Domestic Violence Survivor
Impacted by two suicides in the family
“It's difficult because my first experience [with gun violence] was the death of my late husband by suicide. Lots of mental and emotional issues. Very, very abusive to myself and to my children - mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually. When he died, there was actually a sense of relief… I didn't have to come home every day and be scared. I didn't have to fear for my life, which I had done standing in my own bedroom with a rifle laying on the bridge of my nose and him threatening to pull the trigger. I knew I didn't have to do that anymore.”
“Rick was a gentleman who was raised in a very drug addictive, alcohol addictive home. He would come home and find his mother in the bath tub with her wrist slit, in bed overdosed on drugs. Daddy worked on the railroad, came home on Fridays, beat the crap out of everybody, went to the bars, spent all the money, left on Monday morning, and this was the cycle. [Rick] got a degree in psychology, graduated with honors, and then just became a dangerous weapon all on his own, because then he was manned with the social skills of how to manipulate and control and abuse.”
“[Eric] was fearless. He was afraid of nothing. We lived in an apartment complex just down the road when he was four years old. I would take him to the pool. I would be reading my book in my lawn chair and he would be jumping off the diving board, and mothers all around me would be like, "Oh my god, your son just went off the diving board!" I'd be like, "Don't worry about it, let me know if he doesn't come back up." Well he always came back up because that's who he was. But he had a past and a history. Actually - he had genetics. Eric grew up in a very violent home where he was beaten and sexually abused.
We moved to California when he was 16, and he just really spiraled out of control at that point. [He] attempted suicide the first time at the age of 16, with an unsecured, loaded gun. He shot himself because I had told him to get out. He wasn't going to school, he wasn't working, he wouldn't get a job, he was lying to me, and he was doing drugs. I said, "Hey listen, if you're old enough to do all that, you're old enough to figure it out. So as of Friday, you're out of here." Friday afternoon he came home and got the gun and shot himself.
I definitely feel that I've suffered from PTSD through the years. The slamming of a door, the slamming of the lid on the dishwasher - I mean anything that was a loud popping sound would startle me.I don't like it, but I'm aware of what it is. It took me a long time to realize that it was a reaction to the violence that I experienced in that relationship.
For me, the psychological isn't just about what happened in that relationship… [it also] happened as a child. Being raised in a religious environment, where everything about our life was being fearful… fearful of God. With Rick, I realized how violent it was. I actually thought it was what I deserved. I remember saying that when it was over, that I thought he was my punishment for being so bad as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult.
For me, there will never be a gun in my home again. Three times they've been in my home, twice they've been used to hurt someone or to hurt me… I think people who haven’t experienced gun violence think that it can't happen to them on some level. That there's someplace that they think they're protected from it. The truth is none of us are protected from it; whether it's at the hands of someone we know and love or whether it's at the hands of somebody who's a stranger. We are all at risk, and this is part of what really concerns me about the gun violence in our country.