As the fourth anniversary of the Grand shooting approaches, much of Lafayette has moved on.
The room in the Grand Theater on Johnston Street has been renovated, and people go to watch movies at the theater every day. Most of the “Lafayette Strong” signs are gone from local yards, and you don’t see the decals on cars like you did four years ago, when two Acadiana women died and nine other Acadiana people were wounded before the shooter took his own life.
Two days ago, a survivor of that shooting put up a GoFundMe that explains, in heart breaking detail, what survivors have been going through since that shooting. She did that because she hasn’t been able to move on, she hasn’t healed and she needs more help to do so.
Morgan Egedahl writes that her best friend was Jillian Johnson, one of the two women who died that night in the theater. Egedahl writes that she also was shot, and has pain and injuries that will never heal. She has tried to recover physically and emotionally, but has only been able to make it so far:
I have spent hours in therapy and with psychiatrists, only to realize that my mental health is degrading and something more must be done. My high points are now barely functioning, and my low points are completely terrifying.
The lack of support survivors of mass shootings receive is an issue that has begun to frustrate me to no end. After the shooting, the City of Lafayette raised money for the families of the women killed and the survivors, but that was quickly drained after medical costs and months of therapy. The theater had my husband sign an agreement that he wouldn’t sue them while I was still in ICU. He had no idea what he was signing, and did not receive counsel on any of it.
Egedahl writes that she’s going to try inpatient treatment, but needs financial assistance to do so.
(You can find a link to Morgan Egedahl’s GoFundMe here.)
Any money raised beyond what is needed for her treatment will be donated to Gun Violence Survivors Foundation. http://gvsfoundation.org/
PTSD and gun violence are highly misunderstood not only in our media, but in our culture, as I am sure you are all aware. I feel a responsibility for beginning to help educate and inform the public on what PTSD really looks like, how it can hide in plain sight, and how damaging and detrimental the effects of gun violence can be. Years can pass, and the survivor may still live the day in question 100 times over or more.
Someone may look and act as though everything is just fine, and they are crumbling on the inside. This is what trying to survive looks like.
One bullet acts like a virus; it doesn’t just infect the body it hits. It spreads illness and disease into the bodies and hearts of everyone associated with the victim. I was the only member of my family in the theater that night, but for 3.5 years, the trauma of those few hours has infected everyone who knows and loves me.
This is me, trying to fight back.
GVS Foundation provides an array of services, addressing specific needs facing a survivor of gun violence in America. They are not involved in gun control or firearm debates, she writes.
The Advocate interviewed Egedahl, if you’d liked to read that story click here.
If you’d like to help Egedahl, click here.