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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Stirling Morris

In memory of Gina, Darrin, and Chris Conniff

My sister, brother-in-law and nephew were shot in the head within minutes of each other, and with the same gun, while at their Texas home in April 2006. We don’t know exactly when they died because their bodies, which lay rotting for an undetermined period of time, were discovered by a mail carrier curious of a foul odor. All we know for sure is that the convicted killer was my nephew’s friend whom they took in for a brief period of time, who had known emotional issues, and who somehow found a way to obtain a gun.

The history of where my siblings and I come from is tragic in countless, painful other ways, breaking my heart as much as the murder itself. So shortly after the discovery of their bodies, and in an attempt to make sense of it all, I visited their home. I will never not smell the foul odor of death that filled each room. I will never unsee my nephew’s blood-soaked mattress waiting to be disposed of outside their secluded country home. And, I will never forget the feeling of initial hate, eventual numbness, and, now, ultimate betrayal every time I hear about another senseless shooting.

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