Archive for May, 2014

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Anabella Hall, 36, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our thirty-first Survivor Stories interview is with Anabella Hall from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first two segments of this interview may be triggering to survivors of domestic violence.

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The Survivor Bio:

Anabella is the founder and CEO of her own Los Angeles based real estate and mortgage firm, Neighbor to Neighbor Advocates. Her firm focuses on assisting struggling homeowners with selling their underwater homes and persuading the banks to forgive the difference, as well as providing homeowners with the necessary information to be able to negotiate directly with their lenders, so that they will restructure their mortgages into terms that are more affordable. In addition to her professional achievements, Anabella worked diligently with the Los Angeles Country District Attorney from 1999 through 2007 to help bring her father’s murderer to justice. Shortly after, she took on an active role as a board member with the non-profit organisation, Peace Over Violence, which advocates for victims of all types of violence. She is married to her best friend of eleven years and is expecting her first child with him. To get more information on Anabella’s community involvement, visit her website at www.bellavara.com.

Anabella Hall1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I married my estranged husband as a teenager after finding out that I was pregnant with his child, sadly after only knowing him for five months. I eventually left him after he attempted to choke me with a rope in our own home, and it had been less than two months when he attacked me again. In 9 April 1999, I was shot in the head after being kidnapped at gun point for over three hours, while he ranted and raved about how he would kill me if I didn’t return to him. The gunshot wound left me in a coma for a week and physical rehabilitation for months. I was thrown into the judicial system to immediately testify at his arraignment, bail hearings, and attempted murder trial procedure. It was terrifying knowing that he was out on bail and, leading up to the trial, I feared every second of my life that he’d continue to hurt me. During the first week of the trial, he ultimately did by burglarising by parent’s home at 3 o’clock in the morning and opening fire at my father, murdering him in front of my entire family. He immediately fled the country and left us on a seven year fugitive manhunt. He was captured in 2007 and is now in prison.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual? 

After being kidnapped for hours, I finally convinced him that I would return to him and we’d work out our relationship. He believed me and drove me back to my car, where I immediately called 911 after he left me in my own car. I began driving myself to the police station while on the phone with the police dispatcher, causing him to question my direction and follow me. Even though he had shot me, I was able to direct the officers to my direction, causing immediate help to myself. Ultimately, my escape saved my life.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take? 

Three years after my father’s murder and one year after losing my 8-year-old to cancer, I sought counselling and found a wonderful doctor who understand and treated victims of crime. I was in treatment for over a year and a half, learning how to grieve and accepting my new life. I learned that, although I had no control on someone else’s actions, I definitely have control of my own. I learned that horrible, violent things happen to many people, but those of us who learn that violence doesn’t solve anything will persevere. I learned that life goes on and how to live healthily and enthusiastically. I remained involved with the community, participating in county and city vigils, as well as marches to raise awareness for domestic violence.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did? 

Always listen to your inner voice. If you feel it’s wrong, it probably is. Get help from the appropriate people. Resources, such as hotlines and non-profit organisation, are there to help guide you towards a healing path. You are not alone; reach out and be part of the solution for yourself and others. Stay committed to a journey of healing. Life is a journey and staying healthy requires education, awareness, and involvement. As time passes, you’ll find that the hurt is much less than it used to be.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women? 

Education, removal of social stigmas associated with victim blaming, and creating a zero tolerance to violence will help us end violence against women. We need to eliminate violence from our environment in our homes, schools, and workforce, in action and in our vocabulary. Educating both men and women what the early to late stages of violent behaviour look like and knowing the side effects of trauma can help the victim and society understand how to get and/or offer help. We need to set more standards for basic human interaction within our families, friends, and colleagues, effectively breaking the silence about healthy relationships.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project? 

I support The Pixel Project because they engage men in the anti-violence against women movement and this is key to its success. We all need role models and examples of great people before us, people who are still with us, and the successors that will follow us. If we can create more awareness, more respect, more tools to deal with the violence problems we have today, we will have more goodness and less hurt.

