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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Howard Fertig

In memory of Sheldon Fertig

On October 23, 1976, my dad Sheldon Fertig was killed in a holdup in our family’s store, and our mom was critically injured. I was a college freshman. I came home to inform my 10-year-old and 14-year-old siblings. After we buried my dad, I took a leave of absence from college and worked full-time in the store until my mom recovered from her assault. My first task was to mop up the blood from where my father was killed 10 days prior.

Fast forward 10 years, and I was teaching emotionally handicapped kids whose parents lost custody due to neglect or abuse. I couldn’t believe how these students acted out in class until I read their case studies. After reading them, I thought that if I went through what they had, I’d act out more than they did. I could see how when they grew up, it could be very difficult for them to get a job, and to keep it. I could see how if they didn’t have a job and they needed money, and if they were able to get their hands on a gun, they might try to rob a store, and if that holdup went awry, they could end up shooting a person, and possibly killing them.

I also saw instances where parents got help and regained custody. Those kids started to smile. Those kids started to learn. I saw the power of love.

The day before our father was killed, I never thought it would happen to us. I bet before Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, etc., those families felt the same way. If I were you, I’d think this would never happen to me either.

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