I don’t think of myself as a gun violence survivor, but I am. Reading stories of mothers who have lost their children, children who have lost their parents — those are the survivors, in my mind. The people left to tell their loved ones stories, to fight for a better tomorrow — that’s what a survivor is to me.
My story is short, but it is engrained in my memory forever. Nine years ago, I was a mother of a 5 year old and a 3 year old, the joys of my life. My life had been rocked a year earlier when my own mom suffered a traumatic brain injury. I spent the year caring for my kids and traveling to help my dad care for my mom while she was in the hospital. In April 2008, I needed a night off, so I made plans to go to my friend’s apartment to hang out. My friend lived less than a mile from my house in a neighborhood in Central Austin. I was having a conversation with a friend on my cell phone and parked my car on the side of the apartment complex, a place I had parked many times before this night. As I was making my way to her place, I heard footsteps running behind me and turned, apologizing to get out of the way. I had no idea that the footsteps were coming for me. I found myself pushed into an overgrown garden with a pistol pointed directly in the middle of my forehead.
What went through my mind? MY KIDS! That’s it, my kids were all I thought of as I stared down the foreign barrel of a gun. I have often heard people say they try to scream and nothing comes out, this is the first time that I found myself silent screaming. The gunman reached for my purse, and thank God I watched the Oprah episode where her guest told the audience not to fight for your purse if confronted. My assailants, there were two, were young men who did not need to throw their lives away for the contents in my purse. My children didn’t need to lose their mom for the same reason. The boys ran away and were never caught no matter how hard the police department pushed me to pin the event on someone I saw for less than two seconds.
Today, I fight for the kids I see doing drills in schools, for the ones who have lost their lives way too early and yes, for the two young boys who committed this act against me. I have never publicly told my story before, but feel compelled as I have seen too many people and kids with guns that should not have them. My name is Robin, and I am a gun violence survivor.