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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Chris Thomas-Melly

Fifty years ago, my dad was murdered in Hartford, Connecticut, by an ex-con with a borrowed handgun. It was January 27, 1970; I was 16 years old.

I was called to the office, where my mom’s best friend signed me out of school. Mom was waiting in the car with my little brother and sister. As we drove to pick up my other brother, they broke the news to us.

I was stunned, trying to absorb the words. I could not imagine a reason for anyone to kill him, nor how it would change our lives. The losses came to me over time — my father, my security, my trust, my understanding of how the world works.

The impacts were enormous. My mother had become a single parent, solely responsible for us all. I questioned whether I should still go to college in the fall. My siblings were quite simply bewildered.

In time, the immediate wounds were healed. But all five of us were deeply hurt. We still struggle at times and still don’t know why it happened.

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