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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Cheryl Stumbo

Cheryl Stumbo, center, raises her arms as she finishes speaking at an election night party for Initiative 594, a measure seeking universal background checks on gun sales and transfers, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Seattle. Stumbo, the citizen sponsor of the initiative, is a survivor in the shooting at the Jewish Federation in Seattle in 2006. The initiative is one of two competing gun initiatives in Washington state. The other measure, Initiative 591, would prevent any such expansion of background checks. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

My shooting was a hate crime. I was shot, my coworkers were shot, because a man filled with hate assumed we were Jewish. Some of us were. I was not, then. My shooter was a stranger, a hate-filled man frustrated with his own lack of significance in the world. He was the ultimate form of a bully — someone who kills others because of the hate he harbors in his heart and mind.

I was shot Friday, July 28, 2006, at about 4:00 p.m., while at work at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. My shooter was convicted of one count of aggravated murder (a hate crime, and with a firearm) and five counts of attempted murder. He was found guilty by a jury on December 15, 2009. My mom, who sat with me through both entire trials (the first trial was declared a mistrial — there was an anti-Semite on the jury, we found out later), died a couple of weeks later, on December 27, 2009, of cancer.

A couple of weeks later, on January 14, 2010, my shooter was sentenced to life in prison, no parole. His victims were allowed to speak at the sentencing hearing. I said to him, “You will spend the rest of your life paying for your choices. I’m making choices. I choose to change the world by helping, not hurting.” I made true on that promise by becoming the citizen sponsor of Washington State’s Initiative 594 for universal background checks on all firearms sales, which passed by a landslide vote in November 2014.

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