Good morning Annie

I trust that you are well. I have heard much about you from friends who regularly read your articles and I have read a few myself that I have enjoyed. I never thought that I would find the need to write to you myself.

Last week whilst in Pretoria I had been at a supplier in broad daylight, in a main road. I was parked in a public parking. Upon returning to my vehicle, I got in, closed the door and that is when it all went wrong.

My door was pulled open. Three thugs with knives were facing me. I couldn’t move. I was trapped. One thug started stabbing at me with a knife made of glass with a cloth handle.

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I kicked and screamed, and was told by them not to scream. Yeah right! I continued to kick and scream with all my might and they dispersed.

I drove off and broke down and just cried for the whole day

I am generally speaking a tough bloke. I do gym every day. I have been burnt by fire, and written off cars, but nothing has come this close. I was helpless.

Time to hang up my proudly South African logo and emigrate. I would like to thank these thugs for causing inconceivable damage.

If they were men and took me on one on one the outcome would have been different. I would be in jail.

How do I stop the images from constantly replaying in my mind?

Have a great day

Dear Brendan

Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear about your recent attack. When we read that South Africa falls in the top ten countries of the world, we always hope that it is an article about wealth of natural resources, cheapest fuel prices â?? we would even settle for the most beautiful people. Unfortunately the article is probably about countries with the highest crime rate or violence.

Recently, as a matter of interest, I asked various groups that I found myself in to tell me how many had been personally affected by crime. Shockingly, nearly everyone had a personal story to tell about either themselves or a close friend or family member.

The English poet, Walter de la Mare once said: â??God has mercifully ordered that the human brain works slowly; first the blow, hours afterwards the bruise.â? This would explain why initially, with only your own determination, powerful kicks and thunderous screams you were able to fight off three men with knives (cue Rambo image). Once the attackers had fled, you say that despite being a tough bloke (clearly), you cried all day long.

Post traumatic stress syndrome is what causes the traumatic event to constantly be replayed in our minds as our minds try desperately to find a different, more pleasing ending to the story.

Susan Pease Banitt, an American psychotherapist and social worker, aptly describes post traumatic stress syndrome as â?? a whole-body tragedy, an integral human event of enormous proportions with massive repercussionsâ?

It is vitally important that you take the time to work through what has happened to you

We can become anaesthetised to the constant crime around us, until it hits home. Retelling your story to supportive friends and family can help you process the incident.

If anyone wanted to start an export-import business we could call it a family business with the number of ex-South African relatives and friends that we already have overseas. If I ask the question: â??Could the last one leaving the country switch the lights out?â? both you and Eskom (which regularly practices for this) have heard it before.

As you have come close to death, it is apt to consider what makes your life worth living

What gives you the greatest joy and peace, and are there changes that you can make that will ensure a steady flow of that?

Violent thugs stole your sense of well-being and peace as they threatened your life. It is true that if you were able to take them on, you may have ended up in jail.

But as Mahatma Ghandi said: â??An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.â?

Those thugs told you that your life had no more value than your wallet, phone or car. Donâ??t believe them. Donâ??t let them take any more from you than they already have. As you consider your future and possible emigration, take back your power and make choices from a position of faith rather than from fear.

I trust that you will continue to tap into the same courage that helped you fight off three armed men and find your peace again.

You are beautiful (by which I am thinking: probably well-built and strong)
Love and blessings