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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Elizabeth Partoyan

In memory of Doug

My world turned upside down the night a detective called to tell me my ex-husband had shot and killed himself with his own handgun. In the year between our divorce and when he killed himself, we were working toward a new kind of relationship, to becoming friends. I had absolutely no idea he would take such an action. Yet in the 10 years since he shot himself, with my teeth gritted and the tireless support of my loved ones, I have come so, so far. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I no longer feel guilty or angry or confused or helpless. I just feel incredibly sad. And I won’t ever not feel incredibly sad because his death will never not be incredibly sad.

Every single day, something happens that reminds me of him. Something funny he would have laughed at, something frustrating he would have fumed over … usually mundane things. But I still can’t watch someone holding a gun to their head on a TV show or in a movie, nor can I hear a Journey song without tears forming and my mind spinning and my heart racing. Yet I am finding ways to effect change around guns. I keep a list of “gun language and gestures” that are so prevalent in our culture, and I am finding ways to call attention to them when I hear or see them. Ways that open conversation and spark reflection. I am working as a lead with my local Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America group. I draw on the resources and, more importantly, my peers in the Everytown Survivor Network, a “club” none of us wants to be part of. And every day I strive to live by the adage, “How does your life help to spread peace?” Today I am hopeful. The arc of the moral universe IS bending.

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