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ADVAS / Phoenix Campaign  / PHOENIX: Ajay



This week, as part of the Phoenix Campaign by ADVAS, we met Ajay.

Ajay was a young man with big dreams. Coming to Canada from overseas just 6 years ago, he and his family have worked hard to be successful here. His hard work has paid off, and he is starting his career at a bank in our community. For Ajay, getting this job and doing it well meant a lot. He was the first in his family to graduate from a Canadian University, and he was the first to overcome some unique barriers and be able to choose their path to success.

Ajay has a pretty normal routine, and on this day nothing is abnormal about it. He goes about his day, listening to the music he likes as he gets himself off to work.

There was someone in the ATM vestibule when Ajay opened the branch doors, and that person was about to change the course of Ajay’s day.

Crime can occur at any time of day, and crime is not known for being considerate of your schedule.

Ajay is the victim of an armed robbery, and the stress of the situation is making it hard for him to focus on what is happening. He is having physical stress responses to the incident already – his stomach hurts and his heart is racing. His ears are muffled and he is starting to sweat. Afraid of losing his life to this person, Ajay recalls his training and thinks of his mother. He focuses on the man’s voice, and does exactly as the man is telling him to do.

All jobs have some risk. Some jobs have increased risk. Employers and industries help manage this risk with training.

If you are offered training by your employer or a partner, take the training and pay close attention. The training could save you from serious injury or death.

Having complied with an armed robber, Ajay’s adrenaline is running in overdrive when the police arrive just seconds after the offender flees the bank where he works. He ran to the door with the intention of telling the officers what direction the offender went, but the sight of a weapon in an officer’s hand causes Ajay to have a serious physical reaction to the stress. His blood pressure drops, and so does he.

Ajay is feeling incredible physical pain as he lays on the ground, but he has not been shot.

Stress impacts each person differently, and it is normal for stress to cause a physical response.

We all have different lived experiences and learnings, and so each of us has a different level of comfort with different situations.

Ajay’s family, like many others, came to Canada from a part of the world that is prone to violence. Ajay’s only previous exposure to firearms was when they were being used against people near him.

After the incident, Ajay makes his statement and heads home for some rest. But he is finding himself restless. He struggles to sleep or to focus on anything, and he is having emotional reactions to the stress. Even though Ajay has been reassured that he did the right thing, he is feeling angry with himself for how the stress is impacting him. He thinks that he should be proud of himself because he did a good thing, yet he feels like he is letting himself down by “letting the stress get to him.”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder presents in different ways, though it is common for people to have trouble sleeping and to have dysregulated emotions.

When someone has been the victim of a crime, it is not often easy for them to simply “think about something else” or “move on.”

Some victims can heal, with help, over time, while others will never fully heal from the cognitive and emotional injuries caused by crime.

There is nothing wrong with a person who’s injuries take longer to heal, or that don’t fully heal; Nor is there is anything inherently right about someone just because they can “bounce back” quickly.

Having survived an armed robbery, Ajay is struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His ADVAS Advocate and his employer are working with him to access the support he needs to heal. Within just a few days, Ajay has been by a clinician and has a path to recovery.

Ajay took some time off from work to heal. During that time, he worked with his team to build new coping skills so that he could manage the long-term stress impacts of his PTSD.

PTSD is a serious condition that requires treatment. Help is available.

Ajay uses humour as he tells his story, and this is a common way that people who have survived victimization will tell their stories. Their use of comedy to make the story easier for them to tell does not diminish the severity of the crime that took place or the injuries that it caused.

Ajay was smart to take time off from work to focus on his recovery. He understood that he was injured and needed to heal, and he accessed the right supports to help him. Help is available for you, too.