September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  Read and share stories to honor survivors whose loved ones died by gun suicide.

total hearts received for Moments That Survive

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.