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Monica Day, 49, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our thirtieth Survivor Stories interview is with Monica Day from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio: 

Monica Day survived and overcame the trauma of a 16 year emotionally, financially, sexually and physically abusive marriage.  It is Monica’s heart’s desire to save other women and young ladies from suffering in silence as she did.  Monica has dedicated her life to speaking out against teen dating violence and domestic abuse and teaching women and girls the signs of an abusive relationship. 

Monica Day is the author of “Praying Through Your Storms” and the founder of Daylight Awareness & Prevention Agency, Inc. She has done presentations for youth groups, Girl Scout troops and College organisations.  Monica has spoke out against domestic abuse on CNN’s News Now and In Session Court TV.

Monica's photoshoot3

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I survived and overcame 16 years of emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse. I know what it is like to be publicly humiliated and embarrassed.  I also know how hard it is to admit to yourself that you have been abused.  I have travelled the journey of healing and put my life back together.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

While my ex-husband was in the shower one night, my daughters and I quickly loaded up the car and ran. We hid the car and spent the night with a relative and then early the next morning got on the road.  I was fortunate enough to have a family home to go to.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

In order to heal I first had to admit to myself that I was abused.  I received counselling and began to share my story.  Telling my story was very therapeutic for me.  2 years later I filed for divorce and began to submerge myself in helping other women. I did a lot of writing in my journal along the way.  The more I speak out and help others the more I heal.  I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed.

To put my life back together I created a list of things I needed to do and things I wanted to do.  It was a slow process but I completed all of the items I needed to do and I still have a few items that I want to do.    These list helped me get back to being the Monica I wanted and needed to be for me.

I have started an organisation called Daylight, Inc to speak out against domestic violence.  I do workshops and presentations on domestic violence.  I help other victims and survivors with safety planning and finding emergency resources.  I counsel other women and help them put their lives back together after leaving an abusive marriage.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

It is not your fault.  Love is not abuse.  You are not alone and there are others who have been where you are.  Take your voice, your power and your life back. I recommend counselling and journaling. I also think the more you share your story the more you see you are not alone and you help others as you heal.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

If we could help everyone understands violence is not a relationship issue.  This is a community issue.  Violence against women affects everyone whether at work, church, school and in public places.  Once people begin to understand that this is our problem and not her problem as well as the affects of violence against women I believe we’ll be able to bring an end to violence against women.

It is my desire to work in the faith based communities to educate Church leaders and others on the types of violence and abuse against women, the affects of violence and to show them how they can help victims within their congregations and what resources they could make available or what organizations they can partner with to bring an end to violence against women.

I believe the more we get men involved in ending violence against women the sooner we’ll see the end of violence against women.  If we all work together, speak up and speak out we can and will bring an end to violence against women.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel project because it is very important and instrumental in bringing awareness to the violence against girls and women.  The Pixel Project, because it is a virtual organisation will reach more people than many other organisations.  More people are able to join in and connect with the vision and mission of the Pixel Project because it is a virtually global organisation.  The more people connected allows for more people to share and bring awareness to the violence against girls and women.

The Pixel Project is definitely a leader, if not the leader in bringing awareness to the violence against girls and women.  Covering all of the social media sites, new technologies and popular culture and arts is a sure way of reaching every planet and every person on each planet.

I truly believe in the vision and mission of the Pixel Project.

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Christina Blackburn, 40, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-ninth Survivor Stories interview is with Christina Blackburn from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Christina M. Blackburn is the founder of Speranza Human Compassion Project, an early stage, volunteer led collaborative whose mission is to provide innovative solutions to prevent and end violence against women and children. Speranza partners with universities worldwide to research & develop impactful cause related public media and educational training for first responders and professionals in victim services. Christina was the victim of domestic violence seven years ago and is now a pioneer for families in crisis.  Her goal is to inspire women to make better life choices through solution driven education and creative awareness campaigns. Domestic violence is 100% preventable.  What are we waiting for?  Speranza means “HOPE” in Italian.

