful memories don’t suddenly disappear.

We all feel heartache. Grief has to ooze out and be squeezed out gradually. Everything shows up that is supposed to show up in your life energy. Psychological fragmentation needs to be organized even if the puzzle is cracked or fractured and you can’t smooth over reality.

I realized men and women want the same thing – to feel good about themselves, to feel worthwhile, and to be loved. All of them wanted to carry out the business of the day in a peaceful manner. People don’t have to be a bundle of psychological pathologies. Make the decision to rebuke negative or disturbing feelings: push back. Go beyond what you know. Expand your inner boundaries. Break out the psychological artillery. Combat negative thinking. Reinvent yourself. Can’t expect more than you give. Put a pause in your thinking and examine your biases. The lifestyle you lived brought you to this place. Get off the hill to nowhere. Stay off the bridge to the past. What happened to you when you are young, stays with you. Be here, be now. How genius can you be? Time is precious. Emotions need chemistry. Increase the love in your relationship. Increase the happiness of your love. We all need about the same amount of love. Each morning is a chance to begin again.

After I left the town, I filed a report with the Assistant Attorney General and six people were arrested. All happily living in maximum security.


About the Author:


Hilary Valdez is a freelance Writer living in Tokyo, Japan.  He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle.


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