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Columbine victim tries to stop violence before it starts

8:21 PM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
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"Losing my dad at Columbine, I've lived a tragedy for the last 13 years and eight months," Coni Sanders said. "It has been a battle every day to figure out I can manage this; what can I do with it?"

Her father, Dave Sanders was shot and killed after helping students out of the cafeteria and the hallways. She was 24 years old at the time. Sanders says her dad's death is the motivation to her occupation as a forensic therapist.

"I've made it my mission to help people who have been violent in the past, people with mental illness," Sanders said. "I was curious how two boys could get so messy in the head that their only solution was to kill people."

Sanders works with criminals. She works with the state mental hospital. She runs her own anger management program to try to stop the violence before it starts.

"The largest provider of mental health in Colorado is the Department of Corrections," Sanders said. "So, we wait until people commit a crime before we offer them help."

She knows what it is like to be a victim, a therapist, and a counselor to criminals.

"So, all three sides of the current issues, I have information and that gives me a weapon against the violence," Sanders said.  

She knows exactly what the families in Newtown, Connecticut are going through. She's been there. She's asked the same questions of why.

"You can identify with the feelings of those families," she said. "What it's going to be like without their loved one, the waking up every day and realizing this is real and that this really happened and it really hurts."

Trying to help violent people become non-violent is something she is doing in the name of her father. Maybe it is the same kind of thing the families of the Sandy Hook victims will be searching for, themselves.

"I want those families to know that there's hope," Sanders said. "But, that this will never go away."

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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