I Wish She Would’ve Held Me Rather Than That Gun.


By Khary Penebaker I am a 37-year-old man and I don't remember my mom. I don't know her birthday. I don't know her voice, her touch, her smell. I don't know much about her. On September 8, 1978, she committed suicide with a gun that my grandfather had given her. She died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, alone in her car. She left behind an infant who would never get to grow up with his mom. For most of my life, I have struggled with two questions: how much could I be worth … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Sandra Rougier Frank


On February 1, 1999, my only child, Teshawn Samuel, was walking around his Brooklyn neighborhood, handing out invitations for his daughter’s fourth birthday party. The details about what happened next are unclear, but Teshawn was approached by four gunman and was shot a total of 17 times with three different guns. As he fell to the ground, he asked for someone to “call my mother” and was able to dictate my phone number. When I arrived at the hospital, Teshawn had already succumbed to his wounds. … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Alisha Waters

Alisha Waters Photo 2

At approximately 8:23 am on August 6, 2013, I was standing in the lobby of my work place. I was waiting for the elevator, annoyed at its slowness, when I felt his eyes on me. I left my husband, DJ, in the early spring. From March to August of 2013, DJ stalked me. I had an Emergency Order of Protection, but a judge had just denied my permanent restraining order in April because as he said, there were no signs of physical or sexual abuse. The virulent and persistent emotional abuse apparently … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Paula Bowe


My daughter, Tonya Raines, was loved by everyone she met. Her heart was filled with joy and was as huge as the hole left in my family after her ex-boyfriend murdered her. Tonya dated this man for less than a year. She broke up with him after he became violent with her, first attacking her with a broom handle and another time with an iron. Tonya ended the relationship and got a restraining order. On December 5, 2007, Tonya was visiting a friend in an apartment complex, where the … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Debbi Black

Nina, left, with her sister Yvonne.

As a mother, my first instincts are to do whatever it takes to protect my children. Raising my two daughters, Yvonne and Nina, I wanted them to know the warning signs of domestic violence. I was open with my girls about the dangers of being in an abusive relationship, because I was in one myself for a long time. I knew firsthand the damage and pain domestic violence can cause, and I hoped my girls would never have to suffer through a situation like I did. When I developed the courage to leave my … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Kimberly Brusk

Kimbery Brusk

I grew up in West Michigan. My parents both deer hunt. We had guns at home. I had to take hunters safety classes as an adolescent. My parents stored their guns safely. I’ve never been an anti-gun person and to be honest, I never thought much about things like the connection between guns and domestic violence. That is, until I had experienced that toxic combination firsthand. Looking back, my marriage was abusive almost from the start. But when you are so close to something it's difficult to … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: LaTonya Boyd

LaTonya Boyd

By LaTonya Boyd My daughter, Tyesha McNair, was 21 years old when the father of her children, James Brock, murdered her. I raised her to be a fighter, but no one can win when faced by a domestic abuser with a gun. In October 2009, Tyesha was packing up her things in Georgia to move back home to Kansas. She had an order of protection against James Brock, but felt she needed to move away to protect herself. On October 13, she had her friend Terrence Clark over, he was there to help her pack … [Read more...]