October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose lives have been changed by domestic violence.

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Alicia Smith

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I was a dancer at the University of Arizona when I was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting. A bullet from an AK-47 ripped through my liver. Before the shooting, I was a vibrant, independent 21 year old. After, I was completely incapacitated. That trauma tortures every aspect of your life and leaves you feeling numb, helpless and dead inside.

After many dark years, I came to realize that I had a choice in how I was going to react to my situation. This would make me bitter or better.

I was able to find peace and forgiveness through the most extraordinary circumstances. It was a moment that would change the trajectory of my life.

My life is not what I had expected, but whose is? That initial gunshot wound left me with a less than 1 percent chance of survival, but I didn’t just survive – I thrived.

All the blessings in my life have been afforded to me through the very circumstances I thought destroyed me.

I now have a voice to speak on behalf of those who don’t get the opportunity to speak for themselves due to gun violence. I intend to be heard.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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