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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Kristal Smith

Starting from the age of seven until I was 14 years old, my mom was physically, verbally and sexually assaulted by my alcoholic stepfather. He was a hunter and had shotguns and ammunition lying unsecured all over the house. He would often threaten to kill her. I couldn’t sleep when I went to my Dad’s house for the weekend and worried all day at school because I thought he would really do it if I wasn’t there to stop him. Sometimes I would collect his guns and hide them under my bed and lock the door.

One time when I was about 10 years old, a friend came over to see me after school. I opened my bedroom door to greet her and she was standing at the end of the hall, holding one of my stepfather’s guns pointed at my chest. “Stick-em up!” she yelled. My 8-year-old brother grabbed her arm and yelled for her to put it down. It’s a miracle that the gun didn’t go off.

As an adult, I have anxiety and PTSD from the abuse. Occasionally, I have flashbacks or nightmares and can still hear my mother’s screams. When someone raises their voice or becomes aggressive with me or another person, I get physically sick.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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