Paris attacks trial hears devastating testimony of long-term impact of attack

·2-min read

The psychological damage does not affect only those who were witnesses or victims of the terrorist attacks on the night of 13 November 2015. Practically all the civil witness testimonies point to the impact of the victims' damaged lives on those around them, parents, grand-parents, children.

One woman lost her sister in the terrorist attack at the Batalan. She has since lost her father, dead of a broken heart, he having spent the last five years of his life sitting in the same place, holding a photograph of the daughter he refused to believe was dead.

He stopped eating, he didn't bother to wash. "He lost his taste for life."

And the witness wonders what effect the story of their aunt's violent death will have on her two children, when she eventually finds the words to tell them. For now, it's a subject to avoid.

Another witness remains the victim of almost total amnesia of the events which cost 90 people their lives in the Bataclan.

She remembers choosing to watch the concert from the side, in order to see better. She remembers the noise of the weapons, falling or being knocked to the floor.

She also remembers being terribly frightened. "It wasn't fear. This was worse."

She has no idea how she got outside, how she made it home. A neighbour took her to hospital.

She was eventually diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I feel as if I'm still back there, trapped on the ground," she told the court. "But I'm not complaining. I had hoped for better. I would have preferred not to have to grow old with this behind me. But they didn't kill me. I'm free."

An earlier witness told the court about his brush with death.

He was shot at the start of the attack and lay on the Bataclan main floor pretending to be dead, hoping not to be finished off. Then he realised that he would soon not have to pretend any longer, that he was dying from blood loss.

"I knew I was on the way out. I have to say, it was pretty ordinary. I didn't see any tunnel, I didn't think of anybody, I just felt terribly cold. Then I saw a pair of police boots . . . I woke up in hospital."

The trial continues.

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