Paris Terror Attack Survivor on the One-Year Anniversary: "I Hope People Never Forget Us"
This Sunday, Life for Paris is holding a ceremony to honor the victims and survivors of the tragedy.
On Nov. 13, one year will have passed since the terrorist attacks across Paris that left 130 dead and hundreds injured.
Caroline Langlade was in the Bataclan concert venue when terrorists opened fire during an Eagles of Death Metal concert, eventually killing 90 people. Since then, Langlade has devoted her time and energy to Life for Paris, an organization formed in the wake of the terrorist attacks to help victims get the support they need and share their strength and resilience with each other.
On Sunday, Life for Paris is holding a ceremony to honor the victims and survivors of the tragedy. There will be speeches, a panel discussion about dealing with shock after a traumatic experience, a moment of silence and musical performances, including a performance from a production of Godspell. You can find out more details about Life for Paris' plans here.
Ahead of the day of remembrance, Billboard spoke with Langlade about her work with Life for Paris, finding strength with her fellow survivors and why honoring the one-year anniversary of this tragedy matters. "I hope people never forget us," she says. "It's important for us. It's important for us to be supported by other countries and people around the world so we never feel alone."
Note: This interview was conducted in English, which is not Langlade's first language.
I don't want to make you talk about anything you don't want to, but I did want to ask the basics of your experience at the Bataclan. I understand you were on the balcony when it started?
I was on the balcony, but I don't like to speak about my personal experience. We had hundreds of people in the Bataclan that night; for me, my story is not any more important than any other.
It's nearly been a year. Does it feel like that long?
I feel like it was yesterday. I'm a little bit frightened … about a lot of things. Like going to cinema or concert, I can't do that again. It's like it's 10 years ago for some people, a lot of people are going out in their lives, so it's very strange. Sometimes I feel like, "Oh, my god, it's 100 years ago." When I remember all the things I'm doing [for Life for Paris], I realize it's been a year.
Has it helped to talk about it with people in Life for Paris?
Yeah. One thing that's very similar for everyone is we have a lot of white in our memory about this night. So everybody is like one piece of a puzzle and it's very important for us to find each other because we try to make the puzzle [complete], and it's a collective work. So we have to find everybody to be better after. One of the problems with a terrorist attack is you feel really alone after this kind of thing. You have a lot of injury, you feel very alone with your story. You feel very strange — you're not in normal society. To be collective is better. When you have one problem like, "I'm a little bit stressed, I can't sleep" and someone can say, "Yeah. I have the same and I did this medical or therapy [thing] and it helped me a lot." And you're like, "Oh, okay." So it's very important to be a group. We have a lot of people who come from other cities or the country or other countries. We try to make a lot of events with all the people who can come. And to help people set up [chapters] in their areas.
Have you returned to Bataclan since then?
We have organized with the victims of Bataclan some visits to give the possibility to come back to Bataclan to try to explain, to find some memories. A lot of people asked to do that. That was my first time going back, but I think to going to Bataclan for concert? Maybe one day, but not today. It's a bit too soon. It's too soon to go back to any concert for me. I can't actually go back.
Do you think you're better now than six months ago?
Oh, I don't know. It's one year ago, I feel like it was yesterday for me. I don't know. I hope one day, and I hope it's very soon, but I really don't know.
Well, you're helping other people, which is very impressive and brave.
It's very difficult for us. We have a lot of work to do about this. Because in France, psychological victims are considered … it's like, "Okay, you're frightened, take the pills and go out." No, no, it's a real physical injury because the brain is broken. It's just invisible. We're fighting about this with the French government. I hope they recognize this — actually people are not ready and they don't have good therapy. For me it's a very big fight. I hope we can find solution for the victims. And European victims [who aren't French] don't have any support; that's another fight with the ministry of foreign affairs. We have a lot of meetings with the French government, but it's difficult in France to find a solution, not all of the ministry can work together. We have a lot to do for people, we have a lot of injur, and I'm the same like everybody. I'm very anxious.
I saw you work in film for your career. Are you doing any of that now?
I make movies, that's my job, but I can't actually [now]. My creativity brain is broken. I can't be creative. It's like, it's broken, I have tried but I can't. I don’t know why. It's like, I'm blind, but for my brain. I can't be creative. I'm more better with other things. Maybe one day it comes back, I hope. And if it never comes back, it's okay, I can find another life. This is my new life, we have a lot to do for people. In another way, it is creative to find solutions for people and help them to not be enraged, to help them be positive. I hope one day we can build solidarity with humanity. It's a better way to fight the terrorists, I think. Maybe I'm like a magic pony, but I think it's a better way. Of course I'm angry, but it's my problem. I'm angry about what is happening, I'm terrified all the day, I feel sad some days, but I try to kick myself in the ass and help people.