Christina Blackburn PA4

 

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was the victim of verbal violence and physical assault by my then husband.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

One day I woke up and decided this was the end. I was either going to die that day or I would never see him again. If I had to see him it would only be under court order, such as our child support and custody case. I lived, and he has only laid his eyes on me in court and in passing when I drop our children off 4 times a year.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

I was so happy when I realised I lived. I did not expect to be that happy as I looked very bad and had no money or place to live. I went to the local shelter that accepted me. My roommate helped me get the assistance needed to leave my abuser successfully. I started examining my past relationships and other cycles of abuse that I allowed and realized I facilitated the problem by not speaking up, allowing the behavior to progress and by not leaving sooner. I started studying Psychology and learning more and more about how the brain works and about mental disorders. I then wrote a book to help women who were being abused and in the process it really helped me and my current boyfriend. I donated 50 copies of my book to the women’s shelter here in Philadelphia. I started a project to educate professionals that work directly with victims on how to provide effective compassionate care. We also empower women through mass media, by teaching them how to problem solve effectively for themselves and their children.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

If I could talk to myself back then I would have wanted real dialogue. I wish that I had been told that acting like there is no problem is allowing the problem to continue. Just because you do not know what to do to get out of the relationship, does not mean that you do nothing. You must be aware of what is going on in your home. If it is not a good environment for you it is not good for your children, period. You have to begin making a plan for something more.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

Through education and the media. By offering real common-sense solutions to problems women face in relationships and with their self worth. By exposing them to solution-oriented information daily, in the same way we see ads for cancer or autism awareness.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it goes along with the mission of our project and what we believe in. Having hard conversations and bringing this issue to light through various mediums is important and a good start.

THE SURVIVORS STORY PROJECT: Dawn F., 45, Canada

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-eighth Survivor Stories interview is with Dawn F. from Canada.

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The Survivor Bio:

Dawn F. works with a women’s society and supports women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest postal code. She has continued her education and is learning her Secwepemc Native Culture. She is the proud, single mother of a 22 year son. Dawn survived domestic violence and inter-generational trauma from her parents and grandmother attending Indian Residential School. At a young age she witnessed violence between her parents. The cycle of violence affected her entire life, and all relationships including with her son, her parents and partners. She turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, but then turned to recovery and is now four years sober.

DawnF1

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence ?

My childhood and teen years were filled with violence. My parents were Indian Residential School survivors and coped by drinking and hosting raging parties. I, my brother and cousins constantly heard screaming, yelling and smashing items. I saw my mom and dad fist fight and later saw my mom fist fight many people. After my parents divorced my brother became more violent towards me and physically abused me almost daily. He tormented me mentally and emotionally as well. I moved out at a young age to attend college at a nearby town, where I began drinking heavily. I was in two abusive relationships with men. My first relationship was at the age of 19, he beat me to the point of being hospitalised and the second man was a serial cheater and he also hit me. I separated from him and left with my son. At that time my life was chaotic at best.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

I had two major people that helped me escape. The first is my friend/sister Florence. We met when I was 13 years old. She supported me and never gave up on me throughout our 32 years of friendship. She guided me and pushed me to attend self-help programmes, substance abuse treatment and addictions counselling. And the second impact was my third partner Louis, he and I used drugs together and drank almost daily. He was emotionally and mentally abusive. He did not physically abuse me, but his words would hit below the belt. He made me feel small and unlovable. Then one day something happened with him and that single act was enough to wake me up and make me decide to not drink or use drugs anymore. I started off not drinking or using hourly, then daily then days turned to weeks, months and now years.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

As a couple we both decided to get clean and sober together. We both went to AA and NA meetings, I began to read the Big Book and attend counselling regularly. As I began to face and talk about my childhood issues I let go of the hurt and resentments, my life became bearable and I could feel hope returning to me. Unfortunately, my ex-partner decided to relapse multiple times and we decided to separate. I went to treatment to further my healing journey and give myself the skills to continue with my sobriety. I moved back home for a short time and learned my traditional Native cultural ceremonies and sweat lodge ceremony protocols to help me with my spirituality.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

