Getting people with gun violence trauma over the trauma and armed

My wife was shot at as a child and teenager several times from her obnoxious neighbors. Including being held at gunpoint one of those times. She has not wanted or allowed guns to be around her most of her adult life. I’ve been around guns most of my childhood and in my early adulthood but a little over 10 years ago when meeting her I lost my previous guns and from a divorce, and my new wife was to afraid for me to purchase new ones.

That however changed last year after the apartment complex we lived in had a shootout with the police right outside of our building. A gas station robber was being chased by the cops, left his vehicle and started shooting at the police with an AR-15 less than 100 ft from our window. At that moment, we had two defenseless children were nestled behind my wife and I in our hallway, with a baseball bat in my hand as only means of defense. The next day we bought a shotgun for the house.

Since that time I bought a pistol and become a CPL owner ( concealed pistol license in Michigan) and have my Walter PDP on every time I leave the house. I’m still fairly new to conceal carry, and I want my wife to join as a possibility of carrying concealed. She also wants to be able to protect herself when I’m not there, just too afraid to handle the gun and learn how to be safe with it.

The problem is there’s no way for her to safely own, or carry a pistol, or any gun for that matter, until she’s trained. There’s no way to train her with the trauma because it’s still terrifying to even be around the gun. Each time I holster or unholstered my pistol, load the pistol, or even have it in her vision, she goes through a miniature trauma. We went to the place where I got my concealed license at, and purchased a one-on-one session with the female owner of the gun store, but she still hasn’t been able to muster the courage to go to the class.

I was hoping that USCCA would have some coursework on how to deal with previous gun violence traumas in order to empower yourself to carry. But if they do I haven’t been able to find it yet. I’m asking all of you if there are any resources outside of the standard counseling or psychotherapy that are available.

Thanks ahead of time.


Sounds like your wife would benefit from talking with a therapist who specializes in treating victims of violent trauma.

As part of the process if the therapist felt it was appropriate maybe you could try introducing her to the concept of firearms by using a non firing system like a SIRT pistol. That way maybe she could become familiar with basic firearm handling skills without the noise and fear of bullets being involved.


There is also the possibility that due to the trauma she will never feel comfortable handling a firearm. In that case or at least until she gets comfortable there are several other non firearm self defense alternatives she could start training with.


I’m not sure if USCCA gives any psychotherapy help before actual accident happens.

What I’m thinking is you may try to contact USCCA / Delta Defense and ask for contact information to one of these people:

  • Holly Schneider
  • Andrew Nett

They are involved in mental training in Delta Defense.

As @Shamrock mentioned, you may try to teach you wife firearm handling basics using either blue gun or SIRT. You must start with no lethal tools so she can accept them before you proceed with real guns’ functionality.
At least this worked for my kids. :point_up: Always go easy and slow with firearms.


I really appreciate this info. And yes we definitely want to do whatever is best and whatever is going to be most comfortable, but she also has hang ups with traditional therapists. Her dad was a therapist and also a narcissist and an abusive person. She also went to see some of her dad’s friends who did therapy and they just told her to listen to her dad. So her trust in therapist is not very high. I suggested that to her day one too. But I think i need to keep leading her into that direction.

Thanks again. Much appreciation. :pray:


I will also look into these Alternatives too that sounds like that might be the ticket.


I appreciate these resources and I’ll reach out to them and see If there’s anything in addition To what they’ve got now That may be helpful or some type of insight. I really appreciate you guys help and feedback. And you’re right we don’t want to rush anything I find myself wanting to push so that her Comfort level can come up but she’s not built like that. Me, I need to be pushed a lot when I’m uncomfortable with things. But that does the opposite with her and shuts her down. So I’m trying to be as graceful about it as I can I just can’t stand watching her suffer each time I’ve got a put my gun on or take it out and readjust it or load it. And kills me to see her go through that. I really appreciate you guys’s help.

Thanks again. :pray:


What you have just described… I would suggest stop showing yourself with firearms. Just hide them, do not do anything firearm related next to her. Cleaning, maintenance, putting your holster on and off, checking your EDC… whatever you are doing… do it when she is not around.
Wait for professional diagnose and proper situation handling.


