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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Mark

My story is in two parts. One is dealing with death threats and gun violence that happened when I was in high school and later in early college. The second is my experience witnessing an active shooter situation or mass shooting that took place next to my workplace.

The first is more personal. The most extreme death threat was after getting raped by a classmate in early high school. He pointed a rifle at me to keep me from screaming and getting the adult to discover what was happening. The reason I feel guilty is because he told me there were not any bullets in the gun and showed me the bullets. For some reason, not being murdered means none of it happened. I was functionally mute, and because I could not report the rape or tell anyone what happened, I had to live with the fear that he or someone else would finish the job by murdering me throughout my high school years. I ended up finding better friends and ended up finding support in high school, but could not tell people what happened because I had been forced into a sinful act. I did not feel safe talking about it in the highly religious environment I grew up in, so another death threat came when trying to drive to a friend’s house, and then one more came and went with the support that I found because I didn’t tell them what happened to me. I could not speak.

My second encounter with gun violence came was when someone committed an act of retaliatory violence near my workplace at the time. I saw SWAT teams casually walk by my window as what took place ended before we even knew what happened. The police arrived and then the news agencies came. I felt trapped in my workplace, unable to leave, and we were used as a safe place for those most effected to get help from emergency responders for the shock that just happened to them. Because of my previous experience of rape and gun violence, I could no longer keep in anything of my story. I was eventually fired because the company tried to comfort me about what happened and I could not stop talking about what happened to me.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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