When Dusk Kills Dawn


Story Synopsis

At the core of much of our human experience lies trauma. Many people are subjected to everyday neglect, bullying, and emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Often these events can occur in childhood but they leave a deep and painful scar. To this day these subjects are often still taboo, yet the trauma experienced continues to play a significant, but unrecognised, role in so many lives.


When her parents migrated from Sri Lanka to Australia in the late sixties, Jackie, aged three, began to experience life’s harshest realities. Her Father, unable to cope with the extreme stress of building a new life in a new land with a young wife and three young children, begins a tirade of violence in the family home.

The domestic violence escalates until her Mother finally leaves taking her children with her. However the hope of a fresh start is short lived and culminates in the family witnessing their Mother’s murder and Father’s suicide.

For all involved this catastrophic evening sets off a chain of events that change their lives forever.


This book captures the horror of the lead up to the murder/suicide and the aftermath from the eyes of an eight year old child. It not only tells of the terror of the actual events but also the subsequent struggles and the legacy of complex trauma in a world that does not understand.


Jackie brings this story to life in a powerful and moving way. As the story unfolds you cannot help but feel the enormity of her experiences. Jackie not only describes the events but helps the reader to understand the full impacts on her journey through life.

In the pursuit of a greater understanding and to make meaning of these experiences, Jackie sought professional help to deal with the effects of multiple traumas. This has led her to becoming a Counsellor and Psychotherapist herself specialising in Trauma and Abuse.


This book is written by someone who knows the pain and complexity of trauma from the inside, but is also crafted from the perspective of someone who is using their experiences in a professional capacity to help others to heal.


What this book is about…


One in four women in America experience domestic violence and one in three women who are murdered in the US are killed by an intimate partner. The statistics are similar here in Australia.

By the age of twenty two I had experienced every form of abuse imaginable. This has led me to be a deeply empathetic and compassionate therapist with a strong desire to help those who are suffering from trauma. Writing this book is about reaching out and helping as many people as I can.

In my book “When Dusk Kills Dawn” I share my experiences with complex trauma and how I went about my own healing. By going public, I am able to reach a far wider audience than in my own private practice. There are many people in our communities struggling with countless symptoms of trauma. I feel these people deserve our understanding and most importantly deserve support to heal.

I am a Counsellor and Psychotherapist who specialises in working with trauma. My clients may not have encountered extreme events such as mine, yet they are struggling with symptoms of trauma. Some have experienced the pain of bullying at school, their parent’s divorce, painful separation, neglect or abandonment by caregivers, being hit by parents or humiliated by teachers. Many of them have been emotionally, verbally or sexually abused.

They struggle with depression, anxiety and emotional flooding. They become triggered in their everyday lives by experiences from the past. Some of them are struggling with various addictions. Many feel a deep sense of hopelessness, helplessness or powerlessness, or are overwhelmed with anger and rage. All of them in some way question and doubt themselves. They are often left with a deep seated belief that there is something wrong with them. This is the most overpowering impact of trauma, the constant feelings of worthlessness, negative self beliefs and self-doubt. Trauma has the effect to consistently erode one’s sense of self.

Like me, many survivors of trauma are highly functioning. On the outside they appear capable, outgoing, organised and positive. Yet on the inside they struggle. For years none of my friends or family realised how much I suffered from the effects of my childhood experiences. No one would have ever known because outwardly I always appeared to be holding it together. In many ways I was. In truth I was still haunted by my past.

Even though I seemed ok, I would talk about what happened to me constantly. I seemed stuck in my story. My friends and family would relentlessly tell me I was stuck in my past. They persistently told me that I should just let it go. As much as I tried, I couldn’t. Somehow I didn’t know who I was without my story. Later on I came to understand that this was my “inner child’s” misguided attempt to receive understanding. She only succeeded in pushing people further away.

Every time someone would make a random comment about me not being able to let my past go, I would sink into the depths of despair and depression. I started to believe that there must be something VERY wrong with me. This is what trauma does.

