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Survivor Shaming, The Aftermath of Killing Someone In Self-Defense: Part 2 with Terra Newell

How do you move past taking the life of another human being, even when it is in self-defense?

How do you cope with Survivor Shaming?

What does moving past guilt & shame look like in the public eye?

In last week's episode (Moving Past Murder - Episode #31), an interview with survivor Terra Newell, many of my audience members were left with a few unanswered questions after hearing Terra's story.

Specifically, how Terra was able to move past ending the life of John Meehan, AKA “Dirty John." How do you deal with the public's scrutiny, moving past your own guilt and shame, and the almighty "Survivor Shaming" from a self-righteous public audience?

I recently met Terra in person this past weekend, and she was more than to share more of her journey toward healing and recovery.

Episode highlights...

•Coping with PTSD and the double trauma when someone tries to take your life and you take theirs in self-defense.

•Dealing with "Survivor Shaming".

Please enjoy this follow-up interview of Moving Past Murder with Terra Newell.

YouTube link to the episode:

Terra Newell: [00:00:00] Well first had to have those days spray, have those messages and you cry the whole day because people sing, you know, people can be mean and send terrible messages. Like I've had people telling me that I should be rotting in jail right now. And I'm like, I went in and cried about that. But later. You kind of have to realize that well, and I go through a lot of therapy too, and, you know, having a therapist helps, but deciphering from the good and the bad and realizing that the good overlaps the bad a hundred times, even though in that moment, that bad me seem like it's.

Collier Landry: Testimony continued today in the most notorious criminal trial in Richland county history. Dr. John Boyle is accused of killing his wife, Marine and burying her body in the basement of his new home in Erie, [00:01:00] Pennsylvania. The 12 year old son lively took the stand. I heard a scream I heard, but it's about this loud.

We have a jury find the defendant guilty when I was 12 years old, my testimony sent my father to prison for murdering. This podcast serves as a type of therapy and reconciliation for myself. And it is my hope that it helps anyone who is experienced deception, betrayal, and dark trial. I'm Collier Landry and this is moving past murder.

So as many of you are. Well, you were curious to hear more of Terra Newell story. So, and, and sort of the, the part two of our interview is how did Terra move past murder or move past ending John me Han's life. And so she's going to share some very unique perspectives and what her relationship is like now with her who, with his daughters and her family, and what was sort of the, the re the aftermath of [00:02:00] all of this.

So I'm pleased to welcome back to the program Terra. So Terra, it's so great to have you back on the program. Thank you for agreeing to come back and sort of share your process with us. Um, and I just met you last night, which was really cool. We did this, you did this true crime meetup that you invited me to.

Terra Newell: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming to it. It was so funny and just so fun to see like-minded people. I feel like half, this also didn't drink and we were at a bar, so it was like a fun environment.

Collier Landry: Yeah. And the sweet potato fries were amazing. Um, did you have those?

Terra Newell: I had like one or two. They weren't good.

I like them with catch up though. There wasn't catch

Collier Landry: up there. I know I was bombed. I asked for it. The guy didn't come back. Oh, well, um, so. So one of my, uh, several of my listeners, they listened to our last episode, which we were originally going to [00:03:00] kind of put together with your mom. And then we decided to do a one-off episode.

So this would be like our part two that you've agreed to join us on. But a lot of the listeners will reach out to me. They were like, you know, call your, we'd love to hear more about you because I sort of summed up what you're doing, but I was like, yeah, why don't I have Tara tell us what she's doing. And you know, the, the.

The title of this program is moving past murder. And obviously you're, you're moving past something that was a horrific situation that you were put in and you had to defend yourself. And, uh, you know, you stand really strong in that. And you've done a lot of really, really amazing work on yourself that you shared with me last night.

And so I'd like to talk to you a little bit about that, what you'd like to share, how you went through all of this after John Meehan, being in the hospital. You know, having cash, which you share with me, we had nice little cry about, um, tell us, tell us how all this happened. Okay.

Terra Newell: So, well, when you first initially go through the shock of everything [00:04:00] and.

