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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Jocelyn Miller

It was March 1991, and I was 29 years old. I had been running errands on my lunch hour in Oak Park, Illinois (outside Chicago), enjoying the spring sunshine even though it was chilly and I had the hood on my jacket up. I was walking back to my office, when suddenly a tall man stepped out of a sheltered alcove in the brick buildings that lined the street. He stepped right in front of me, took hold of my jacket at the neck, and lifted me up so that I was hanging in the air in front of him. I looked up, very startled, and he said, “Give me your purse or I’ll shoot you.” He pulled a large black handgun out of his pocket with his other hand so I could see it. Then I dissociated – time expanded infinitely, and suddenly I was in the tree nearby, looking down upon myself and the man who had me in his grip. I thought, “That’s not a real gun.” Infinite time passed. I said to myself, “Jocelyn, you don’t know what a real gun looks like. You have young children (they were age 1 and 3). Give him your purse!” My consciousness snapped back into my own body, and I grabbed my shoulder bag, took it off of my body, and handed it to him. He dropped me and started running away. I tried to run toward a store on the corner. It was like running through molasses. I dashed into the store, told the lady I had just been robbed and to call 911, then asked where the bathroom was. I made it into the bathroom and was violently sick for several minutes. The police came while I was heaving and banged on the door, asking me if I was hurt, if I needed an ambulance. I said I was OK, just sick. The man was never caught. I had post-traumatic stress disorder for months afterward, with panic attacks, especially at night.

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