Sandy Hook survivor's advice for those affected by Christchurch terror attack

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 March 2019, 11:42AM
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lays a wreath at a Kilbirnie mosque following the Christchurch terror attack. Photo / Getty Images

A Sandy Hook survivor has offered her advice on how to move forward and heal after a mass shooting. 

On 14 December 2012, 20 children and six adults were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

It was an attack that shocked the world, but it was a million times worse for the community and those inside the school who survived.

Kaitlyn Roig-Debellis is the Year 1 teacher who saved her class of 15 six-and-seven-year-olds from the gunman, by piling them into a single-occupancy bathroom within her classroom, mere feet from the brutal massacre taking place outside the door.

Kaitlyn wrote about her experience in a memoir called "Choosing Hope".

She told Kerre McIvor every time there is another shooting, it takes her back to her own experience.

"It's so difficult to wrap your mind around how there can be so many hateful feelings that people feel their only option is hurting someone else."

Roig-Debellis said after Sandy Hook, her sense of safety was gone.

"I could not go anywhere in public, I could not leave my home alone, I could not stay home alone. I was just terrified of life, I was terrified that something horrible would happen at any second because now, of course, I knew that it could."

She said in the aftermath she was constantly asking herself why it happened.

"Why did it happen? Why our school I particular? Why innocent lives, 20 of whom were babies, six and seven-year-old children, why?"

"What I came to realise what that I was never going to be able to answer the why. Not then, not now, not ever, those questions will never be answered."

However, she said there are questions that can be answered and it's important to focus on them.

"I stopped focusing so hard on why and I started focusing on what could be done and I found a lot of strength in that."

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