Monday, June 12, marks the seventh 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.
Seven 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.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
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.
Hispanic Family Counseling</a
Offers counseling services in English and Spanish.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Offers free and conditional emotional support 24/7 to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
For those looking to gather with others affected by the tragedy, the following events are open to the public.
Orange County Regional Museum Pulse Exhibit Tour | June 12 | Noon-2 p.m.
The tour will provide a safe space for contemplation, remembrance, and healing as we stand together in support of the affected individuals, their families and the wider LGBTQ+ community. Please note that space is limited, and registration is required to secure your spot. Sign up at bit.ly/3C88e1G
Student Union, Starbucks, & Pride Commons Acts of Love and Kindness | June 13 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
“Acts of Love & Kindness” is a homegrown movement that inspires the Central Florida community, and beyond, to spread love and kindness by supporting those in need. Stop by any of the locations and write down your commitments to spread love and kindness on different colored hearts. These hearts will be assembled into a rainbow flag that will be displayed at the breakfast the following morning.
Fairwinds Alumni Center Remembrance Breakfast | June 14| 9-11:30 a.m.
Campus partners and community members will unite to provide their heartfelt words of support, understanding, and encouragement. Together, we will create a space of compassion and empathy, fostering healing and reflection. Breakfast and refreshments will be provided.