Brit, 19, is going on his first vacation since he was caught in a beach attack in Tunisia
A British teenager left with serious PTSD after being caught in the Tunisian terrorist attack in 2015, went on vacation and visited a beach for the first time since.
Millie Twells, from Derbyshire, went on holiday in July this year with mother Zoe to Rhodes in Greece, where she confronted her fears by putting on a bikini and posing for photos on the sand.
It is a remarkable milestone for Millie, now 19, who had multiple panic attacks a day and was unable to live in public places after witnessing people killed in the ISIS attack of just 15 years old.
Millie Twells, now 19, posed on the beach in Rhodes, Greece, in July of this year when she went on her first vacation since she was entangled in the beach attack of Tunisia in 2015
Millie was on the second day of a family vacation in Tunisia with mother Zoe (photo) when ISIS shooter Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire and killed 38 people – 30 British
Zoe (left) told how she left Millie to take her bag from a sunbed when the shooting started and was separated from the 15-year-old at the time of the slaughter
Millie said after the holidays that she & # 39; finally closed the chapter & # 39; and is ready to continue her life.
She said: & # 39; I just wanted to go to the beach and do what other people take for granted.
& # 39; It was a form of therapy for me, such as taking back the power. I wanted to experience it again knowing that nothing would happen.
& # 39; Holidays have always been the best time of the year, you are excited all year round and Tunisia has taken that away from me.
& # 39; This vacation felt like closing a chapter about it. In general I am really proud of myself. & # 39;
Millie was on the second day of a vacation to Tunisia in June 2015 with mother Zoe and stepfather Paul when ISIS jihadi Seifeddine Rezgui launched a gun and grenade attack at the seaside town of Port El Kantaoui.
He shot tourists on the beach with an AK47 rifle before entering the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel, where Millie and her family were staying, to continue the massacre.
Rezgui was eventually shot by security forces in a street close to a neighboring hotel. He killed a total of 38 people, including 30 British.
Zoe explained: “We had just done aerobics in the pool and Millie was laid down to play darts outside on the side of the pool.
& # 39; I said within ten minutes because we were all soaked. I would go back to the sunbed and get my bag. It was on the other side of the pool.
& # 39; I was just there and then the shots started. They were & # 39; pop pop pop & # 39; sounds to begin with.
& # 39; I immediately knew what it was. It was full of machine gun fire and people had started running from the beach. & # 39;
Recalling the massacre, Zoe, 46 said, "He came up, shot and ran into the hotel."
& # 39; I assumed Paul was with Millie because they were on the other side of the pool – I thought they would go to the other side of the hotel together.
Millie (pictured this year in Greece) was also divorced from stepfather Paul and came frighteningly close to the shooter before locking herself up in an office with 15 others
Millie remembered shouting when people were shot outside the door of the office where she was hiding and had to walk through a pool of blood to get out again when the attack ended
& # 39; A few people were killed while we were running. I entered the hotel. A lot of people were walking down the corridor that led to the indoor pool, but I didn't go there because I thought I'd meet Paul and Millie in the lobby.
& # 39; But I came and there was nobody. & # 39;
Zoë, a commercial manager, was thrown to an office near the hotel's gift shop and stayed there while Rezgui continued his bloodshed, firing a Kalashnikov and tossing grenades.
Despite Zoe & # 39; s hope, Millie had actually been separated from Paul and had run into the hotel in a different way, but he was dead.
While gunshots raged, she was forced to double back, skirting close to the shooter.
When she reached the lobby, a man told her to go behind the reception and they went up the stairs.
Millie and the man were chased by Rezgui, who shot three people in the hallway behind them, but fifteen others brought in an office that barricaded themselves and locked them up, hoping the shooter would think it was empty.
Rezgui indeed tried the door, but walked down the corridor after he could not open it.
Millie said: & # 39; Everyone was waiting there to be killed and I tried to figure out how to get out.
& # 39; I remember being put on my front and it felt like I was getting off the ground because of the speed with which my heart beat.
& # 39; I kept telling myself that at least if I were to die it would be quick and would not hurt. & # 39;
Six weeks after the return of the vacation (photo, Millie & # 39; s family sunbathing at the resort on the day of the attack) Millie suffered her first panic attack, and was diagnosed with PTSD
Meanwhile, in another room not far away, Zoe had called her mother in Derby who had contacted British counter-terrorists. They were with her mother within fifteen minutes, where Zoë could quietly explain to them what was going on.
When the police told the guests everything, Zoe & # 39; s desperate search for Millie began, but she had no idea what she would see if she left her hiding place.
& # 39; I started running through the hotel looking for Millie and Paul, & # 39; she remembered.
& # 39; I went back, saw bodies on the stairs, and then I came back. It was absolutely surreal.
