Survivors’ Perspectives

As part of this project, the CRCVC connected with a number of Canadians impacted by terrorist violence around the world to ask them about their experience. Thank you to members of the Air India Victims Families Association.  We also connected with survivors in other countries who have been impacted by terrorism thanks to: Against Violent Extremism Network; the International Federation of Associations of Victims of Terrorism – IFAVT and the Association française des Victimes du Terrorisme – AFVT. The following comments were provided to us when respondents were asked to tell us what was most helpful to them in the immediate, medium and long-term following their victimization and what support is most critical for survivors.

Emotional/Medical support should be offered immediately afterwards. A government contact who can assist a victim in navigating all the government players and their bureaucracies would be important as well – this could be someone from the NGO community.

I do not recall any government officials offering any support at all.

People are reluctant to seek help because of a general stigma attached to psychiatric help or counselling.

The most positive resource or assistance I received in helping me move forward was the support of family, few friends, and my own efforts to understand the trauma, and find ways to live with it.

Empathy, understanding that my suffering was different than a ‘normal’ (whatever that is) accident or incident, and that PTSD was a factor in my and thousands of people in my category was missing from the overall response I received.

If I had to choose only one resource/support that victims/injured persons/first responders could receive following a terrorist incident, it would be training to understand that:  a. The terrorist attack site, and people there are undergoing a different from a ‘normal’ accident or incident site and needs handling differently; b. Immediate onset of PTSD and handling of injured and people in the vicinity factor; c. Forensic training for first responders, general public, and a mass information campaign on mass media, to inform/educate/inculcate in people the need for understanding the core issue of surviving terrorism and its repercussions.

It would be helpful to connect with a collective of peers (fellow-victims of violent extremism), something which I would have appreciated but wasn’t very active in seeking in the earlier stages of my recovery. Especially people with similar wounds/handicaps would have been greatly appreciated.

Adequate medical services (need) to be offered as soon as possible.

I had no support.

Family doctor (was helpful) for some of us.  Nothing else.

My family and I received the news  through  television where we were subjected to  gory images. There was no governmental support and the media  drove us  crazy, pushing  cameras and microphones at us  asking us ‘How we feel?’

A direct contact with a powerful and organized organisation seems to be the immediate support needed following a terrorist attack. This organisation should be able to advise and assist the victims concerning all the difficulties they deal with. This first contact should be done a few days following the event.

When the terrorist attack took place, none of the support or services were provided for the victims. Therefore, everything was missing.

(In the long term) the most positive resource for the victims continue to move forward is mutual support among fellow victims and their families. Also the support of NGOs in terms of psychological recovery, because it is very important for the victims.

The institution that has been of most help to me was … the national centre of experts on violence and traumatic stress. I got their support, but had to seek them out myself, which should not be needed.

Functioning support from the national system in Norway was completely lacking. There is also a lack of recognition of all the things that went wrong during the attacks which is troublesome to deal with as a survivor.

An association for victims should be called, to the extent possible, on the site of the attack immediately after the intervention of the 1st medical emergency.

(Missing from the initial response) The lack of response and taken into account by the political representatives in place , embodied by indifference , lack of listening , the lack of responsiveness of public services , lack of public financial support of victims’ associations , the scattered and slow decisions to support the victims…

The one response a victim should receive? An association for victims with a state-recognized status and functioning formally.