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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Molly L

When someone holds a gun to your head, you can’t look at the world the same way afterwards. When a stranger holds a gun to your head, and armed men enter your home, your bedroom, when you are a teenager — this is what happened to me — how do you continue to sleep in your room? How can you live in that house? How do you walk out the door, catch the bus, go to school? Well, you have to.

After the experience of a home invasion in my parents’ home in a wealthy L.A. suburb when I was 15, I could have processed that experience in different ways — hated men, feared the stranger, blamed a specific category of people. Instead, I walked away with one question: Why did those men have access to guns? Why are there SO MANY GUNS everywhere, readily available? That’s what I got angry about.

Later, when I was in grad school, it happened again: A man asked me directions on a fancy Back Bay Boston street near my college, and pulled out a gun, and robbed me. Again, my thought was: Why does this stranger have the power of life or death over me? Why are guns so easy to get?

In both instances, I was taken by surprise. In my home, it would not have helped if my Dad had a gun — he was making a sandwich, I was doing my homework. Are we to go about our daily tasks holding a loaded gun at all times? Even if we did, that probably would have gotten us killed. In each instance, my Dad and I had to look into strangers’ faces, strangers who held our lives in their hands, and speak calmly and de-escalate.

Guns didn’t make us safer, and would not have, could not have. Guns are not the answer. Fewer guns, less access, sane legislation, are the only things that will make us safer in the U.S. Data backs this up. My own experience backs this up. I want my children to live safer, more peaceful lives than I have.

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