I experienced many violent situations and relationships. I didn’t know how bad my situation was at the time. I just knew it felt wrong to be going through these experiences. It was difficult to develop trusting relationships with family and friends, but eventually I found a few people who I could vent to. It felt good to release “secrets” and validate that it wasn’t my fault. These people supported me and listened to me and I eventually took their advice and left the situation and/or relationship. They helped me to safety and guided me toward a more positive lifestyle. It may take days or years to follow through with escape plans but deep down you know it could save your life. There is no shame in leaving or asking for help. You and/or your children are worth it.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

I will speak from a Native perspective. I believe we should first take responsibility for ourselves and our healing journey. As mothers we hurt our children who sometimes, grow up to hurt other people. Us, Native people need to work hard and diligently on our cultural protocol and educating our children. We need to teach our Indigenous languages to our children and our way of life. We need to teach spirituality at a young age and to respect the Earth. When we have love and respect for ourselves and other people there is no violence. Violence is not taught or tolerated and is not our way of life.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because I do not want to see any more suffering amongst females. When we can live free of violence of any kind, we are free in our hearts, minds, bodies and

The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” Interview – Courtney Jenaé

As part of  The Pixel Projects 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days project in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, we talk to the artistes who have participated in the project about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our ninth featured artiste is Courtney Jenaé. Courtney began singing at age 15 in high school. After graduating college with a certificate in vocal music, Courtney moved to Los Angeles to pursue her singing career. Shortly thereafter, Courtney signed with an independent record label Wondr Music and released her E.P. “Uncovered” along with a music video for her latest single “Accelerate” which is available on iTunes. Her songs have been featured on TV shows like “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami”, “Bad Girls Club”, MTV’s “Real World” and more. You can find Courtney performing all throughout California. Courtney is an artist to watch out for. With her talent and passion for music, Courtney is poised to take the music world by storm. This is only the beginning. You can follow her updates on Facebook, or check out her music videos on YouTube.

Courtney contributed her song, “Breaking Free” to the “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” campaign in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate here.

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Courtney JenaeTell us about yourself and why you decided to take part in The Pixel Project
s 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days project.

I have been singing since I discovered my talent in high school. Since then, I’ve moved to Los Angeles, USA and worked with different producers and songwriters and I’ve also been writing music for others and myself. I want to use my talents to make a difference. Having the opportunity to be a voice in this project to end violence against women is only one of the many ways I am able to contribute. And writing my song ‘Breaking Free’ was a turning point for me, and my growth as a powerful woman.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

There are many girls and women who face different forms of violence everywhere. It is something that definitely needs to be talked about in order to begin the process of change. Girls and women everywhere shouldn’t feel ashamed of what they’ve been through or are going through. I know that we can change the future by keeping our ears, minds and hearts open.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Music is a universal language that can be shared between any culture. It is one of the easiest and strongest ways to inspire change. There have been many songs throughout history about world peace and ending discrimination, which have inspired cultures to change. Songs such as “Imagine” by John Lennon, and “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are just a couple of examples. Music is an art that every generation can identify with, and it’s just one more way we can help in the efforts of ending violence against women.

What actions can music artistes take to help end violence against women?

By getting involved in projects like this, it gives us musicians the opportunity to use our talents for the good of others. To have a voice in ending violence against women is priceless. It’s one more step in the right direction and I feel honoured to be a part of it.

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The “Music For Pixels 2014″ charity digital album is available from 1 April 2014 – 1 April 2015 as a companion to the “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” campaign. The album features a selection of 12 positive and empowering songs from the campaign by artistes including  Adam Web, AHMIR, AJ Rafael, Bob Sima, Courtney Jenae, Debbie Reifer, Delaney Gibson, Ellis, Macy Kate, Mary Sholz, Pete Ahonen, and Troy Horne

The album is the perfect and affordable gift for music lovers and for celebrating special occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day. It is available for download worldwide via major online music retailers including iTunes and Amazon.com. 100% of the album proceeds will benefit The Pixel Project to help keep their anti-Violence Against Women campaigns, projects, and programmes running.

