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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Angel Gonzales Jr.

When I was in high school, the sweet, loving and playful dad I knew was disappearing to mental illness and alcoholism that would sometimes turn violent. One night, I heard my parents arguing in the kitchen, and then I saw my mother run into her bedroom. I went in to ask my father what happened, and when I walked in, I froze; he was pointing his handgun at me. He raised his arm and shot above my head.

A couple of years later, I received a phone call from my mom saying she was scared because my father was upset and looking for his handgun. I told her to hide in a wooded area away from the house and that I would be there in about 15 minutes. When I arrived, I found my mom safe outside, but when I went inside the house, I found my father taking his last breaths. He had used the handgun he’d kept in the kitchen on himself. This happened in 1996 and still feels like it was yesterday. I wish he were here today, to joke and play with my wife and children.

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