Once you are able to get her therapy if it is effective and she is willing to go to a class, maybe try finding a female instructor who does all women’s classes. This can be a confidence booster and empowering to women to see multiple other women learn and absorb the same information and handle firearms. While my wife had no trauma like your wife she was extremely averse to guns and would always say “guns only have one purpose and that is to kill people” and she was very nervous around them as they would give her anxiety. I had to slowly work on her by giving and showing her examples of defense situations where guns were paramount in defending and saving people’s lives. Slowly she softened to gun ownership over time, and I enrolled her into a class with a USCCA instructor who was a female, owned her own gun store and did women’s only classes. Ms. Kim was very insightful, professional, and extremely patient. She taught my wife and other women how to handle guns safely, responsibly, as well as how and when to use it to protect themselves. A few months ago, I took my wife to my dealer, and we bought her a Sig P365 .380 She wanted the .380 because the recoil was much less than a 9mm and the recoil of 9’s still made her a bit nervous. We’ve gone to the range several times since then and as she became more accustomed to handguns; she has started to shoot my 9mm’s more and more, although she still prefers to carry her Sig when she leaves the house on her own. It takes patience and time for many people, especially women to get acclimated and comfortable around guns.


Yes. I think you’re right. Because I’m so used to being around guns it just doesn’t even cross my mind until I see her react. But I need to make a conscious effort to reprogram myself. Thanks again for the insight.


I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it yet. EMDR therapy seems like something right up her ally.


I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I’m a therapist but was anti gun for a long time. I cant sum up how to treat trauma in a brief way but what shooting did for me as a woman with a trauma background…it gave me a sense of empowerment. Anything new and unknown is scary but like any other interest, hobby, sport etc, you learn. I disagree with keeping the guns out of site. A therapist can help with exposure therapy and of course trauma work. Many techniques with that including EMDR (which doesn’t work with everyone). None of it is simple but please let her know it is hopeful, it is a skill that can be learned, not only for herself but for your whole family. I had a client who was raped. Once she started to heal, she went to the range, brought that mattress, and shot the s**t out of it. Now that’s therapy! If I can help in some way, let me know! Hugs to your wife…


I don’t think I have any suggestions for helping her overcome her fear that others haven’t already mentioned. But, I do have a suggestion you can try.

See if you can get her one of those red or yellow all plastic dummy guns that looks like the real thing. If she’s willing, train her how to point and pull the trigger (at least pretend to). That way if she’s ever in a situation where she needs to protect the kids, she at least has that option. In a life or death situation, mama bear is going to come out, and at least she’ll have the basic know how to operate a gun should the kids lives depend on it.

It’s not ideal, and it won’t help her overcome her fears. But it may be a small step in the right direction that may lead to another small step in the right direction.


It can be hard to find a therapist who you can trust especially if you don’t trust traditional therapy.

I have now heard from a couple of different sources about the Cortina method which is a non traditional therapy that has been working well for people with PTSD. If you can find someone locally or online who is familiar with the method it may help.

For non firearm self defense and even for those who carry a firearm I highly recommend a martial art like Krav Maga if you can find a good instructor in your area. I started it as part of my cardio rehab and it has given me a lot more confidence in situations where I can’t carry a firearm or need to create space and distance to get to my firearm. For defensive tools Pepper spray is a good non lethal alternative. Will also say that even if I had a firearm I would be pretty intimidated by someone coming at me with a machete from across the room. It would be harder to defend against than a baseball bat.


Yes no one’s mentioned that yet and I will check that out. Thank you so much.

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I appreciate that. And yes the class that I did get for was with the female owner of our gun store, and she’s a part of the club girls for guns, and works with a lot of women who are gun hesitant. She’s also been trained to work with people and gun trauma. She even told my wife that she could do a in class only around no gun one on one, and that’s where my wife said she would feel comfortable starting but it’s still been hard for her to get to the class. I love this idea though, and I think in a larger group would be good after she gets the first round jitters out.


Wow. Thanks so much for your insight. That’s really powerful and I appreciate your offer to help or assist. I’m going to have her look through this thread when she’s ready to look and if she resonates with reaching out with you I’ll definitely reach back to you. Thank you again for that offer it means a lot.


Thank you for this. I did take a martial art but it’s a pretty useless one :pensive: it taught me things well enough for the basic stuff kicks punches how to land properly on a fall, and a little bit of grappling arm locks leg locks, but it’s called hapkido. It’s the Korean take on Aikido.

I’ll definitely look into that type of therapy too. I appreciate all support of this community is. I just joined a couple days ago and have found all of you to be pretty amazing. Thanks again and we’ll definitely check out to see if there are any local practitioners by where we live here in Michigan


Everyone deserves a round of applause. :saluting_face:

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Not sure if this will apply.

I used to fly hang fliders and I was amazed at the number of pilots that were afraid of heights. But once they strapped into the harness they knew from experience that they would be safe. They trusted the equipment and their training to see them through.

You don’t start off flying running off a 500’ cliff. You go to the 50’ or smaller bunny hill to learn to gain that trust. Might want to try a similar approach.