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One survivor says she has to remind herself the loud pops are fireworks.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — When it comes to trauma, you never know who is suffering. Before lighting up a firework, families who’ve been impacted by gun violence in Jacksonville want people to be courteous towards those who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. While fireworks during the Fourth of July are meant to celebrate independence, for some families who lost loved ones to gun violence, it can be a reminder of a similar, deadly sound.

During the holidays such as the fourth of July, Gale Williams has to remind herself through out the day and night, the loud pops from a distance are fireworks. When her trauma sets in, Williams said she experiences rapid hear beating, shortness of breath and her mind races. 

“You’ll be taken right back to that same moment in time when you lost a loved one, when you witness a murder,” Williams said, who lost her brother violence 30 years ago. 

Jimarce Glover knows how Williams feels all too well. He anytime one hears a firecracker or loud bang, if it makes you jump – it makes you nervous. 

“It makes you paranoid because you don’t know if it’s a gunshot,” Glover added. 

Their wounds do not heal overnight, to address mental stress, they surround themselves with people who love and support them. Glover encourages victims of gun violence to seek counseling. Through their trauma, Williams and Glover are committed to ending gun violence in Jacksonville. They’re with Southern Women Against Gun Violence. While fireworks can be festive during the holidays, they hope people will be mindful of neighbors. Williams encourages victims of gun violence to say something in advance to neighbors. 

Mental health experts suggest: practicing slow-deep-breathing, sensory exercises (for example: look for five things you see in front of you when feeling triggered) or planning a getaway. Williams says be nice and respectful. 

“I think everybody can have a safe fourth of July if we just respect each other, especially those with mental health problems,” Williams said. 

While being mindful of neighbors who’ve experienced gun violence, the same courtesy can be extended towards veterans who have PTSD. 

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