for survivors, scars and “lifelong” nightmares

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There is the physical, nagging, haunting pain. And then the moral suffering, “abysmal”. At the trial of the January 2015 attacks, the survivors of Charlie Hebdo this week recounted their difficult reconstruction, punctuated by “nightmares” and “anxiety attacks”.

Webmaster for the satirical weekly, Simon Fieschi lost seven centimeters in the attack. Blame it on a Kalashnikov bullet fired at point blank range by the Chérif brothers and Saïd Kouachi, which lodged in his spine.

“The pains are lifelong. You can’t get rid of it,” said the thirty-something, who has spent nine months in hospital and can no longer move without the help of a crutch. . “Now I have to do lifelong rehabilitation work.”

Facing the Special Assize Court of Paris, Simon Fieschi evokes pell-mell the “tremors” in the legs, the “loss of motor skills”, the “difficulties of concentration”, “the episodes of sadness and anger” …

“I am in post-trauma and I will stay there all my life (…) It is an everyday psychological effort, an abyssal fatigue”, confides the webmaster, who has chosen to continue his work at “Charlie “, but” part-time “now.

Wounded by bullets, miraculously, relatives and friends … “None of us escaped what happened”, explains in a deep voice Laurent Sourisseau, said Riss, publication director of the weekly , which evokes a “collective drama”.

– “Amputation” –

Since the start of the trial, which opened on September 2, the director of “Charlie” – shot in the shoulder in the attack – has attended all the proceedings, seated at the back of the room, quiet. At the helm, he evades nothing of the suffering experienced by his team.

“The immediate sensation after the attack is to have been cut in two, as if you were deprived of a part of you,” says Riss, who describes the feeling of “emptiness” created by the killing, in which 10 people were killed.

“It’s another mutilation, perhaps even more terrible than that of bodies: it’s an amputation”, loose the designer, haunted for five years by the image of his “friend” Charb lying inert in the bathroom. writing.

Columnist for the weekly, Sigolène Vinson also has to fight with memories and visions of the apocalypse. “This attack, it is in me, as embodied in my skin”, loose the ex-lawyer, who witnessed “powerless” to the killing.

After the tragedy, the journalist had the same nightmare for a long time: Hayat Boumeddiene, companion of the Hyper Cacher killer Amédy Coulybaly, shooting him “a crossbow bolt in the forehead”. Today she lives by the sea and tries to rebuild herself.

Despite the weather, “the wounds did not heal”, notes Patrick Pelloux, emergency doctor and ex-columnist for “Charlie”, who arrived at the scene of the tragedy just minutes after the attack.

– “Assigned to residence” –

He too experiences a diffuse feeling of frustration and helplessness, which struggles to dissipate. “It’s difficult because when you do medicine, it’s to save people. And if there were any that I wanted to save, it was them,” he sighs.

How long will this suffering last? Will the “lack” end up fading? Widow of Frédéric Boisseau, the maintenance agent killed by the Kouachi brothers at the very beginning of the attack, Catherine Gervasoni has little hope.

“If they take prison, we, we took until our last days”, loose the fifties, in reference to the 14 defendants tried for having provided logistical support to the Kouachi brothers and Amédy Coulibaly, killed during assaults by the police.

This feeling of confinement, for the survivors of Charlie Hebdo, is amplified by a cluster of security constraints: permanent police protection, work in secret premises …

“It’s as if I was under house arrest. I have to warn of everything I do,” says Riss, who had to give up with his partner to engage in a child adoption procedure, incompatible with his situation.

To hold, Simon Fieschi tries him “not to make too much comparison between before and after” and not to regard himself as a “victim”. “The victim has rights, we have duties: the duty to bear witness to what weapons of war do”.

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