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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Laura Hewgley

In memory of Alex Hewgley

It’s hard for me to say I’m a survivor because my loved one who died by gun suicide was also a perpetrator. Four years ago, my teenage nephew stole his father’s gun and used it in a double homicide-suicide, killing his girlfriend, her sister and himself. I’ll never forget the morning I received that call, running to the toilet to throw up and facing how to tell my young children what their cousin had done and that he died.

It’s difficult to have loved someone who did something so horrible. I think about and pray for his victim’s family often. I know now that at the time of his death he was in crisis, had little hope for the future and lacked adult support, but there’s still a lot of shame I feel. I wish I’d known more then and could’ve done something to change that day.

The first Moms Demand Action meeting I attended was a year after he died. I cried during the meeting and couldn’t attend again for months. But now I’m leader in my local group, and I work on the Be SMART program to educate adults about safe firearm storage.

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