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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Marilyn Balcerak

In memory of James and Brianna

My name is Marilyn and I have lost two children to gun violence. My youngest son, James, had mental health issues his entire life and was just not able to fit into our world. He lost that battle when he was 23 by taking the life of my stepdaughter Brianna and then himself with a legally purchased gun.

Because of his ability to purchase a gun, life will never be the same.

Holidays no longer have the joy they once did. My partner and I greet them with mixed emotions, not really knowing how we are going to feel, thus often spending them alone. It really throws me when there is a shooting, as it brings back all the memories of that day. I feel for the victims and the shooter, as they are all lives lost. I know what everyone is feeling, as I have the experience of both. I love my son, yet know he took a life of another. Even within our close family, members have reacted in different ways, bringing some closer and others apart. It is always the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, all because of a gun.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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