I wanted to kind of convince everyone that I was okay. And that I didn't need to be worried about and whatnot, but that wasn't the case. Um, I had meltdowns, I had panic attacks. I was grooming dogs and working with dogs before hand in. Couldn't do this job because my dog was with me and my attack and he was barking.

So that became a trigger for me. And unfortunately I would have these meltdowns as I was trying to work and I just couldn't get it together. And then my sister and I kind of ended up getting in an altercation. And it got bad and the cops were called and they came and they were just like, you guys just need to be separated.

And I was just in a place where like I was triggered and she, you know, sisters [00:05:00] and brothers, we fight. And my sister and I were 15 months apart in age. So it was like, she, it was a lot that we had to go through and process. So it just, wasn't healthy to be all under the same. And so I ended up going to Texas out to Austin and I stayed with my other sister.

She was amazing until I, uh, take to him. I can't talk about, she takes, she's taken a lot of time off of work. Um, and she had to just like clear out a room and she was like, come stay here. And she really. Took care of me. And I went into EMDR therapy team that really helped me. And then it just went on this healing journey and Austin was amazing for me.

I felt like I was [00:06:00] completely healed and then I had to go back to work. So I came back to California so that I could work from my mom's silk plant company. And then I started working there. Um, I went out to a bar and this guy grabbed me by my waist just to move me, um, because he wanted to play pool and I ended up freaking out on him, not like hitting him or anything and just started yelling at him.

And I was telling him that it's never okay to touch a woman and you have to have her permission and so on. Um, and that ended. Being on the daily mail, of course. And then I realized that I had to go back to therapy because I just didn't work on all my triggers. And I was kind of living in this cycle of, um, drinking and stuff.

But [00:07:00] then when I came back, I was trying to not go out as much and trying to navigate that whole scene because my friend. That I was with beforehand. They were out drinking and living in these toxic cycles. And so I had to navigate having boundaries with them and I'm a people pleaser. So I wanted to go out to the bars with my friends because they were like, Tara, come out, come out, come out.

And it's just a thing. And, you know, early twenties, Like 20, 25, 26. So not

Collier Landry: really trust me. I'm a little bit older than you that I'll, I'll take that as early twenties.

Terra Newell: Okay. So around that time, you know, it's just parties and drinking and that's like the society norm, but it's not healthy. And so I really had to step out and then.

Navigate my own healing. Take time for [00:08:00] myself and go on hikes, get one with nature. And then this path will COVID hit and that's a trauma itself. And then this whole other healing journey went through. And that's when I really got into yoga and went through my teacher training and it just helped with me so much.

Like I. I am so not reactive with things. Like if someone cuts me off, I'm like, well, some days, some days I'm like, you know, but I have to be built up from other triggers to have a reaction to something. So I went through this process and then now it kind of came to me, wanting to coach other women because so many people come to me and bite for advice.

And. On calls with them for hours and it's like, I'm already [00:09:00] coaching. Um, but I really had to get to a place where I felt like I was healed enough to take on other people's stories and energy. So got to that place. And then now I've done coaching for two years now. I've done like workshops with different people with Dr.

Judy ho, um, Dr. Judith Joseph, and lots of great coaches and psychologists, psychiatrists. And. Now I'm just doing no more toxic dating workshops and trauma workshops. So which

Collier Landry: I need to sign up for it. No more toxic damage. Cause I clearly I have to, to learn something from you.

Terra Newell: Yeah. Well it starts in may. So, you know, I got in time.


Collier Landry: you got. So you said you had this, you know, when I think about your situation and I was actually talking to someone about this yesterday, before I went to [00:10:00] S before I met you in person, and we were discussing one of the things that this person said to me, they said, you know, it's like a veteran that comes back from war and they're triggered.

They hear an explosion or they hear something and they're just, they become startled. And I was discussing I'm, I'm working on a documentary right now and it was about a Vietnam vet he's since passed away. But my friend went to wake him up in the film and he didn't wake him up properly. And he was like, aye, aye.

And he was lamenting music, you know, I should have. Properly. I knew better. You gotta be really gentle with me. He kind of jarred him and his reaction. You could see for about 10 seconds. He's trying to assess a situation like do I grab for this he's 40 years removed from the Vietnam war. So I think there's a lot of PTSD that comes from anything.

