Accessibility links


Fading Scars, Renewed Hope

Antonius Wiriadjaja remembers the day well - July 5, 2013.

As he was walking through his Brooklyn neighborhood, toward the subway, Antonius thought he heard fireworks - it was a day after America’s Independence Day celebration.

But then he looked down and saw blood pulsing from his chest at the rate of his heartbeat. As he slid down a brick wall, a stranger helped maintain pressure on his wound.

Antonius began to relive memories from the night before.

“I had went [gone] to the beach with my friends, and I felt the ocean under my feet. And I remember reliving that moment when I was bleeding out. Everything was telling me to fall asleep, and it felt like the calmest and deepest sleep I could have fallen into, but I forced myself to stay awake," Antonius recalled.

He fell into a four-day coma, but survived.

A tool to cope

Antonius decided to blog about his experience, using it as a tool to cope with the physical and emotional stress that followed, and to reassure his family and friends that he was doing all right.

Every day, the 31-year-old includes a photo of his scars.

“Then I take off my shirt, and I would just sit down and make sure my scars are showing," he said.

When details emerged about the shooting,Antonius learned he was an innocent bystander in a drive-by domestic-violence shooting that missed its intended female target.

Today, he is focusing his efforts on this issue.

In particular, he is pressing for stricter background checks for gun buyers and an end to gun violence against women.

“It’s not about gang violence. It’s not just about mass shootings. It’s really, when it comes down to it, violence against women and the people around them," Antonius said.

Difference of a year

Just one year ago, Antonius could not lift one kilogram or eat regularly without feeling severe pain.

Today, 460 days after the shooting, he enjoys outdoor activities, including running, and he is an adjunct professor at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Despite experiencing occasional discomfort - including nausea, headaches, and pain in his chest and back - Antonius remains positive, reminding others of the good deeds that take place every day.

“A hundred people saved my life, and thousands of people still continue to support me and make sure that I’m okay now," Antonius said. "So there’s a lot of goodness in this world, and you can’t let this one bad guy take it away from you.”