September 08, 2019
Two years ago, Michelle Martin was getting an early night at her home in east London when someone unexpectedly hammered on the front door.
This Is What Its Like If You Witness A Knife Crime Attack
She assumed her son had forgotten his key, but seconds later she heard the word “stabbed” as her son’s girlfriend opened the door downstairs. She flew down the stairs, just in time to see her next-door neighbour’s son collapse in her hallway.
The teenager, aged 17, had been stabbed in the back with a samurai sword.
Martin, who lives in Leyton, is not alone in coming face-to-face with the dreadful consequences of the continuingknife crime crisis affecting the country.
As offences soar, police chiefs have described the situation as a “national emergency”, and a growing number of people – fromthe emergency services to school teachers – are becoming entangled as bystanders to the epidemic.
Last year, 285 people died from knife attacks in England and Wales – the highest number since the Home Office began keeping track of homicide statistics in 1946. Many more have suffered horrific injuries. The victims are increasingly young people. New NHS data show a 93% increase in the number of young people targeted by knives – up from 180 hospital admissions in 2012-13 to 347 in 2017-18.I lifted up his shirt, and literally I could see his spine. I gasped but realised he could hear me so I said, ‘Don’t worry darling, you’re going to be fine’.Stabbings often occur in public places, in full sight of bystanders, and the effects of  violent crime on the people who witness it, or who are present in the immediate aftermath, can be profound. HuffPost UK spoke to a number of people who have witnessed knife attacks to find out about the lasting impact on their lives.
For Martin, the memories are still as vivid now as when she ran to help Kai in 2017. She had known the teenager, who is now 19, since his childhood. He has requested his surname to be withheld for this article. 
That night Kai had knocked on doors at random trying to find someone to help him after his attack. He had been stabbed while running away from an altercation involving a friend. Martin says it was just bad luck as he had been behind his friends and therefore closer to the assailant. 
Martin was later told by doctors that if her son’s girlfriend hadn’t opened the door when she did, Kai would have bled to death. When Martin came downstairs, she instantly realised how serious the situation was and took charge, stemming the blood from Kai’s wound, which was so deep his spine was exposed, and calling both 999 and Kai’s mother.
“I was getting frustrated with the 999 people, because they were asking questions like, ‘What’s his date of birth?’ and ‘Where does he live?’, and I was f-ing and blinding and shouting what to do, as I didn’t know any first aid.
“I lifted up his shirt, and literally I could see his spine. I gasped but realised he could hear me so I said, ‘Don’t worry darling, you’re going to be fine’.”
Kai’s mother arrived but became hysterical, thinking her son was dead. The paramedics also got to the scene soon after and took over Kai’s care, but Martin continued to hold his hand until the moment he was put into the ambulance. She gets emotional when talking about how he told her he would never forget what she had done for him. 
Now fully recovered after a painful rehabilitation period, he regularly bumps into Martin in the neighbourhood and when he does he always thanks her again for everything she did to help save his life.
In the immediate aftermath, Martin’s friends and neighbours were quick to call her a hero on social media, but it took her a few days before the enormity of what had happened sunk in.
She remembers when two days later the police finally gave her permission to clean her hallway, she laughed at the sight of Kai’s friends, usually “too cool for school”, coming around with mops and buckets, wearing rubber gloves to clear the blood up.
But when she went to visit the teenager in hospital she “really broke down”, as he was taken to have surgery, and she realised how close he had been to dying. 
Before long, Martin began to feel really depressed and looking back she wishes she had sought professional help through a counselling service. It’s still something she is considering. 
“I thought I was OK, but I wasn’t,” she says. “I would be walking around or be in Asda and I would just start crying. 
Although her life hasn’t been severely disrupted by the experience, it’s never far from her mind. “Little things changed, like I leave my hallway light on now, because I thought we were the only ones who answered the door and everyone else’s lights were off. I also now always wear a proper nightie to bed, because I’d just been in a t-shirt.” The memories of a similar incident are also vivid for 17-year-old Courtney Powdrill.