For me, I, you know, I'm eternally grateful to all our veterans and our combat veterans and for what they've done for this country. And [00:11:00] I think. But I think that when you sign up for something like that, you are acknowledging the risks and that's not to say that's not to denigrate or anything that they've been through, but I think that they do that.

Whereas when you are someone who is just assaulted out of the blue or attacked, or in your case, like he was coming to kill you, not it wasn't like I'm going to attack you or try to rape you, you know? As often happens, unfortunately, in society, this was like, he's coming, he's, he's going to kill. He's trying to kill you.

I would imagine that you are in these situations in real life or that you get these triggers. Cause you're in a normal situation, but it's not these normal situations don't become so normal anymore is I guess what I'm really saying. Then you're under the microscope. He said, oh, it goes into the daily mail.

How do you, how do you cope with all of that and become the person that you are today without being jaded and things like that. Because people ask me this, right. But [00:12:00] I've never, well, I have been attacked, but that's a different story, but how do you, you're in the public eye, this happens. How do you deal with this and you, and how do you come and say, look, I I'm acknowledging this and owning this.

I need to do more work. How do you get, how do you get there? Cause that's. Um, commendable.

Terra Newell: Um, well thank you for that. I, well, first had to have those days, Bray have those messages and you cry the whole day because people sing, you know, people can be mean and send terrible messages. Like I've had people tell me that I should be rotting in jail right now.

And I'm like, I went and, and cried about that. But later you kind of have to realize. Well, and I go through a lot of therapy too. And, you know, having a therapist helps, but deciphering from the good and the bad and realizing that the good overlaps the bad a hundred times, even [00:13:00] though in that moment, that bad me seem like it's overlapping a hundred times, but really the good overlaps and just staying in that mindset.

But. You know that person who said that message to, they may be ill or in a different space. So just staying on the positivity now and in that screen, but you know, it's, sometimes you are human and you are affected.

Collier Landry: Yeah. And that's a really, you know, that's something that people come to me and they go, how are you so positive?

How are you? And I'm like, well, what is it like when you honestly break it down? What is the other choice that doesn't look so good? Living your life in fear, paranoia? You know, I had, I had a friend that said something to me recently. I had, I was wearing a, I had gotten a [00:14:00] watch fixed and I said, oh, I got my watch back.

And he goes, well, you better be careful when you wear that out. And I'm like, that is. Despite everything I've been through that is still something I don't think about. And look, I've been attacked in, you know, by five guys in Hollywood few years ago, I have, uh, you know, obviously also almost lost my own life by my father.

Um, because I firmly believe he was, he was going to kill me and in Florida. Um, I think that, you know, People want to proceed with caution through life and all this, but when you go through things that are so, so horrific and so extreme, I think that I almost feel like you're give a shit has turned

Terra Newell: off. Um, yes.

So, you know, talking about last night, there was even someone that is in the true crime sprayed space that witnessed a murder or witnessed. I didn't get her story completely, but you know, [00:15:00] she is a brown murder and is living in that space. And instead of like being positive about the situation, she wanted to go confront the guy.

And, you know, I feel it's important to also do that, but to not live in that resentment and to not live in that hate. And she was just living. In that cycle of like nothing good is going to happen. And I felt so bad for her in that moment because when you truly believe that, then you create all these negative thoughts and then you live in that like stuck cycle and you're in your home.

And you're the person that doesn't want to come out of your home from trauma. And. When you change your mindset and you change, you know, live in positivity. That's when you create growth from your trauma and moving past murder and.

Collier Landry: Yeah. And it's, and, and also, you [00:16:00] know, I, so I did a Ted talk and I was talking about that.

I feel that one of the ways to lead yourself through trauma is also being like an action or being like, in your case, you're being of service. You're helping other people. I mean, I feel with me doing this podcast, I'm being of service, obviously. Exposing parts of my life that nobody gets to see and reading letters from my father, talking to great individuals like yourself and sharing these stories of hope and, and to really share the message that no matter how bad things get there is.

