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How Terra Newell coped with meeting Eric Bana's Dirty John, the man who left her traumatised.

Warning – This post contains spoilers for Netflix’s Dirty John.

When Debra Newell met John Meehan for a candlelit dinner in October 2014, she thought she had met the man of her dreams.

He was charismatic, handsome and he was a successful anaesthetist who had just returned from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders.

Right from the beginning, however, Debra’s daughter Terra Newell was incredibly suspicious of John.

And in the end, Terra’s instincts were spot on.

After marrying John two months into their relationship, Debra soon learned John’s true side. In reality, he was a compulsive liar and a manipulator who was set on driving a wedge between Debra and her family.

When Debra finally left John, he spiralled out of control, attacking Terra in the car park of her apartment building while brandishing a knife.

Luckily, John dropped the knife and a struggle ensured between the pair, ending with Terra stabbing John 13 times.

Now, nearly three years on from the attack which left John Meehan dead, Terra is still dealing with the trauma.

The trauma has affected her so badly that she was “wary” of meeting Eric Bana, who plays John Meehan on new Netflix series Dirty John.

“[Debra] came up to me and said, ‘I don’t know whether to hug you or slap you’ because she’d seen the whole season,” Eric told Metro.

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Eric Bana and Connie Britton as John Meehan and Debra Newell in Dirty John. Image: Netflix.
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"The reaction from Terra the daughter was more interesting because she was genuinely still suffering from trauma," he added.

"We met each other in the make-up trailer – she came in and did a background extra thing in the last week of production – and was quite wary of meeting me."

Following the attack, Terra was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has since undergone extensive therapy.

She also quit her job as a dog groomer as the loud barking triggered her memories of the attack.

According to Terra's mother, the now 28-year-old is still recovering from the trauma of the attack.

 

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"Terra is trying to do her best with PTSD," Debra said at an event for Dirty John.

"She's having some triggers right now because of everything happening with the series. But she'll get better. She's had very intensive therapy for about six months, and she's back in now."

Although reliving the attack is traumatic for Terra, she has been heavily involved in both the Netflix series and the Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name.

Speaking to Variety, Terra explained that she chose to be heavily involved in the show as she wanted her fight for survival to be portrayed accurately.

“That happened so fast,” she told Variety. “I wanted to make sure it was accurately portrayed, but there [are] a few things that were embellished because it’s TV… You’ll really get to see it from a good perspective of how to survive if you were in that position.”

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