Woman Who Pretended To Be Dead During Paris Attacks Pens Harrowing Post About It On Facebook
In the wake of Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks on several locations in Paris, survivors are coming out to tell their stories. On Saturday, concert-goer Isobel Bowdery posted a disturbing report of her experience of the violence at the Bataclan concert venue on Facebook; the 22-year-old South African woman pretended to be dead during the attack, which began when four gunmen opened fire on the concert hall, later taking dozens of hostages. Eighty-nine people were killed in the massacre. Bowdery’s post, which includes a photograph of a bloodied shirt she allegedly wore to the concert, gives a harrowing account of what it was like inside the Bataclan during the attack. She begins simply: “[Y]ou never think it will happen to you.”
Bowdery describes the scene before the attack as a fun, lively night out. She writes, “It was just a Friday night at a rock show. The atmosphere was so happy and everyone was dancing and smiling.” The night took a horrific turn:
[A]nd then when the men came through the front entrance and began the shooting, we naively believed it was all part of the show. It wasn't just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right in front of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends’ dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken. In an instant.
Bowdery says she pretended to be dead for over an hour, as the gunmen continued to shoot people:
Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless... Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry — not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn't. … [T]he images of those men circling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticulously aimed at shot people around the standing area I was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn't feel real. I expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare.
Bowdery recounts that, amidst the horror, there were true acts of bravery and kindness:
[B]eing a survivor of this horror lets me able to shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst I whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy I loved was dead, to the injured man who I had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors … — you make me believe this world has the potential to be better.
She dedicates the post to the dozens of people who didn’t survive, writing, “I feel privileged to be there for their last breaths.” She offers her perspective on what their final moments may have been like, explaining,
[T]ruly believing that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. Over and over again. Reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. To not let those men win.
Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people. To live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfill. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.
Bowdery’s post has gone viral in the days since the attack, garnering over 2.7 million “likes.” Hundreds of people have written comments to offer support and thank her for sharing her story.