First of all, there's always somebody who's got it worse than you, even though you think it's worse, it's so bad that it's never going to, there's always somebody that has it worse than you. And on top of that, if you just lead with this open heart and you do, because if you don't do that, in my opinion, you can tell me what you think about this.

But I think it's probably the same thing is that if you don't live your life to the fullest, [00:17:00] they wind.

Terra Newell: And, you know, even if John was alive today, Well, it's hard to say because you never know when you're in that situation, but I want to say that I wouldn't be living in fear from him. I would be living my life and trying to do things too well, probably protect me and keep safety, but also like, you know, live out my dream.

If I wanted to go somewhere, I'm going to go somewhere. I'm going to visit that place. I'm going to live out what I want to do.

Collier Landry: Yeah, I don't think you can live life looking over your shoulder. That's why I wonder on the flip side for me, like I watch, like, I am not into true crime, but I'm inch, but I am into people who pull scams or financial crimes and I'm going to, there's a few people I have lined up for the program that are going to come on that are going to discuss these types of things in real detail.

I feel like those types of people that like Rob people of like millions of dollars or get away [00:18:00] with these scams and do all these horrible things that destroy families and lives. Right? Because financial violence is also a very real thing with sometimes even worse consequences than actually just killing some.

Because it affects the whole family. And then those people might turn to suicide because nothing I've lost my life savings, everything I worked for Bubba, and now my family can't afford to pay them. So the, you know, it, it's really very, very destructive in a lot of ways like con artists. But I feel like those people con.

Are looking over their shoulders. I was talking about the Tinder swindler last night with someone. And I said, you know, I said, and he, supposedly this guy is going to sign a deal. They're doing a dating show, all these things. And I'm just like, and they're like, well, when you see that, does she go? There's no justice in the world.

I say, okay, No, I don't look. I mean, yeah, it sucks. I hope that whoever he owes the money to is able to Sue him and get that money and get themselves their restitution. But yeah, it's terrible. But you have to understand that when you're looking at [00:19:00] them and saying, oh, they're living a great life. No, they're not.

They live a life where they look over there. Every single day, if not every single hour there, just like my friend said, oh, what did you go out? And you get robbed. Well, I don't think about that. You know, I'm like, am I naive? No, I'm not naive. I know that things exist. I don't leave the, you know, I wouldn't leave my bike parked out without a lock on it or something, or I wouldn't, I'm not naive or stupid, but I, but I'm also not going to just think that the world is out to get me.

And I feel like a lot of people that go through extreme trauma, they go through this at like the, okay. There's no hope in the world. There's no. There's no light at the end of the tunnel, uh, all is lost. So to those people, what would you say? 30 seconds. Gotta

Terra Newell: step out of that mindset, even if it's just taking a walk every day, start little.

And when you start little, you can build on that.

Collier Landry: There you go. Now really fast. You were, you were talking about self-defense. [00:20:00] Um, so you do self-defense. No, no,

Terra Newell: I've done a charity event where I've had people teach us self-defense and then I went through the steps of what I did to defend myself and what was accurate in that.

Um, so I'll talk about that, those steps, but I don't teach people how to defend themselves.

Collier Landry: What of. Well, we were talking last night. Very candidly. You said that you have a relationship with John's daughters, is that correct? And how does that, so for those of the world, it's like, how does that work? Can you tell us a little bit about.

Terra Newell: Well, I love Emily and Abigail.

Collier Landry: I think people's normal reaction is like you killed their dad. They should hate you. And I think that's absurd by the way, but I'm also someone that's, you know, that is very forgiving. Obviously people are going to vilify you [00:21:00] without even you, you know, I think one of the most difficult things for me and why I got out of where I was.

As fast as I could was I carried with it, the stigma of, oh yeah, that's call your he's the he's Dr. Boyle son, the murderer who murdered his dad, you know, the whispers and things like that. Um, and you are still probably dealing with that because it became a television show and people know you and you know, when you Google you, you you're everywhere.

