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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Tia Christiansen

I used to love fireworks. The wonder of it all … the magic … the excitement of waiting for what I would see after the boom. I’ve even designed firework shows for events. The colors and shapes amaze and make people say “awww” out loud. Now the sound of fireworks puts me in an immediate state of fight or flight.

I shake uncontrollably, can’t breathe and can barely move. I rock back and forth, trying to find comfort, telling myself over and over again that I am safe. Everyone is safe. This may not seem like a big deal, but in the last three months, fireworks have exploded over my apartment in Manhattan twice. The first time, I was completely unaware it was to happen, the second for New Year’s Eve. This is an extreme example of what living with PTSD is like. There are the small moments of my upstairs neighbor dropping heavy objects in the middle of the night on the floor, sending my heart into heavy beating and stopping my breath as I listen. Wait. Wait for shouting or gunfire.

I left my 20-year career, have a difficult time in large crowds, and become hyper-vigilant when I see people gathered or hear loud, unexpected noise. Life is simply not the same, all because a man had access to a bump stock accessory, making his large gun “collection” weapons of mass destruction.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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