I have reached some very low points in my life. There have been times when I became completely exhausted from the constant internal struggle. I wanted to give up and I did not want to go on living. Sometimes I wished my father had killed me too. Living was just too hard and suicide seemed like a welcome relief.

“When Dusk Kills Dawn” is written for well meaning, well intentioned family members and friends who, due to a lack of understanding, often say or do the wrong thing. Family members and friends often simply focus on destructive behaviours or symptoms, and may have no understanding of what is driving those behaviours. They criticise and judge which only leads to further hurt for the victim.

This is known as secondary victimisation or secondary wounding. This often leads the traumatised person to feeling worse about themself and can prevent them from healing. By reading this book my hope is that you will be better equipped to know how to help your traumatised family member or friend to heal.

Trauma seems to leave us without language. We often have no ability to articulate what is happening to us or find words for our experiences. Our tongues, our minds and our bodies seem to freeze. Our brains become incoherent and confused and no words come out to convey how alone we feel. This just deepens our sense of isolation. Trauma often leaves people feeling unworthy or undeserving of love and leads people into self destructive behaviours like addictions.

Trauma is stored in the body and impacts us continually. The traumatised are often in a fight (anger), flight (anxiety) or freeze (depression) response. They don’t know how to live in their bodies because a connection to their body is too frightening. They often use substances as a way of numbing and remaining disconnected from the trauma responses they feel inside. Experts say “in trauma the body is the first thing to go and the last thing to come back”. It may explain why so many of us live as though we are separate from our bodies.

For those suffering with the shame of addictions, my hope is they too will begin to understand that addictions are just a way of coping with trauma and a dis-regulated nervous system. This book illustrates that gently and slowly addictions can be replaced with more nurturing and loving ways of soothing, rather than using substances or self destructive behaviours that leave you feeling ashamed.

“When Dusk Kills Dawn” is not a triumph over adversity book. While I was growing up I was incredibly resilient, as I needed this to survive. In order to really want to live and begin to thrive, I had to let go of this self reliance, move beyond resilience and learn to reach out and get the help I needed.

While resilience is an admirable quality and helps many people cope through difficult times, it can also lead to avoidance. Avoidance at times is necessary and can be a naturally healthy coping mechanism. Eventually though what we are pushing away begins to have an impact on our relationships, our bodies, our health, our finances or our ability to have a fulfilling career or a well lived life. It mostly shows up in the negative ways we feel about ourselves. In the words of Carl Jung “What is unlived rules us, what is in the shadow runs our lives, what is wounded needs a channel for expression and what remains disowned wreaks havoc.”

We often live in a move on, get over it society that promotes positive thinking and positive psychology. We are a society of fixers. So what happens to those that are in pain? Sigmund Freud & Buddha taught the same lessons. Freud said that neurosis is the refusal to experience one’s own suffering. Buddha said that in order to be free, one must accept, even embrace, suffering. This is all part of our psychological development.

Yet in western societies we don’t seem to know what to do with emotional pain, grief, loss, heartache, anger. We push away and try to fix these parts of our humanness and lose our connection to ourselves and others. What we can’t hold in ourselves we certainly can’t hold in others. This can create a constant feeling of isolation.

This book is a raw, honest account of what is like to live with the impacts of unresolved trauma and the suffering that trauma causes. It is not intended to gloss over the details. It is however also a book about hope. Sometimes, for those struggling with the endless symptoms of trauma, they give up hope and believe there is no way out. For readers of “When Dusk Kills Dawn” I want them to hold on to hope and to know that with the right support they can heal. It’s a matter of reaching out.

My wish is that when you read this book you will know that you are “normal”. What you experience are merely symptoms of trauma and it does not mean you are fundamentally flawed.

When you read my book my hope is that you know you are not alone and there are people like me, who truly understand what it is that you go through and can help you. Please know that there is a way out of the darkness. I found my way and you can too.

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