You know, you're very much. Owning this, which is, I think probably the most staggering and spectacular thing about you is that you've, you're embracing this when you

Terra Newell: meet Emily and Abigail it's like they were living in fear from their dad for so long. So we kind of just bonded on the fact that we all were living in fear from this guy.

And even though it was their father and whatnot, it was just like, we were all of the dirty. [00:22:00] The dirty John girls or what not dirty John girls, but we were the church girl.

Collier Landry: Yeah. So that's interesting. So I'm sure, like, nobody knows that, but this guy was even traumatizing his own family. His own daughters were traumatized by him.

Terra Newell: Oh yeah. No, they were living in fear. They couldn't, um, they had to have certain. Like things that school where it says, um, if you see this guy, like don't let the girls go with him and stuff.

Collier Landry: Wow. Yeah. That's crazy. I mean, that's that's wow. So you're almost in a way you sort of saved them from a very cause they would have dealt with that their entire life probably.

Terra Newell: Yeah. Um, I, I, in a sense I did, I don't, I, I don't like to like say I saved people and like, be

Collier Landry: like, no, no, no, no, no. Of course, no, but you ended it, you [00:23:00] ended the, you ended the cycle of the chaos for so many people. So one of the things like I've always been. Upset like obsessed with, it's why I got into why I made a murder in Mansfield and wagon into filmmaking in general was I was, I was obsessed with understanding the consequences of violence and the ramifications of it.

But here is something that was violent, but it actually had a positive ramification because it ended so much suffering for those around.

Terra Newell: Yeah, well, you know, that's part of like my belief system, you know, it's coming to you and if you believe that good at the end of the day, over defeats evil, you know, you're going to win.

And if you have those good thoughts and not good mentality, you're going to be.

Collier Landry: And you're happy. I think so. Well, it's a work in progress, right? For [00:24:00] everyone. Um, Tara Newell, thank you so much for coming back to the program. Probably going to bother you again. I'm sure because I know I'm going to see you again.

So, um, this has been really great and I, and I want to thank you for really taking the time, because this really impacts my listeners and they just love hearing these stories because you are. Even much like myself, someone that I think people look up to and go, Hey there, they made it. I can make it too.

And I commend you for being that person. Thank

Terra Newell: you. I do

Collier Landry: too. That's great. Uh, now really fast, whereas Dixon. Hi, Jason, give me for those of you who don't know, Dixon is terrorists. Doggy.

Oh, my goodness. Look at that. Sweet Dixon. Hi bud.[00:25:00]

Terra Newell: I took him dog. So he was eating some salmon and gave me kiss.

Collier Landry: Oh, well he loves his mama. Yeah. That's so sweet. Well, Tara, thank you so much again for being on the program and, um, thank you for bringing Dixon. He's so cute. I love him so much. All right, well, um, I will talk to you soon doll. Thank you. And all right.

So, uh, my most recent episode was with Tara Newell. Was portrayed by Julia Garner and the television series dirty John, her mother, Debra Newell was the one who dated dirty John, John Mehan and ended up marrying him and all of this chaos ensued. She ultimately was the one who, after being attacked by John, uh, when he was coming to kill her, uh, by the grace of God, the knife flies out of her hand and [00:26:00] she ends up obviously ending his life after being stabbed multiple times herself.

And a lot of you had reached out and wanted to know with terrorists story, Y you know, how she is able to cope. And, and to be honest with you, this is, so this is a young woman who has done so much work, who has done such a tremendous job on herself to really overcome, because quite honestly, when someone comes to take your life, And you know, it, this wasn't a freak accident.

This was his, he had pure intent to kill her. That's a lot to work through in your life when you're just a normal person trying to deal with life. So for Tara to step out and to work on herself and to work through being an active participant in our society and, and helping people with her story is something that I really command.

It's a big part of what we're doing here on the. I'm Collier Landry and this is moving past murder. Thanks y'all.[00:27:00]

This podcast is made possible by support from listeners, just like. Please subscribe via apple podcast, Spotify audible. Find us on YouTube,

The film, a murder and Mansfield. It was available on investigation discussion. Discovery plus an Amazon prime.

This podcast is a production of don't touch my radio in association with RSA entertainment, please visit to show your support today.[00:28:00]

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