I was caught up in the Tunisia terrorist attack in June 2015, I was 15 years old at the time and I struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for over 3 years. The panic I feel from each flashback is horrific. I still have occasional nightmares and sometimes struggle to concentrate. It’s so difficult to come to terms with witnessing people murdered, the guilt I felt because I survived is off the scale. Why did I get to live? Why did all those innocent people have to die? It’s very hard to explain the terror I felt from being chased by someone with a machine gun, bombs going off and being all alone, I somehow got split up from my step-dad Paul, when moments before I was playing darts beside the pool in a beautiful resort.
I made it into the hotel, many weren’t so lucky, they were killed as we were running to get inside, but still I wasn’t safe, the gunman came inside hunting for people. He came in to where I thought I’d found safety, chasing people down the corridor, shooting.
I made it into a room, I prepared myself to die in that room, telling myself over and over it wouldn’t hurt and would be quick! 38 innocent people were killed that day. After over an hour but what seemed like a lifetime we were advised it was safe to come out of hiding by authorities, the devastation I saw when I first exited the room will live with me forever. I’ll never forget those poor people in that corridor. I won’t go into detail about the horrors I witnessed, but I see those images daily. Even though I was alive, the dead bodies brought a realisation that my mum and Paul may be amongst the dead. I was in severe shock, when I reached the lobby, there was my mum, I’ve never felt such relief to see her. After being reunited with my mum and eventually Paul, I still didn’t feel safe until we arrived back at home in Derbyshire 24 hours after the attack, the UK government and the tour operator joined forces to charter flights to get us home.
The first 3 years after were a real struggle, coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and also tinnitus, I suffered damage to my hearing. It has impacted every single part of my life, I had 8 months out of school due to the trauma but then went on that year to sit my GCSE exams after intense studying, in a very short space of time to catch up on everything I had missed and passed with great grades. I went on to do A levels but none of this has been easy without the help required to control the PTSD, there is very little available and what is out there isn’t great in this country. Mental health is talked about much more, but, actually getting the help isn’t easy. I was suffering with flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety and many other symptoms.
In April 2017, I was invited on a Young Ambassadors Program in New York and found support and understanding from kids around my age also affected by other terrorist attacks with a great charity called Strength to Strength founded by a survivor of an attack. This was a turning point for me, I gained great comfort sharing experiences and realising I wasn’t alone in my struggles to come to terms with what happened. I will not let the attack define me, terrorism cannot win!
Me on the program with other survivors!
Me with NYPD's finest!
The whole group and leaders
Before the attack I did some work with Erewash Sound my local community radio station, and due to the media interest in covering the attack, despite the traumatic subject it reignited my passion for media, this led me back to Erewash Sound in December 2016 and I have volunteered there for a while. I worked hard to secure a place at a university studying Mass Communications in New York.
Me at Erewash Sound FM
I’ve had no help financially off the UK government or anywhere else for therapy or studies, and I’ve found out that I cannot get help from the government with student loans despite working so hard to gain a place at University. I did win a scholarship with the university and that has enabled me to accept a place which is a dream come true. But we as a family still need to raise £12k per year.
I am now at university, I started in September 2018, I will be volunteering at Strength to Strength which is one of the reasons I had chosen New York for my studies, I can offer support to other victims/survivors of terrorism, particularly those around my age, we all have a role to play in the fight against what is happening in this world, this is mine. I know I can make a difference.
If there is any amount you can help with to enable me to study for the full 4 years, I would be forever grateful. Thanks for reading a very condensed version of what has happened to me, I appreciate your time. Love, Millie xx
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