Annabelle

When I was 20, I was gang-raped. Held by gunpoint and knife. I don’t feel comfortable repeating what they said to me, as it was so cold and evil.

Libby

A gun-related event when I was 22 completely changed my perspective on personal safety, and importantly, on how police treat victims of crime.

On my way home (NYC) one evening, a man walked into my apartment building behind me, rode up the elevator with me, and then suddenly came up behind me, held a gun to my temple and forced me into a vacant apartment down the hall. I was raped. And left, mostly undressed, in a closet.

Once I made my way home, I called the police. Two men (no female cops) interrogated me. Questioned me about what I was wearing: Did I undress in front of the window? Other stupid and blaming questions. One asked me what the gun looked like by whipping out his gun(!). Finally they suggested that the guy was probably just a robber, the rape was “just” a spur-of-the-moment thing and they would probably never catch him. They never even tried!

As a result, I will ALWAYS believe the victims. And I have limitless respect and compassion for survivors.

Mark

My story is in two parts. One is dealing with death threats and gun violence that happened when I was in high school and later in early college. The second is my experience witnessing an active shooter situation or mass shooting that took place next to my workplace.

The first is more personal. The most extreme death threat was after getting raped by a classmate in early high school. He pointed a rifle at me to keep me from screaming and getting the adult to discover what was happening. The reason I feel guilty is because he told me there were not any bullets in the gun and showed me the bullets. For some reason, not being murdered means none of it happened. I was functionally mute, and because I could not report the rape or tell anyone what happened, I had to live with the fear that he or someone else would finish the job by murdering me throughout my high school years. I ended up finding better friends and ended up finding support in high school, but could not tell people what happened because I had been forced into a sinful act. I did not feel safe talking about it in the highly religious environment I grew up in, so another death threat came when trying to drive to a friend’s house, and then one more came and went with the support that I found because I didn’t tell them what happened to me. I could not speak.

My second encounter with gun violence came was when someone committed an act of retaliatory violence near my workplace at the time. I saw SWAT teams casually walk by my window as what took place ended before we even knew what happened. The police arrived and then the news agencies came. I felt trapped in my workplace, unable to leave, and we were used as a safe place for those most effected to get help from emergency responders for the shock that just happened to them. Because of my previous experience of rape and gun violence, I could no longer keep in anything of my story. I was eventually fired because the company tried to comfort me about what happened and I could not stop talking about what happened to me.

Kerry Youmans

In college I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at gunpoint as I was walking home at night to my off-campus apartment.

The man kept me as a hostage for a significant amount of time. A man who, I would later learn, shot and killed a peace officer two days earlier, during a theft.

After this event it was hard for me to return to school, and to this day I have struggled with a fear and anxiety of firearms, along with being afraid of walking alone in the dark.

I belong to Moms Demand Action and Be Smart to join in the struggle in changing our gun laws and further protecting our children from the gun violence that is so prevalent within American society.