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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Lena Duda

On Valentine’s Day 2008 (10 years before Parkland) at 3:06 p.m., a gunman came into the Cole Hall lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and started shooting. The shooting lasted less than a minute, but in that time he killed five people and injured 22 others. He killed himself before the cops could get him. Had it been 10 minutes earlier, I would’ve been right outside that building cutting through to go to work.

I can remember the frantic voicemail my roommate left me, then calling her back and immediately calling my mom to tell her I was fine. I can remember the chaos of not being able to use my phone because lines were jammed for five hours afterwards, while the rumors about more gunmen ran rampant. I can remember the emptiness and stillness of campus the day after, as if God froze it all in bitter winds and ice. I can remember the shock and pain of realizing a classmate was killed, the anger at what happened, the feeling of being violated, the need to fight back but not knowing against what, and the feeling that the depression will never go away… It’s with me always. #ForwardTogetherForward

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