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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Hannah D'Avino

In memory of Rachel D'Avino

I had a rough childhood. My father was abusive in every sense of the word. My early childhood was scary. From a young age I bonded with my sister Rachel. We kept each other safe. We stood up to an angry adult together. Through the years, Rachel and I got closer.

Rachel was my best friend. She was building her life up from the ashes of our childhood. Everything was falling into place. On Christmas 2012, her boyfriend was going to propose.

But, Rachel never made it to Christmas that year. She was murdered protecting children during the Sandy Hook School shooting on December 14, 2012. Rachel was shot nine to 11 times — the medical examiner couldn’t be sure — due to ricochets and possible re-entry wounds.

My best friend and sister was just gone. Now we were left to pick up the pieces. I have been struggling since Day One. I have received a diagnosis of PTSD and am in treatment. I’m fortunate to have a fund set up to help cover the costs of my therapy. I couldn’t get the help I need without it. But, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a fund for therapy and self care.

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