Kay Wilson is a British-born Israeli tour guide, jazz musician and cartoonist. She is the survivor of a brutal terror attack. Since the attack she is a public speaker for StandWithUs and OneFamily Together. She has described her attack in a TedX talk.
Imagine what it is like…. to be stabbed. Most of you probably can’t.
Because I have.
With a machete.
Firstly, the word “stabbed” does not do the experience justice. In Hebrew it is even worse, because “stabbed” is the same word לדקור that one uses when being “pricked” by a needle.
Let’s start with what it feels like. In my case, it felt like a hot poker being bored into my flesh and each time he tugged out the serrated knife, I had the sensation that my bare skin was being raked over with razors. Maybe it would be easier for you to understand if I said it was a pain that felt like my finger nails were being ripped off, over and over again.
Then there is the adrenalin. This makes a body tremble, yet conversely it makes it heavy. Its rather like the moment when we only just escape being in a car wreck, or the sensation you feel when you are looking down from the edge of a cliff. Its like that. Your stomach turns and your blood drains from your head. It feels like this is happening, over and over again.
When the “stabbing” is over, there is the cold. The bone gelid, biting cold – due to shock. I remember even the warm December sun felt like ice on my flesh. Every “stabbing” survivor will have felt the cold of death.
Then there is the beating. He was hitting, smashing, pummelling, thumping me so hard. He broke over 30 bones. Many “stabbing” survivors have broken bones because of the force with which the attacker plunges the knife into their prey.
Then there are the visuals. In my case, I watched for half an hour two sadistic men, (who were once little boys) waving their machetes in the air, teasing us by putting it across their own throats. I remember the sun glinting off the knife, sparkling, flashing in the forest. I remember his dark eyes, dead eyes, indifferent with the sheer boredom of the up-and-coming execution of two innocent, defenceless women. Most of the recent victims did not face their attackers for half and hour, but even a second is enough – seeing that madness on their face, seeing that knife coming towards them – it’s enough; believe me, it’s enough. And watching someone being murdered, is a “sacred” experience, in the sense that you are seeing something that we were not born to see. This is the hardest emotion to even begin to describe. It will take me the rest of my life to articulate what it does to a person.
Then there is the taste. A dry mouth: an instant reaction that comes with shock. In my case when he knocked me to the ground, I landed on my face so there was blood in my mouth. There was also bile – one often throws up under extreme fear. I can guarantee that the “stabbing” survivors all had a dry mouth and some may have tasted bile.
Then there are the sounds: I heard my bones crunch. I heard my flesh rip. I heard him grunt and pant as he tried to beat me to death and hack me up with his meat cleaver. I heard them scream Allah HuAkbar, I heard myself say “Shema Israel,” and I heard my Christian friend whimper “Jesus help me.” It is terrible to be so helpless and hear someone you love, pray, scream and beg for their lives. It is a terrible thing to hear yourself do the same. Many of the latest “stabbing” survivors have also had the horror of helplessly watching those that they love be murdered in front of their eyes. Many have experienced the loss of self-dignity that comes with begging for your life.
There is more to being “stabbed” than meets the eye. I am sharing what it is like, not to invoke sympathy for myself, but rather arouse compassion and a desire to help the growing, daily number of Jewish people who are experiencing to some degree what I did. These are people whose lives will never be the same again, no matter how lightly, moderately or seriously wounded they are.
This is terrorism.
And this, for the survivor, is only the beginning…..