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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Stephanie Vanderslice

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One night, 30 years ago, as I got out of my car in front of my D.C. row rouse, a gentleman across the street asked me the time. I paused to look at my watch, and then he was suddenly inches in front of me, pushing me against the door, telling me that he was sorry but he had a gun and to get back in the car.

I stalled, reasoning that it would be better to be shot in front of my shared row house than to go with this man to wherever he wanted to take me.

The officer who later arrived on the scene confirmed this.

“Never let them take you to the secondary location,” the officer said, for the benefit of me and my three terrified female roommates. “No one survives the secondary location.”

Suddenly the door to the house beside mine opened, and a large group came out. My assailant backed off of me and, fearful of so many bystanders, ran.

For many years after that, I did not feel safe anywhere. I entered long=term therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety. I have come a long way but have never completely recovered.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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