It was a winter’s night in Luton in 2017 when the sound of people shouting outside prompted Powdrill, then 15, to peek out through her living-room curtain. “I’m a bit nosy,” she confesses.
She couldn’t believe what she saw. A group of young people were chasing a boy, before rounding on him and stabbing him until he fell to the ground.
“There were two of them that had a blade,” she says. “One stabbed him in his back, and the other stabbed him in his leg. I saw his body twist and drop to the floor. I was quite shocked. Your brain is asking you, ‘Is this real?’”
Like Martin, she also leapt into action, yelling for her mum to call for an ambulance while running outside. Powdrill had recently completed first aid training with charity organisation St John Ambulance, so she realised the boy’s tight-fitting jacket was absorbing much of the blood from the wound in his back. She made the decision not to move him for fear he would bleed out.
Powdrill asked a passerby to hold the boy’s neck in case he had a spinal injury and focused on stemming the blood from the stab wound on his leg until paramedics arrived and took over.
Although she doesn’t know much about the teenager, she heard he survived the attack and in September last year, she was recognised for her courage and quick-thinking at the St John Ambulance ‘Everyday Heroes’ awards. But the horrors of that night – and the fear of a retaliatory attack from the gang involved – still haunt her.
“I still think about how it felt and how I acted,” she says. “I was so calm when it first started. I was on it. But when it stopped, that’s when the adrenalin started slowly going and I started shaking. I have never felt like that in my life. I still think about the shaking. I was just crying and bawling my eyes out.
“The police officers then came in. I couldn’t even get my words out when talking to them because I was so shaken up. I wasn’t making sense. I was gibbering.”
But the experience has made Powdrill feel more confident about handling tough situations – including an incident a few months after the stabbing when a man collapsed in front of her in a McDonald’s. 
The experience has also influenced her choice of future career. She is currently an Army cadet and hopes to eventually become a combat medic.
Support for victims and witnesses is something that Tory peer Baroness Newlove has been campaigning for ever since her husband Garry was beaten to death by a gang of youths in Warrington in 2007.
In 2012 she was appointed the Victim’s Commissioner, a post she held until June this year.
Garry was attacked outside the family home after going outside to confront a gang of youths he suspected of vandalising his wife’s car. The youths punched and kicked the 47-year-old to the ground, causing fatal injuries. Newlove’s eldest daughter later told the court at the trial that they had kicked his head “like a football”. Afterwards, Newlove and her three daughters tried to save him, but he died in hospital two days later, having never regained consciousness.
Newlove, who is now patron of Resolve, a charity tackling anti-social behaviour and community safety, has been closely following the knife crime epidemic and is concerned that the “human side” of the story is being lost when policy is discussed.Although her husband was not killed by a knife, she has met many families affected by knife crime during her work. She believes communities which experience violence or murder don’t have a proper voice in the debate and are not considered during decisions by those in power.
“As someone who has gone through it, I really get it,” she tells HuffPost UK. “The media comes and goes, politicians come and go. Everybody walks away. But what support is there for the communities?”
Newlove says she received a lot of support after her husband was murdered, but the attack had a much wider impact, and this is something policy makers often don’t factor in. She says many people, like Michelle Martin, do suffer afterwards, and they are not given proper support to deal with the aftermath.
“The people in Warrington, people I never knew, were suffering too,” she adds. “They never thought it would happen where they live. I just think that’s the bit we’ve got to look at.”
Martin agrees that there is a lack of support for those who get caught up in violent crime, like she did.
“There was nothing there for us. The police were good, but there was no advice about counselling or a suggestion to go to victim’s support,” she says.
“I was very sad for a long time and really questioning what life was about,” Martin says. “I just couldn’t understand why people are so cruel. It’s taken a long time to get over.”
Michelle Martin is a columnist for HuffPost UK.Related... Youth To Lobby Home Office With 'Real' Knife Crime Solutions - Written In Chicken Boxes If You’re Stabbed In The Street, This Is What Happens In The Seconds, Minutes And Hours After The Real Reasons Why Black Boys Are Falling To Violent Crime In London Don’t Blame School Exclusions For Rise In Knife Crime, Watchdog Says
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