HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The Virginia Tech tragedy left 33 dead and dozens injured. Kristina Anderson was one of those injured. The 19-year-old was shot several times while in class. She says it’s taken several years to understand how not to relive it every day.
“I’ve spoken to a therapist in excruciating detail for years,” Anderson said. “So, at this point, I’ve made sure that anything I say I’ve already processed, and spoken about, cried about, with a trained professional.”
Now, Anderson visits schools across the nation, including Marshall University Tuesday. Anderson says she’s providing first-hand knowledge of the threats schools currently face. Her message is, “Lessons Learned as a Survivor of the Virginia Tech Tragedy.”
“In the case of Virginia Tech, we had about two-and-a-half years of behaviors that were not really reported or shared,” Anderson said.
She says she tells schools to take note of faculty and students who may pose a risk to themselves or others.
“It can feel very awkward to say, ‘I think my roommate might hurt themselves,’ or ‘I think that teacher is going through a hard time,’” Anderson said.
She says it’s imperative when people know something isn’t right they tell someone because getting resources to someone who needs help, making them feel connected ahead of time, decreases the chances of violence.
In 2007, Marshall University did what colleges all over the nation did. They held a ceremony at the memorial fountain. Anderson says that support still means something today.
“It brings a little bit of a tear,” Anderson said. “I told you I was going to start crying because it means to much to think that others, they didn’t know us, they didn’t know the students, that they prayed, that they made signs, that they gathered and took that time to share in our pain, in our grief.”
Anderson says time does heal, but adds it’s important to never forget because that’s how you work to prevent it from happening again.
For more information about Anderson’s foundation you can visit her website.