Brandy

I grew up in a home with child abuse and gun violence. I was eight when my mother shot my father; she did it again after that. No one came to check on us four kids; no charges were made, even after the second time.

When I was 15, my mother put a gun to my stomach when a sheriff’s deputy drove up. As she had shot my father twice, I always believed she would have pulled the trigger. The state was South Carolina; there wasn’t help for kids caught up in gun violence then.

I’m in therapy now for this, as well as for the gun violence in childhood.

Ann

I am a survivor of domestic violence—my children and I. We endured the mental, emotional and physical abuse of being hurt when my oldest daughter, trying to protect me and her sister, ran out the house to get help or call the police or my mom. I got tired of the abuse 35 years ago, in 1986. I got my children and left my ex-husband. I was thinking about my children and their well-being—and mine—and I got us out that environment.

In 2002, my baby girl and I were held hostage by her father—same ex-husband—for five hours, with a highly powerful gun. We were thinking about how to endure getting out this hostage situation; someone called the police and the squad to come out to assist with the negotiation, to get me and my daughter out safely, and to notify my family. Thank God! Everything turned out well and blessed!

I’m a faith leader and an activist and advocate against gun violence and domestic violence. I’m a community activist as well, and I don’t tolerate any type of violence in our neighborhood. I’m a strong Survivor Fellow with Moms Demand Action and Everytown!

Anonymous

I didn’t grow up with a stable mother-daughter relationship. My parents divorced when I was little, and I hardly knew my dad. My mother was in and out of my life from the time I was three until the age of 14. I did not know it at the time, but my mother has bipolar disorder and refused to take her medication, resulting in her being in a state of mania half the time. I deeply loved my mother, and I still do.

About four years ago, I saw my mother for the first time in about five or six years. I still didn’t understand her condition, and when she wanted to have a private talk with me, I obliged. Little did I know: She planned to shoot me, then herself. The fact that my mother could get access to a gun was disheartening. Thankfully, family members found us and calmed her down. I haven’t seen my mother since then, and I miss her every day.

Hollie Green

I was a teenager, growing up in a small town in Nevada County, Arkansas. I got pregnant and was pressured into marrying the guy because his family are evangelical Christians. Being 17 at the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. I tried to get out of the marriage many times, due to all the domestic violence. I’d leave, and he would find me and drag me back, sometimes by the head of my hair. I got pregnant with the second kid two years later. I still tried to leave him and his large family. I wouldn’t convert to being a Christian, so I got lots of hate from the family; that made him mad at me. He told me the only way he would grant me divorce is if I cheated on him. He also said that if I cheated on him, he’d shoot me in the head. After suffering for nine years and begging to just let me and my two kids get out, I took another opportunity to escape. I’d had enough of his abuse by that time. He came home pissed, grabbed the 9mm and stuck it down my throat.

Naire’ McCormick

My friend and colleague Naire’ seemed unstoppable, until she was murdered during a domestic violence shooting in September 2019. She was a proud and devoted mom to her son Scottie, raising him to know all the complexities of being a Black youth in our country. She was a loyal and steadfast coworker, and she was a fierce supporter of the students at our school in lower Manhattan, where she was a school resource officer. The wall behind her desk in the lobby of our school was full of student photos that she lovingly collected. She knew an astounding number of students from many years, and we sometimes joked that I needed her to make a master list with photos for me to use when students came back for alumnae days.

When I was pregnant with my first child and feeling sick and overwhelmed daily, it was Naire’ who gave me the positivity and hugs that I needed daily. And in the weeks before my daughter was born, hers was the first gift I received at school: a knitted wrap that I now cling to as a reminder of her.

I miss her every day, and I wish for just one more hug.

Norma

In 1993, Norma, my niece, was murdered by her husband a few days before their divorce. She was at home with her children when the murder occurred, so her children watched their mom being murdered. Norma was a beautiful, independent, intelligent woman of 29 who wanted a better life for herself and her children. Her violent death by gun has left her family in deep sorrow and shock.

Hannah Holycross

My father had an obsession with guns, a stocked gun cabinet and mental illness. The result of this was his suicide and a lifetime of trauma for my mother and me. On the day he shot himself, he threatened to shoot my mother and me as well. Our story did not end that way, but the impact of that day remains forever burned on our souls.

Jackie, GiGi, & Fluff

On February 27, 2019, Jackie and both of her children, GiGi and Fluff, were murdered in their home in an act of family annihilation committed by Jacqui’s boyfriend of 13 years. Naturally, her family was devastated.

As we navigated through what would soon become our new normal, we learned that on the night of the murders, the perpetrator attacked Jackie, beating her beyond recognition. Based on the evidence and testimony from a family member of the perpetrator, it is our belief that after being beaten, Jackie was running upstairs either to get away, or to get to a phone to call someone. It was as she was running up the stairs that she was shot in the back and left to die at the top of the stairwell. After such a heinous act, the perpetrator then contacted his family member and allowed her to listen as he shot both of his children once in the side of the head, killing each of them instantly.

It is our hope that by sharing the story of Our 3, we will be able to shine a light on the devastation that gun violence leaves in this country.

Patty

My sister Patty was a witty, compassionate person who was always there for me. Honestly, she was the best sister you could ask for. On September 15, 1997, she was shot several times and killed by her ex-boyfriend after he had kidnapped her and taken her across several state lines. He was a convicted felon who never should have had access to a gun.

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my sister terribly.  After Patty was killed, I never sketched or painted again. It was a gift that both Patty and I were blessed with and a love we shared together.

Sarah Feibusch

My daughter Sarah was shot and killed 20 years ago by an ex-boyfriend who had access to an illegal gun. She was just about to celebrate her 20th birthday; despite some challenges, she was beginning to find her place in life when it was so suddenly and tragically cut short. I was informed of Sarah’s death by two detectives who came to my place of work. Driving home in a state of numbness, I had to tell Sarah’s 16-year-old sister what had happened when she returned home from school. I think that was the hardest task a father can imagine.

If Sarah’s killer had not had such easy access to a gun, she would still be with us today and be 40 years old. Domestic gun violence against women is the second most common type of gun fatality after suicide and almost never receives much attention because it is so common. It is imperative that Congress reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act and implements federal red flag laws (Extreme Risk Protection) so that women are no longer as vulnerable to abuse and violence.