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Fear, friends and fragments: how one Bataclan survivor is rebuilding his life

Fear, friends and fragments: how one Bataclan survivor is rebuilding his life
By Christophe Garach
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It’s two years since ISIL-inspired gunmen killed 90 people at a Paris music venue.


Benjamin Vial was near the door where gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall in Paris and murdered 90 people on November 13, 2015.

Vial miraculously managed to escape unhurt.

His injuries are arguably more psychological: he has told French media about the gruesome carnage he witnessed that night.

Two years on, he has spoken to Euronews about how he has written a book to help him come to terms with the massacre.

You have just published a book called Post Traumatic Fragments. It is a rather painful account of your slow and long resurrection. How are you today?*

Benjamin Vial: “Today I’m doing pretty well. It has been a long journey to regain confidence in life and in the space around me.

Reading your book we see your view of the world has inevitably changed. What is that allowed you to escape yourself? Music, friends, literature?

Benjamin Vial: “Very quickly we realise that the links with many things are no longer there and that we must rewire our environment. Whether that’s with our friends or with everything that has been familiar to us before. I saw a lot of friends and partied a lot. It’s something that helped me a lot.”

Survivant du #Bataclan deux ans après BenjaminVial</a> est mon invité sur <a href="">Tv5monde#FragmentsPostTraumatiquesMichalonEditeur</a> <a href=""></a></p>— Patrick Simonin (PatrickSimonin) November 11, 2017

You say that you resisted before going to consult specialists to help you through all these problems. What was the trigger to make you go?

Benjamin Vial: “In fact, I no longer had a choice. Everything had escaped me. One month, one month-and-a-half after the attacks, I could not control anything anymore. I had completely uncontrolled reactions, irrational fears and I could not see any way out other than going back to consult the doctors I had visited from the beginning and who had told me that I didn’t have a need to see them.”

Each chapter of your book opens by chronicling other jihadist attacks committed around the world, almost day-by-day. Why this macabre account?

Benjamin Vial: “In fact, it was like a background sound to my life, a litany of attacks that took place around the world. It also allowed me to relate what had happened to me by telling myself that I was not the only one in this position. That it was not only in Paris, not only in France, not only in Europe, but that it was really global. It allowed me to give a kind of universality to it.”

Faced with this wave of terror, you could have descended into hatred and revenge. What held you back?

Firstly, I do not find it constructive. And it’s not my character and I do not see who I can blame. Of course, there are leaders, but what would that achieve?

You say there are many things that you have not written in this book. You do not talk much about the Paris terrorists. Are you waiting for a possible trial?

“I’m waiting to add pieces to my puzzle, to all the questions that I ask myself and that could continue to help me progress. It is true that I wouldn’t be unhappy to know why this target, this place, this day and this target. I would like to know, it’s curiosity, to know the way things come about, to continue to be able to construct the story of this attack.”

And do you think justice will prevail?

“I let justice do its work. I will not delude myself too much, though. I do not know anything.”

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