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Columbine Survivor On Mass Shootings Today

Anne Marie Hochhalter was a highschool junior when she was shot within the again at Columbine High School in 1999. No one anticipated her to outlive.

The first bullet paralyzed her, and the second ripped via her lungs and diaphragm. She laid on the bottom for 45 minutes earlier than assist arrived.

“When I started to pull through,” she says, “the doctors called me the miracle girl.” She continues to be paralyzed from the waist down, and says she struggles day by day with nerve ache.

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But almost 20 years after the tragic Columbine capturing, Anne Marie has needed to stay by way of studies of numerous different mass shootings. Orlando. San Bernardino. Newtown. Parkland, Florida.

The survivor spoke with Women’s Health about what it is wish to see so many mass shootings—and the one hope she sees for change:

Women’s Health: When you see information of a brand new mass capturing, particularly one at a faculty, what goes via your thoughts? What does it really feel like?

Anne Marie: Well, in fact it’s devastating. It brings me proper again to virtually 20 years in the past. It makes me so so unhappy that now we’ve extra members of a membership that nobody needs to hitch. I do know what they’re going via, and I’m simply devastated for them. I simply can’t consider that it retains occurring.

In the quick aftermath [of Columbine], I used to be principally out and in [of consciousness] within the hospital. But once I got here out of it, I had shock and anger and unhappiness, confusion, all of these feelings. Columbine had by no means actually occurred earlier than, it was such a shock to everybody. And sadly now it appears to be extra commonplace and nobody actually bats an eye fixed anymore. They’ll be unhappy for 2 weeks after which transfer on, whereas the individuals instantly affected by the shootings are left behind to select up the items.

WH: The occasions at Columbine passed off virtually 19 years in the past. What do you assume is totally different? What is identical?

AM: I feel we haven’t addressed [mass shootings] in any respect. This nation has sure issues which are so ingrained that it’s very onerous to vary. Twenty years in the past, social media didn’t exist. So after Columbine, the blame recreation began. They blamed rap music. They blamed violent films, they blamed the mother and father of the shooters. They discovered something they might blame. Twenty years later now, we’ve social media, every time these mass shootings occur, individuals are outraged, they need change, they get into Facebook arguments and debates and other people unfriend one another, after which they overlook all about it. And then the subsequent capturing occurs and the cycle begins up once more. Nothing ever modifications.

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“Looking back, I wish I had been in counseling that whole time. It has a greater effect on you than you think.”

That’s why I’m actually keen about NoNotoriety [an organization that advocates not reporting on the individuals who commit acts of mass violence]—as a result of that is one thing tangible we will do as civilians that we will do to assist forestall the subsequent capturing.

Our legal guidelines aren’t going to vary any time quickly. I hope they do, however I don’t see that taking place. They have not over the previous 20 years. A standard thread with these mass shootings is that these individuals are in ache, they need to make different individuals really feel their ache, they usually need to be well-known. It’s within the media’s arms to not present the shooter’s face, to not say the shooter’s identify, and to not concentrate on the shooter. They give these individuals precisely what they need. These individuals need to stay on in infamy, they need notoriety. And the media arms it to them on a silver platter…So I feel that the NoNotoriety is large with altering that.

I’m additionally partnering with some individuals at a highschool for a “See Something, Say Something” [campaign]. Because a whole lot of youngsters see on social media these classmates posting all of this horrific stuff however they don’t need to snitch, in order that they don’t say one thing. And so we’re making an attempt to start out a motion now—should you see one thing, say one thing. And it’s going to be utterly nameless. … Those college students are our eyes and ears. It’s a matter of life and demise.

WH: What do you assume it should take to stop one other tragedy like this?

AM: I assumed Sandy Hook can be the turning level, to be trustworthy. All of us did. That was so, so terrible. And President Obama needed change. And he was blocked at each flip.

I don’t need to flip it right into a gun debate, however I really feel like I’ve to say one thing. You hear all of those Facebook warriors say, Enough is sufficient! and We’ve acquired to have change. And they publish one thing to make themselves really feel higher however they do not name their congressperson. They do not name their senator. They do not do something besides make a submit on Facebook. That’s why it is so essential to make these calls, to demand motion, to belong to NoNotoriety, to Everytown for Gun Safety, to all these Facebook teams that attempt to enact actual change.

“Our laws aren’t going to change any time soon. I hope they do, but I don’t see that happening.”

I’m hopeful, however I’m additionally making an attempt to be real looking that this drawback is so deep and so ingrained in our tradition.

WH: What helps you deal with information like this? What are your methods?

AM: For me personally, I keep away from photographs. I keep away from watching the pictures on TV, clicking the hyperlinks on-line concerning the circumstances surrounding the capturing. I’ve even needed to not click on on the names of the victims and the survivors as a result of I’m devastated simply seeing their faces. I can’t take a look at it an excessive amount of as a result of it simply brings me again too far.

WH: What is your recommendation to the victims and their households? What is one thing that has helped you progress ahead and heal?

AM: Hindsight is all the time 20/20. We’re 20 years previous the purpose of Columbine, and I can see the place I went flawed [in coping], and that was in delaying counseling. I can’t stress that sufficient. Students and academics that have been there at Columbine, the those that didn’t lose a liked one or who weren’t injured, that they weren’t “that bad,” they could have thought that they did not want it. That’s a lie, and it’s come again to chew numerous us within the butt 20 years later as a result of we put it off.

I had counseling within the very starting, however I used to be nonetheless in such a fog and a daze so I assumed that I used to be okay. But I just lately began it up once more this yr. I figured, Better late than by no means! But now, wanting again, I want I had been in counseling that entire time. It has a larger impact on you than you assume, and it is a delayed response. So lots of my classmates have stated the identical actual factor.

Having a help system round you of your family and friends is so essential. Having individuals simply to take a seat there once you’re feeling down—to not supply recommendation, simply to take a seat beside you. Or take you out of the home, discover you one thing that you simply love to do. Because for those who simply sit ay residence and don’t exit, it simply destroys you. It can destroy you. So counseling and having that help system are the 2 most essential issues I can consider.

Also value noting: The Rebels Project Facebook group was began by two Columbine college students aimed toward serving to these impacted by mass shootings. They have us [the Columbine survivors] at their disposal in coping with the aftermath. If they need to message me on Facebook, I’m right here for them. All of us needed to navigate this; all of us needed to lean on each other as a result of no different faculty was going via what we have been. If I can supply any sort of recommendation 20 years later, then it’s value it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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