Listen: Bristol Unpacked with filmmaker Aodh Breathnach on surviving being stabbed – and documenting the aftermath

Content warning: audio contains graphic discussions of violence

Eight years ago, filmmaker Aodh Breathnach was stabbed multiple times during a night out on Stokes Croft, and rushed in a taxi to the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Aodh was lucky. He recovered from injuries to his head and body within a few weeks and tried to put the attack out of his mind, deleting photos from his phone and throwing away the clothes he had been wearing.

But the mental scars the stabbing inflicted proved far more resistant to healing, leaving him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): night terrors, panic attacks and an ever-present feeling of fear.

The aftermath of trauma led Aodh into therapy and, several years later, to make a documentary based on his experience – and that of other people who have been victims of knife crime, which has become tragically common in Bristol and other cities. 

As part of the process, Aodh went as far as meeting his attacker to explore the impact of restorative justice. Can this technique, in which the survivors, their families and perpetrators of crime open up channels of communication, begin to repair the terrible harm that knife crime incidents cause? What support is out there to help people move on from the impact of PTSD? And how does it feel for someone accustomed to documenting others’ personal experiences to turn the camera back on themselves?

In a fascinating first episode of a brand-new series of Bristol Unpacked, join Neil Maggs in a conversation with Aodh exploring these issues and discussing his thought-provoking film, Scars: Surviving a Stabbing.

Aodh Breathnach’s documentary, Scars: Surviving a Stabbing, is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.

The Bristol Cable