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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John Nester

I was working for a bank, and on Christmas Eve 1985, three masked men with assault rifles burst in and made everyone lie on the floor. Thinking that I was the manager, they made me get back up, screaming names at me and demanding that I open the safe or they would kill me. This was not something that I was capable of doing for them.

I remember like it was yesterday, standing there, feeling like I was going to both faint and lose control of my bodily functions! I was aware that some of the other employees had activated their silent alarms; something I will always hate them for! It was me who would die first, and it exacerbated the possibility of a hostage situation.

The bank, in its infinite wisdom, left our phone ringing for what had to have been 20 minutes! How stupid do you have to be not to understand that something bad is going down after the fifth or sixth ring? I still suffer from PTSD over this issue, and even though it ended well, with the robbers accepting my offer to give them the tellers monies, this also coincided with the beginning of the worst times for the AIDS epidemic, especially in San Francisco, and this was a breaking point for me. I became a daily meth user for the next couple of years, and even though this happened decades ago, I’m having emotional issues arise as I talk about this.

The worst part of all of this is that no one offered anyone any sort of counseling, even though I’m sure that we all needed it.

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