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THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Carol Wilson, 42, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-seventh Survivor Stories interview is with Carol Wilson from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first two segments of this interview may be triggering to some survivors of rape.

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The Survivor Bio:

Carol Wilson currently works in a victim services programme, where she has been Programme Director for over ten years. She has an Associates of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and a Master’s Degree, and has received numerous hours of training in sexual and domestic violence, and stalking, as well as training and responding to victims of trauma. Seven years ago, she was sexually assaulted by a colleague and a trusted best friend of an ex-boyfriend. Following the assault, Carol Wilson continued to work in victim services, helping others rebuild their lives following criminal victimisation.

Carol Wilson 21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was sexually assaulted by my ex-boyfriend’s best friend, someone I also considered a friend. I knew him through work, we had attended several social functions together, and I spoke with him often about work-related matters and my recent break-up. He came into my house under false pretences of breaking up with his girlfriend and needing to talk, but shortly after arriving, he physically picked me up, carried me into my spare bedroom, forcibly removed my loose-fitting pants and raped me.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

I said, “No,” and struggled to get away at first, but he held me down by his weight and my body was pushed up against pillows stacked against the bed headboard, so I could not squirm away. Eventually, I realised I could not fight it and just laid still. That’s when he stopped. I then pretended like everything was normal until I could get away from him.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

At first, it took me a long time to acknowledge that a professional colleague and someone I considered a close friend had raped me. I had difficulty sleeping and tried to numb the pain with alcohol, and sought solace in short-term relationships that were doomed to fail. I felt guilty for not coming forward because I knew he was a sexual predator, but I knew how difficult it would be to prove the case given his job, his standing, and my reaction of “playing normal” following the assault. It took me several months, but I eventually started to return to normal. For me, I made the choice to NOT try to avoid him. It was important for me to feel like he hadn’t won, had not chased me from our social circle or my job. Also, I eventually told someone who was supportive and that helped me logically understand that the assault was not my fault. Over time, I have integrated that experience into who I am as a person and can speak about it more freely without pain.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

First, I wish I had been more cautious about letting this person into my home. Even though I thought I knew him, I realised in retrospect that there had been warning signs that this might happen – please, please, please trust your instincts! Rapists are master manipulators who can get close to you to learn how you think, your fears, and your weaknesses to not only gain access to you at a vulnerable time, but to use subtle controls to keep you from making an outcry. If you do find yourself in this situation, do whatever you feel you need to do to survive with the least physical, emotional, and psychological damage. Don’t try to hold your story in; don’t try to control the pain yourself. That is a road that leads to more darkness that you might regret once you regain yourself and equilibrium. Find someone you can confide in and let it out – the betrayal, the shock, the fears, the anger, the pain. For me, it was like a festering boil – once I began to be able to write and talk about it, some of the pressure was released. Whatever happens, however, remember that rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. Don’t carry that sense of blame and shame with you. It will destroy your spirit.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

The solution ultimately rests with controlling or stopping the rapist. As so many of these predators often go undetected for years with a trail of victims in their wake, it is obvious that controlling the perpetrators is not an easy answer, especially when so few are arrested and even fewer are convicted due to societal myths and disbeliefs about what rape is. Rape is a societal problem. We must teach all people that nobody is an object to be used. We must educate young men that rape is not the “norm.” We must educate the population as a whole about what sexual assault is, how it affects the victim, and how to intervene in situations that suggest a victim is not consenting or awake/aware of what is going on. Sexual assault is a terrible, life-stealing crime. It has remained a silent, taboo topic for too long.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Sexual assault has been in the shadows for too long. It’s time to realise that it doesn’t happen to “them” or “that kind of woman,” but can happen to any woman – our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbours, coworkers. It can even happen to people educated about sexual assault, and rape trauma can happen to those who have received training in reactions that occur following sexual violations. We don’t blame people who have their car stolen for having a car. Why do we blame rape victims for being raped because they were walking alone, drank alcohol, wore a “short” dress or have genitalia? Women everywhere are being sexually assaulted and sitting alone in silence due to fear of blame and judgement of social circles and media, and fear of not being believed by police or the courts. By helping society understand that rape can happen to any women, The Pixel Project will begin to undo some of the damaging messages about rape victims, help make our society a better place for justice for those who have suffered this most grievous indignation, and begin to create a climate where sexual offenders cannot hide.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Denise Escher, 42, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-sixth Survivor Stories interview is with Denise Escher from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The description in the first two segments of this interview may be triggering for some survivors of domestic violence.

