I believe we are all survivors of the gun violence epidemic. It affects our lives and the lives of those we care for daily. I am fortunate to describe myself as an “indirect” survivor. Yet the profound impact of firearms in our culture has echoed throughout my life.
As a teen I nearly fell victim to an unintentional shooting. One day after school, a neighbor boy was showing off a pearl-handled gun brought from his home. It looked like a toy lying innocently in his palm. Not believing it was real, I unwarily lifted it from his hand, raising it to my temple. I tugged on the trigger saying, ”It’s not a real gun!” Mercifully the safety was engaged, and I am here today to share my story.
As a physician and practicing psychotherapist for over 25 years, many of my patients have been direct survivors of gun violence. They work each day to overcome the physical and emotional effects left in the wake of their experiences.
I’ve worked with survivors who lost family members to suicide, to homicide, and who have themselves been wounded. Survivors held at gunpoint by their violent domestic partners, threatened during a home invasion, and even those who have lost loved ones to the horror of murder-suicide. And I am awed by the efforts they take to overcome the rippling effects of gun violence.
It is an honor to do this work, to bear witness to the trauma, to support and assist others on their healing journeys. While I cannot ever know the depth of lived pain of those who have been directly affected by these tragedies, the decades of assisting in reconciling the aftermath of gun violence trauma has touched and transformed me. My own personal journey, forever altered, has moved me into action.
As a survivor member lead volunteer I am privileged to help educate, advocate and support, and to act as a guidepost along the way, by welcoming survivors into the work of Everytown and Moms Demand Action.