June 09, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Kaliesha Andino has spent the last year running from gunshots. At night, she flashes back to her hiding spot behind a bar in a Florida nightclub, where a bullet ripped through her arm during the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The date her life shattered, June 12, 2016, is tattooed in Roman numerals on her other arm, along with images of clouds and an eye to memorialize a friend who was among the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Like others who got out alive, Andino, 20, has spent the year since the attack navigating the line between victim and survivor. Her physical wounds have healed. But she searches for exits in crowded rooms and has not been working.

"I will never have closure," she said, adding: "I've got to live right now. I have to cope with the situation."

The death toll in the attack marked the worst in a spate of U.S. shooting rampages in recent years - from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut to an office party in San Bernardino, California - that stoked debate about gun control and left communities grappling with deep emotional and physical wounds.

Counseling and medical needs have consumed many survivors working to establish a new normal after gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse during Latin music night. Some saw their trauma magnified when the tragedy at the gay club outed them as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

One survivor recently had a lodged bullet removed. Others have struggled at times to leave home after the rampage, which also left more than 50 people injured.

Mateen held hostages inside for three hours before he died in an exchange of gunfire with police.

"They are still so raw," said attorney Antonio Romanucci, who is suing Mateen's ex-employer and widow on behalf of dozens of victims, including Andino and relatives of some of the deceased. "They are still living it."

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