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The Survivor Bio:

Denise Escher is a 42-year-old female domestic violence survivor, mother to two sons and three fur baby kitties, wife, paralegal, runner, and local domestic abuse project volunteer. She loves music, Facebook, working hard, running, shopping, hanging with her family, and spending time with her friends.

Denise Escher 11. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

On 14 February 2009, I was brutally attacked by my then-husband. He stabbed me a total of eleven times with five different butcher and steak knives. This was done in my mother’s home, where we were temporarily living. After repeated stabs, the knife broke and he dragged me across the kitchen floor to grab another weapon. He attempted to stab my face and neck, but due to my frantic defence with my arms, was only successful in stabbing my back and chest. Our sons, then ages six and three, watched in horror. I called for my six-year-old son to call 911 but he began to cry and scream uncontrollably when he saw his father stabbing me.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

When my husband let go of me to comfort our son, I dashed for the door and ran barefoot into the street. I headed to house of an elderly lady that my mother provided for as a weekend job, but ended up at their neighbour’s house instead. The neighbour recognised me, called 911, and went next door to get my mother. By the time my mother came outside, the police were there. I have been free from abuse since that day.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

I started rebuilding my life by finishing what I had started before the attack – getting my Master’s in Education in Secondary Education. Four weeks after the stabbing, I passed my state Praxis teacher’s exams. I finished student teaching and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I attended weekly counseling sessions, did a lot of reading, and took up running. In 2013, I completed my first half-marathon. I met the true love of my life and got married in August 2012. We recently purchased our first home together in September. I also became a local advocate as a trained volunteer with my local Domestic Abuse Project. I have a tattoo on my inner left forearm that reads “Survivor” in Chinese, to remind me that I am here, I survived, and that others can, too.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

I would suggest becoming educated about abuse, learn what it looks like, learn what healthy relationships are supposed to look like, and how to get out safely. Safety Planning is essential to staying safe while escaping an abuser. Also, KNOW YOUR WORTH. Know that any type of abuse or assault is wrong and no matter how you might have allowed someone to treat you yesterday, it doesn’t define you forever, and it doesn’t mean you have to allow them to treat you the same way today. Don’t be afraid to confide in someone about what is happening. Seek help; there are many of us out here that will help you.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

Violence against women needs to be treated by the courts as a serious matter. Protection From Abuse orders are not enough. Real consequences for abuse are necessary: GPS monitors ensure that the perpetrators stay away from their victims and violations are immediately tracked and put in jail. We need to educate our young people about violence. Often it’s cyclical and runs in families, communities, and cultures. Children grow up to do what they see, so if a child grows up in a home and wider community where violence against women is prevalent, he/she thinks that’s what love “looks like.” We have to educate our youth and our offenders, show them what relationships look like and what they don’t look like.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it takes a village to raise a child, especially when this child is violence against women. It can’t happen with one person alone. People of all colours, races, genders, creeds, and sexual orientations need to stand together and ensure that violence against women is not be tolerated. This is the mission of The Pixel Project, and it is one of my life’s passions.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Karen Caroll, 58, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-fifth Survivor Stories interview is with Karen Caroll from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Karen D. Caroll has been a licensed Registered Nurse in the state of New York for more than 35 years. She has made numerous presentations throughout the state on the topics of sexual assault, forensic examiner programmes, and her personal experience as a survivor of marital rape. Ms. Caroll appears as one of five women in Fear No More: Stop Violence Against Women, a documentary shown on Lifetime Television in 2002, and her story is featured on four websites: www.raisinghervoice.com, www.voicesofcourage.com, www.voicesandfaces.org, and Project Stand at http://nobukoonline.com. She has two sons and four grandchildren.

