A Squad You Don’t Want To Be A Part Of: Bite Club
The support network for shark attack victims.
Apart from restricted movement in his arm and fingers and one hell of a scar, Dave Pearson was lucky. In 2011 a three metre bull shark had latched onto his arm, dragging him under the surface where he managed to break free, dash for shore and hope for the best. He would wait three long hours before assistance arrived to stop the severe bleeding and stabilise his condition.
Stories like these, and those much worse, are all-to familiar these days across surf and commercial media, (not saying we aren’t guilty here). One thing that isn’t often shared is the aftermath of these encounters, not just the physical rehabilitation involved but the painful mental hurdles as well. The flashbacks, trauma and alienation experienced can be just as daunting. Enter Bite Club, the three-hundred-strong community set up by Pearson, consisting exclusively of attack survivors. It’s a closed Facebook group where members can connect, share stories and support one another to recover from a uniquely challenging experience.
Some victims have reported struggles with relationships and addictive substances post-attack. “When survivors are released from hospital they’re often still in a lot of pain so given strong prescription drugs,” says Pearson in the Telegraph piece by Amy Molloy. “Combine that with alcohol and feeling alone… Some go into a quiet, depressive state and disappear off the radar.“
Members have even experienced backlash from the public in some cases, with cruel sentiments suggesting the victim was at fault in some way. “It’s like the old [attitude] when a girl was raped and people blamed her for dressing too sexily. Most surfers are trying to do the right thing. It’s not their fault. Some people in our group might want to go and kill every shark in the ocean, other people want to go into shark conservation. But we’re all trying to grow accustomed to a new normal.”
It’s unclear whether croc attack victims are welcome in the exclusive network.
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