IRA victim's sister buoyed by support after telling about depression battle
Victims' campaigner Ann Travers has said she has been heartened by the many messages of support she received after opening up on social media about her struggle to cope with the long-term effects of the IRA ambush that claimed the life of her sister Mary.
Writing on Twitter, Ms Travers said: "Tonight I'm feeling very 'down'.
"This happens for periods of my life, a consequence of the trauma suffered when the IRA attacked my family and stole our lives that we should have had, along with education successes and all of those goals that should have been reached."
Mary, a teacher, was just 22 when she was shot dead by a gang that was targeting her magistrate father Tom Travers.
The ambush happened as the Travers family walked home from Mass at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast on April 8, 1984.
While Mr Travers was shot six times and survived, a single shot to the back killed his daughter.
An attempt to shoot the girls' mother only failed when the terrorist's weapon jammed at point-blank range.
Last night the campaigner said she had been buoyed by the support she had received after her admission that she was feeling low.
"It's been heartening, because sometimes I think the long-term after effects of terrorism are not very well understood," she said.
"They can last a lifetime. But the outpouring of support I've received - a lot of it from people I have never met - has been wonderful.
"Many were in the same boat as me and understood the pressures, and understood what victims may be going through."
But among the messages of support were calls for her to "move on".
One man posted: "People suffered but everyone needs to move on otherwise graveyard be full of bitter people. Time to move on!"
Ann replied: "Victims aren't bitter people, they are traumatised and grieving people."
Ms Travers said last night that she could not understand the mentality of people who post hurtful comments about Troubles victims.
"They have no empathy. Even if you don't agree with someone, or think that my family got what we deserved, to go through your life wishing more unhappiness on someone is just... bizarre," she said.
She also called for a specialist unit to help victims cope with mental health issues.
"It's important to raise awareness across the UK and Ireland of the need for specialised mental health resources to help the many people who are suffering mental health issues as a result of Troubles incidents," she said.
She added: "Counselling services are very good.
"At the same time I feel we really need a physical place, a specialist unit with dedicated professional psychologists and psychiatrists who are experts in the field.
"Many people who have been damaged by the Troubles received little help at the time, which could have been up to 40 years ago."