Karen Carroll1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

In 1994, I was tied, gagged, and raped at knife point by my then-husband at the time. He had been removed from my home by court order three weeks earlier when he pulled a knife on me during an argument. As a young child, I witnessed physical violence between my mother and father. My mother, one of the strongest women I know, passed away on Mother’s day in 2002. Sharing my story is how I honour her experience.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

Having been exposed to domestic violence very early in my life, I grew up believing that I would never allow a man to hit me. When my husband pulled a knife on me during an argument, I knew immediately that I had to get an order of protection. As a nurse in the emergency department, I had advised countless women on keeping safe in abusive relationships. I knew that I could not live with a man that I was afraid may hurt me one day.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

Once my husband was arrested, tried, and convicted of rape, he was sent to prison. I was given an opportunity to speak publicly about my ordeal within 6 months. Speaking publicly was so motivating and helped me to realise that women need to hear that their life is not over. I have never spoken publicly where someone, usually women, have not come forward to say “the same thing happened to me.” I learned that 1994 did not happen to me because of what I did, but because of everything that I will do!

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

I have always advised women who have been in situations similar to mine to find a way to turn their mess into a message. Don’t be afraid to confide in someone you trust or talk to someone anonymously on a hotline. There are so many of us out there and knowing that you are not alone can be so empowering.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

I encourage everyone to speak out whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Don’t be a bystander; don’t sit by and listen when inappropriate comments are made. I believe that education and outreach to women, men, girls, and boys are the key. This is not a woman’s issue; it is a civil rights and public health issue. When we raise our children to respect everyone’s person and property, when we begin to break down the barriers of sexism, when we speak publicly about violence against women and hold perpetrators accountable, we will begin to make a dent in this global issue.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project reaches millions of people with their online campaigns, including the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project. I am committed to helping other women realise that they are beautiful, strong, and do not deserve to be abused. Perhaps my story will inspire someone to live their life to its fullest.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Paula Lucas, 55, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-fourth Survivor Stories interview is with Paula Lucas from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Paula Lucas is an international survivor of domestic violence, an author, and Founder & Executive Director of the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) and the Sexual Assault Support & Help for Americans Abroad Program (SASHAA). She lived overseas as an American expat for 14 years, living and traveling in Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East. She escaped her abusive ex-husband with her three sons and fled home to the USA for safety in 1999. She has dedicated the past 15 years of her life to helping other American women and children abused in foreign countries.

Paula Lucas1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

Living overseas as an American expat, everyone thought I had the perfect life, but my three sons and I were in a living hell. My ex-husband was brutally abusive – emotionally, psychologically, and physically. He would describe in graphic detail how he was going to kill us, then kill himself. I was trapped and the American Embassy couldn’t help me get out. I was left on my own to escape.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

I feel like God sent me an angel. A thief robbed my ex-husband on a train in Germany and he couldn’t get back in the country. I was able to find my children’s passport, and forge some documents for some money. I fled in the middle of the night, taking a plane from Dubai to New York, then a train across country to Portland, Oregon to my sister’s home with my small boys.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

I put all of my energy into helping other American women and children suffering in foreign countries. That was my therapy. I only wanted to look forward, instead of back. I have a very supportive family, too, and I am now married to a wonderful man. I wrote a book last year, Harvesting Stones, An American Woman’s International Journey of Survival. I was surprised by the suppressed trauma that surfaced but, through writing my story, I purged those terrible years. I feel completely free of my abuser now.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

There is help; you don’t have to suffer alone. If you are an American woman, or a foreign woman married to an American man overseas, please visit www.866uswomen.org for directions on how to contact us. Our crisis centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

We must teach our sons ways to express their emotions non-violently. It takes men to stop violence against women.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign showcases male role models who demonstrate that violence against women is unacceptable. This is the best way to stop violence against women. This organisation is awesome!

