Some survivors will find peace and healing in Bali 2002 – but others might find the series triggering
At around 11 p.m. on October 12, 2002, the first of three separate bombs went off when a suicide bomber entered Paddy’s Bar in Kuta, Bali.
Another bomb exploded shortly after in front of the Sari nightclub, before a final explosion in front of the American consulate.
Stan’s new series, Bali 2002, looks at these attacks and their aftermath. Physical and emotional trauma manifests with desperation and intensity.
The series also shows how our humanity comes out to shine in desperate and violent times. It shows friends helping friends, people helping strangers, doctors on holiday rushing to the hospital to lend a hand, and the Australian Federal Police’s directive to help everyone – not just donate. priority to Australians.
While the creators of the series are to be commended for their close consultation with the survivors of the attacks while making the series, this dramatization highlights the very public nature of terrorism. This public nature can have very personal impacts.
In my research into the events of that night and their aftermath, I spoke to many people who were there or who lost someone in the attack.
Some survivors will find comfort in this sharing of their stories; others will struggle with public commemoration.
Some people affected by terrorism find that telling their story can harm their health and well-being. It locks them into a time and place of pain and suffering.
For others, telling their stories and the experiences, lives and deaths of loved ones is an important part of their healing process.
Kev Paltridge lost his son Corey in the Bali bombings. He told me that the closure was “bullshit” and that he still had “bad shitty days”.
But he also said that every time he tells his story, it helps him.
Kev isn’t afraid of the darker side of his healing journey – the three years of heavy drinking, his continued pain and grief for Corey – because he knows there are those who were there who drink. yet and haven’t found an alternative path yet.
He hopes his story will help others as much as it helps him.
Reporter Nick Way was at the site of the Sari Club bombing hours after it happened. He then worked as one of the producers of the documentary Cry Bali. During this process, working closely with survivors and their families, he told me, “I learned that very often, expressing feelings is part of the healing journey. »
Read more: The site of the Bali bombings has been vacant land for 16 years. It’s time to build a real memorial
Before and after
When a terrorist attack occurs, the media can create a sense of “victim” identity, which divides a person’s life into life before and after the terror, as if they were born at that time. the.
Bali 2002 buys in this division. This gives our survivors little time before the event, and these characters feel superficial.
The series also struggles to strike the right balance between terrorist and survivor stories. Too much attention is paid to the individuals who have undertaken these attacks. More important are the stories of victims, survivors, family members and first responders.
For some survivors I spoke to, the trailer alone triggered traumatic reactions. Their ability to watch the series is questionable.
The series weaves a dramatization of events alongside real footage. This raw footage adds realism, but the use of this footage goes unreported, and it could trigger even survivors who might feel ready to watch a dramatized version of events.
Bali 2002 is published before the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
In my research, I found that recognizing and remembering these events on fewer and more “meaningful” anniversaries disavows the experience of living with terror after experiencing an event.
All of the survivors I’ve spoken to endure every day. Kev told me he talks to his son “every morning without fail”.
This endurance must be recognized and acknowledged.
The stories of their survival could have been stories of revenge and hatred and of promoting more violence.
Instead, I overwhelmingly found these stories to be about hope and responsibility.
Nick told me he was thinking “of building a new future for people who feel oppressed and disadvantaged so that they can be [less] open to radicalization.
These are not sugary stories about closure, forgiveness, or forgetting. It’s about living with it and promoting awareness of the effects these attacks have on people’s daily lives.
Read more: Remembering the Bali bombings ten years later
Every person I have spoken to is still deeply affected by their experience.
Bali 2002 takes us to the weeks before the 2005 death attack on bomb maker Husin. Viewers with little connection to the event will more than likely walk away without understanding how survivors, their family members and first responders are still affected two decades later.
A terrorist attack is a moment when one is rendered powerless. They are subject to the will of the terrorist. It is so outside of normal daily experiences that it can cause a profound shift in identity.
My research shows that survivors of terrorism, their family members, and first responders need to find a way to incorporate the experience into their current lives.
Sometimes they walk the tightrope gracefully and are well balanced, other times they can’t find their balance and dangle dangerously over the abyss.
I hope some will find peace and healing in broadcasting Bali 2002 and sharing these stories, but not everyone will.
Bali 2002 airs on Stan from September 25.
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