It isn’t about what we have gone through, it’s about what we learn from those experiences. I grew up in a household full of firearms, and I was taught firearms safety at a young age by my dad. I also grew up in a household with a clinically depressed, alcoholic, possibly schizophrenic mother. As a child, fear and I were close friends. I was around 7 or so when the nightly rituals started. I would fall asleep only to wake up to a drunk mother standing over my bed smiling at me. She would say things like “I know where daddy keeps the guns, and I’ll kill him before he can hurt me.” “The devil sleeps next to you at night because you’re a bad child and have to be taught a lesson.” One thing that I will never forget hearing was “One day you will come home from school to see me laying on your bedroom floor with my wrists slit open to show you what real pain is like.” Eventually, she would leave, and I would muster up enough courage to sneak into my father’s room (they did not share a bedroom) to see if he was still alive. I was so scared to tell him about any of this because I didn’t want to make her angry. 

It got a lot worse from there. She would have bad nights, grab me, throw me into the back of her car, and drive 60mph through our neighborhood drunk and screaming. I used to jump out of the car at stop signs and hide in the trees because I didn’t want to die. I remember barely breathing behind the brush. I would watch her drive back and forth looking for me, taunting me from the window of the car. There were a lot of nights that I spent at our local park.. it is honestly a miracle that something worse didn’t happen to the kid alone outside in the dark.  

I broke a coffee pot once by accident and she chased me through the house with a cast iron pan. I hid in the bathroom and the only thing I could think to do was grab the top cover from the toilet to use as a weapon if she broke the door down. 

I moved out when I was 17 and ended up dating a guy for two years who would rape and emotionally abuse me. I had to testify in court alone to get a PFA order against him when I finally left.  

The point of all of this is to say that I have experienced evil. Not once in my life have I thought that taking guns away from people would stop evil. Shooting saved my life. It gave me a purpose, and it gave me control over my life for the first time. I will carry everywhere, and every day, because a long time ago I made a promise to myself that I will never allow myself to be in a terrible situation ever again. Gun rights are everyone’s rights. The right to self defense is everyone’s right. I would love to see a world where everyone had a way to protect themselves, I would love to see a world where innocent people aren’t taken advantage of.  

Today I speak openly in the firearms community about mental health, rape, and domestic violence. Every single thing that I have ever gone through will be worth it if I can help even one person. Fear is a choice, and Although we will never be able to eliminate evil, we sure as hell can be prepared to face it. 

-Genevieve, PA