By Audra D. S. Burch

October 15, 2017

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LEBANON, Conn. - Rob Sullivan still remembers the gun and the sound of his

mother's high-pitched pleas. Two thieves had burst into his parents'

Hartford home. Demanding his father's dope stash, one of the men placed a

gun to Rob's right temple. "Just give it to them," his mother begged his



He was 6 years old.

The incident, charred in his memory, was an early trauma among many he

recalls from his childhood. He watched his father beat his mother for not

having dinner ready on time or for not cleaning the house, he said. Often,

she fought back. Sometimes when he got home, his parents were too drunk or

high to let him in. Truancy charges landed him in juvenile detention in his

early teens.