& # 39; I can't remember how long it was, but in the end I was back in the lobby and then I saw Paul, but he didn't have Millie. & # 39;
She described the pain of not knowing where Millie was and said: “It was physical pain. The worst thing I've ever felt in my entire life.
& # 39; Paul said that he was already behind him and that he had checked every body and that she was not there. & # 39;
Paul was divorced from Millie and had run to a neighboring hotel. He was not far from the terrorist when he was shot.
Millie then got stuck through a door behind the reception with a ladies hand.
Frantic Zoe said: “The only thing that was wrong with her was that she had had blood on her feet.
& # 39; I started checking her everywhere and this woman explained that the reason they had had blood on their feet was that two people were killed outside the room where they were hiding, so they had to walk through it.
& # 39; Millie was in shock. I grabbed her and hugged her and there was no real response. & # 39;
After spending hours in the hotel, the trio were told that three planes had been chartered to bring victims back to Britain.
Millie was desperate to return to their home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
From that moment their life would never be the same again.
Zoë and Paul were offered therapy, but their psychologists could not treat Millie because she was a minor.
Millie (center, with mother Zoe, left and stepfather Paul, right) suffered panic attacks almost daily and struggled to deal with public spaces in the aftermath of her trauma
In July of this year, she went to Greece for a 10-day break with her mother and insisted on going to the beach, saying it felt like & # 39; closing the chapter & # 39; of the attack
No specialized terror psychologists were available and normal therapy made the teenager worse.
She needed eight months out of school, missed many of her GCSE lessons, and got her first panic attack six weeks later.
Millie said: & # 39; I was in shock perhaps a month later when I had my first panic attack on August 7.
& # 39; After that it was always flashbacks, I felt the blood on my feet, heard the screams, I never got rid of it. I could not perform simple tasks.
& # 39; I remember going to Nandos once, it was the first time I went out, but we had to leave immediately. It was too loud and we just couldn't handle it.
& # 39; I would constantly feel myself panicking. If I say that I have never had a break, I honestly have never had a break. & # 39;
The youngster lost a stone and a half and could not eat or think clearly.
& # 39; I felt guilty that I had survived while other people had not, & # 39; she said.
& # 39; That was the most important thing. I don't feel it so often anymore, because I now accept it. I was unable to save other people.
& # 39; I was in an office space and there were people outside yelling and I could do nothing to help.
& # 39; I felt: "Why did I survive?" I had to remain silent while other people died. & # 39;
Zoe added: & # 39; Life becomes normal after something like that. For a while we thought we would try to keep going, but it just doesn't work.
& # 39; Millie was very anxious. She was afraid of everything.
& # 39; She had multiple panic attacks every day. It was horrible. We could not get any help. & # 39;
Millie managed to sit seven GCSE & # 39; s – four Bs and three C & # 39; s – but was diagnosed with PTSD.
In March 2016, Zoe was asked to go to a memorial day for victims of terrorism in Brussels.
There she met representatives of the Omagh Support & Self Help Group (OSSHG), a charity founded in the aftermath of the Omagh Bomb in 1998.
They paid for Millie to follow a new ambassador program in New York in May 2017 with the charity Strength to Strength, which brings together young survivors of terrorism.
At that moment, Millie began to heal from the trauma when she found comfort in talking to people who had been in similar situations.
She also decided that she wanted to study in America, where she could come close to those she thought she understood.
Last year she received five offers from colleges in New York and chose to follow a media education at Five Towns College in Long Island.
Millie said: “The support is just not really there for me here in the UK. I found my community in New York. It is my home. & # 39;
And Zoe added: & # 39; The reason she chose New York was because it was the only place where she felt safe and understood. & # 39;
In her summer vacation this year, Millie and Zoe chose to travel to Greece after Zoe & # 39; s father fell ill and they could not go on vacation they had booked.
Amazingly, Millie decided that she wanted to sit down with her mother.
Despite a few anxious moments, they say they had a great time.
Millie added: & # 39; I underestimated it a bit. I had not been on vacation for four years, so it was a while ago. I had tried not to think about it before I got there.
& # 39; I knew it would have some sort of impact, but I just didn't know how much.
& # 39; I didn't want to let terrorism win, because at some point I couldn't even leave my house to think about going on vacation to a seaside resort.
And Zoe said she was intensely proud of her girl.
She added: & # 39; I am incredibly proud of Millie. She is incredible.
& # 39; The first day she arrived, she was lying on a sunbed and within the hour she said: & # 39; I want to go to the beach. & # 39; I was like & # 39; wow & # 39 ;.
& # 39; She took off her slippers and went straight into the sea.
& # 39; With PTSD, everything makes you anxious. It happened. It is a memory. It will shape her.
& # 39; But it has also made her more determined. Millie says there are people who don't have that chance of life. Someone her age now died in Tunisia and she wants to live for them. & # 39;
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