Sunday marks the sixth anniversary of the 49 people killed at Pulse nightclub, and the memories of that night can still be a tough subject to approach for many people in Orlando and around the world.
“It affected everyone in the community, one way or another,” says Olga Molina, an associate professor of social work at UCF.
Six years later, the pain still can be very real for people and they may still need time to process and recover from their experience, especially around the tragedy date, Molina says.
“It’s not something you can say ‘Get over it,’ ” she says. “This experience is going to be a long-term life experience for these survivors.”
George Jacinto, a retired associate professor of social work, says trauma can be experienced in a variety of ways, and it is not exclusive to only those who experienced the shooting first-hand.
“Many may experience secondary trauma, including relatives, close friends, first responders, those providing psychotherapy and assistance to those who were injured, killed or present during the events,” he says.
What to Look for in Others
It is important that people are aware of how trauma can manifest in different ways in people.
“People who have gone through trauma tend to isolate themselves,” Molina says. “For others, it means going back to their therapist because sometimes the memories are unbearable and lead to nightmares, not being able to sleep at night, anxiety, depression and startled responses.”
Tracy Wharton, a former faculty member in the School of Social Work who provided support and counseling services after the Pulse shooting, advises that people ask questions when they notice a friend or family member’s behavior beginning to change or they start talking about death or revenge.
“There is a myth that if you ask, you’re giving them ideas,” she says. “And that’s wrong; you should ask questions. The taboo we have about reaching out to help, that has to end, that has to stop.”
Where to Go for Help
Even more than showing love and support to those around you, it is important to show yourself love and support as you process your grief and emotions, Wharton says.
“You have to grieve. You have those emotions and that is normal,” she says. “Be kind to yourself. Just take a moment and take a deep breath or two.”
If you need additional help, here are the resources available for students.
Offers free, comprehensive psychological services for all currently enrolled students.
Crisis hotline: 407-823-2811
Offers free, confidential and 24/7 advocacy and support for all members of the UCF community.
A clinical research center dedicated to the study of all facets of anxiety, trauma and PTSD.
Connects students to opportunities, resources and other students to achieve the vision of a stronger and more equitable world for LGBTQ+ people and allies.
For off-campus resources that are available to the public, check out the following.
Orlando United Counseling
Offers confidential, personalized, long-term counseling to anyone impacted by the Pulse nightclub shootings.
Offers free walk-in counseling on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Offers counseling services in English and Spanish.
Offers free and conditional emotional support 24/7 to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.