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Lynn Fairweather, 39, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. A total of 31 VAW survivor stories will be featured. This project was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our twenty-third Survivor Stories interview is with Lynn Fairweather from the U.S.A.
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The Survivor Bio:

Lynn Fairweather, MSW is an abuse survivor who has worked in the domestic violence response and prevention field for more than twenty years. As President of Presage Consulting and Training, she provides expert guidance and specialised education to professionals who confront domestic violence in both the public and private sector. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science, a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and multiple domestic violence training certifications. Ms. Fairweather has served in shelters and police departments, on multidisciplinary task forces, and has facilitated victim support groups and batterer’s intervention programmes. She is an active member in the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, and sits on the Board of Directors for Oregon’s Violence Against Women Political Action Committee. In 2012, Ms. Fairweather released her first book Stop Signs: Recognizing, Avoiding, and Escaping Abusive Relationships (Seal Press).

Lynn Fairweather1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I lived with my abuser for several years, during which I endured physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, and economic abuse.

2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

I was able to end the relationship, borrow money from my parents, and use it to move into my own apartment. This was the beginning of several months’ worth of stalking and harassment, including a violent attack. Eventually, I left the state when it became clear that he would not stop.

3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

I began and continue going to therapy, but my true, ongoing catharsis comes from my work. I have spent the last 20 years as a domestic violence advocate, counselor, speaker, and consultant. I serve in shelters, transitional housing programs, police stations, and courtrooms where I have helped thousands of victims find safety and freedom. I survived domestic violence, but it wasn’t enough for me to just heal myself. I felt like I had to do something to prevent as many women as possible from going through the same situation. In 2008, I opened Presage Consulting and Training, a specialised threat assessment firm that helps police, advocates, attorneys, and private corporations nationwide to evaluate and deal with the domestic violence dangers their communities face. I also put my knowledge and experience into a book, which seeks to educate and empower women to recognise, avoid, and escape abusive relationships. My work isn’t even close to finished, but now I’m a whole and confident human being with a happy marriage and two beautiful kids.

4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

First, I would urge all women, particularly young ones, to “armour up” by getting educated on what abuse and abusers look like, so they’ll be better equipped to avoid and identify domestic violence. Second, my message to someone who is already in it: please talk to an advocate and make a plan – this isn’t going to get better, so you have to begin preparing your exit. Look for allies, save up some money, and use the criminal justice and social service systems that are set up to help you. Third, a message to people who have already escaped: learn how to assess and manage any future threats your abuser may pose. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in fear, but you should have a solid foundation of knowledge about how to protect yourself and your children against further abuse.

5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

We are only going to win this war by getting everyone on board at every level. By this, I mean we begin educating children – boys and girls – at a very young age about healthy interactions and relationships. We should teach our kids skills in resilience, as well as respect for self and others. We must involve men, bystanders, employers, schools, and everyone else who can help to recognise and intervene in dangerous situations. We have to change our laws to give victims just as many rights as we give offenders. We need increased penalties for domestic violence and other types of violence against women, in addition to accountability measures, such as mandatory supervision and batterer’s intervention courses. We should fully fund programmes for domestic violence response and prevention, and support issues such as reproductive rights that frequently intersect with domestic and sexual violence. Lastly, we have to change the shaming and damaging mythology that our culture condones about violence against women and work with the media to promote messages of support toward victims, instead of perpetuating the blame and stigmatisation they frequently face when coming forward.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because domestic abuse and other types of gender-based violence feeds and grows on silence. If people hear survivors’ perspectives, they might recognise something within their own relationships or situations that could indicate future violence. They might realise it’s time to make a move and end the hell they’ve been living in. They can learn more about the subject and use that information to help a friend, neighbour, or co-worker that is being abused. I support The Pixel Project because it is bringing voices out of the dark and the only way we’ll ever really end violence against women is by shining our lights brightly enough to wake up the entire world.