Rachael Pacella had been doing better. No longer did any little sound—the buzz of a cell phone, a door opening—cause her, to twitch. She wasn’t freezing in crosswalks.
The therapy and medication helped. So did a pottery class. Anything to take her mind off that day.
Then Pacella retraumatized herself. In February, she testified before a state legislative committee in support of a bill that would regulate rifles and shotguns. It was an unusual situation for an environment reporter, but then Pacella works for the Capital newspaper of Annapolis, Md. She related how on June 28, 2018, she was in the newspaper’s office, heard a pop and saw a glass door shatter. How she crouched under her desk. How she made a run for it, but slipped and slammed her face into a door. The shooter had barricaded that exit, so Pacella, 28, hid between two filing cabinets. She tried to control her heavy breathing. She hoped the shooter wouldn’t notice the blood from her forehead, streaked on a partition above her hiding spot. The shots were getting closer. Pacella whimpered. Dear God, she thought. What if he heard me? She clamped her hand over her mouth.