Testament to human spirit

SUMMER JACOBS

After Karen Hayward became the victim of a house invasion in 2009, she was left with two choices – she could either give in to the post traumatic stress she was experiencing or she could fight her way back to a healthy life.

Seven years later Ms Hayward serves as a testament to the unshakable power of the human spirit and aims to equip others with the necessary tools to overcome their own obstacles.

On that fateful day almost seven years ago, Ms Hayward was at her home in Johannesburg when two armed men entered and demanded cash and valuables.

“I was in the pantry when two men walked past me. They didn’t see me and I pressed the silent alarm. When they saw me, they dragged me out and pushed me and my two domestic helpers on (to) the floor. My phone rang and I knew it was armed response. They tried to get to my phone but I said I couldn’t reach it. I was trying to buy as much time as I could. I was praying the whole time,” said Ms Hayward.

The men locked the domestic workers in a bathroom and forced Ms Hayward to show them where she kept her money.

They then walked Ms Hayward through the house, forcing her to show them where all the valuables were kept.

She said she had started a fitness and wellness business only a few years before, and had just started to turn a profit when the men forced her to hand over what she described as her hard work’s “harvest”, to them.

They also raided her cupboard and took her shoes and clothing.

Ms Hayward, who was hit on the back of her head with a gun, said she had feared being raped by the two men.

“They wanted to lock me in a bathroom but none of the other bathrooms locked, so they tied me to the basin. They put a gun against my head and said if I came after them they would kill me,” she said.

Ms Hayward recalled the events of that day during an interview with Tabletalk in Edgemead, where she now lives. She said after having lived in the area for 20 years, she had relocated to Johannesburg, but returned to Cape Town in 2013.

After the attack, she said, she suffered from insomnia and was anxious all the time.

“I was easily startled by noise and I didn’t like to be in a room with the door closed. It made me feel trapped. My palms were sweaty and I had anxiety attacks. I even put up more fences inside my property, but nothing worked,” she said.

These symptoms continued until Ms Hayward completed her first trauma counselling qualification.

She started applying what she had learnt, in her life and it began to heal her wounds. She started helping clients in Johannesburg with the technique she had developed and what eventually became Star 63 .

Ms Hayward explained that Star 63 is a Christian-based technique made up of a combination of tools to deal with trauma and stress.

She pointed out that conventional talk therapy is not enough to help someone heal, and believes a holistic approach is needed to help people heal.

“Star 63 is there to equip and empower. This is done through healthy visualisation, relaxation techniques, scripture readings and prayer.

“The principle is to release whatever is bothering you. What is happening on the inside is what you portray on the outside. We are faced with so much negativity. I work with what’s in people’s minds to change their negative thinking into positive thinking,” she said.

Apart from helping people to deal with anxiety and stress, Ms Hayward also helps clients with, among other, anger management, fear, addictions, eating disorders, self harm, suicidal thoughts, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, divorce, death, crime, abuse, rape and car accidents. She runs Star 63 sessions from her home.

“I also run a Star 63 community project, the purpose of which is to offer people who can’t afford private session rates the ability to attend sessions and they contribute a donation or what they can afford to their session.

“I have a huge passion and desire to grow this project, as the need for people to receive specialised help is an epidemic,” she said.

Now in high demand, Ms Hayward hopes to start a non-profit organisation through which people will be able to benefit from Star 63 sessions even if they cannot afford it.