Faces of Courage: Paula Bowe

20141020_150322

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...]

Faces of Courage: Andrea Portes

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 4.13.27 PM

By Andrea Portes In 9th grade, I dated Dylan Gushard. He was amazing, but he was— as my girlfriends warned—from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ He wasn’t cool. My girlfriends pestered me to break up with him. I am ashamed to admit it, but I did. After the break-up, Dylan wrote me haikus and other poems. He left them in my locker. I ignored them. A year later, in the middle of the night, Dylan’s dad loaded a shotgun and shot Dylan, his sister Vanessa, and his mom, Judy. Then Dylan’s … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Joshua Stepakoff

NEWS Stepakoff release 1JL

By Joshua Stepakoff In August of 1999, I was six years old and attending the North Valley Jewish Community Center Day Camp in Los Angeles. It was mid-morning, a sunny day, at this Community Center where I went five days a week, it was my home away from home. I loved being there. I was walking back from a game of Capture the Flag when I was faced with who I thought to be a construction worker. At his hip he was holding what I thought was a power drill. The next thing I knew, I was getting … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Missy Jenkins Smith

missy standing

My name is Missy Jenkins Smith. I am paralyzed from the chest down. I was shot in the 1997 Heath High School Shooting. My memory of that day is sharp; it’s sharp because I am reminded of it every single day— when I can’t stand face to face with my husband to give him a kiss or when I can’t when I can’t get dressed or go to the bathroom or get in my car the way “normal” people do or when I can’t go running to my two young boys when they call for their mama. On a chilly December morning, I was … [Read more...]