Archive for May, 2014

THE SURVIVIOR STORIES: Christina Fernandez, 48, 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-second Survivor Stories interview is with Christina Fernandez from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Tina Fernandez is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, currently residing in Fremont, California. She is the mother of two teens and was a stay-at-home mother for 14 years following a brief career as a paralegal. Tina joined SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments), a non-profit organisation with over 35 years of expertise supporting victims of intimate partner abuse. Tina was named Assistant Director of Community Development in March 2014, and oversees marketing and communications, event planning and management, supporter and donor relations, fundraising, and general development strategies. In her spare time, Tina enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and raising chickens.

Christina Fernandez1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I grew up in a family in which there was family violence, including physical child abuse and emotional abuse. I suffered from very poor self-esteem as a child and was painfully shy, which continued into my 30s. As with many childhood survivors, I learned to cope by wanting to be a peacemaker and developing anxiety and depression. My first serious relationship was with a controlling man I met in college and whom I married at age 25. He convinced me that our marriage would be better if we started a family and we soon had two children. When our son was three, he was diagnosed with autism and I became very depressed. Eventually I realised I couldn’t stay in the marriage because I didn’t like the effect the fighting and tension had on our children.

Soon after we divorced, I met a man who promised to take care of me and my children, bought me gifts, and complimented my appearance – things that my ex never did. Within 9 months, he became increasingly hard to please and would tell me that no one else would want me or my kids. I felt as though I was walking on eggshells, always trying to find everything to please him. When I did things he didn’t like, he would “freeze” me out or would tell me I was “too sensitive” when I talked about how I was feeling. I became isolated from friends and family, and it felt impossible to break the break-up-and-make-up cycle. He would show up at my house and apologise and I always felt sorry and took him back.

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

By chance, I began volunteering at an organisation that supports victims of domestic violence. Though my husband wasn’t happy about it, I started questioning our relationship dynamic and standing up for myself. Eventually, he rejected me and, after nine years, I was finally free. I was afraid to be alone but realised that I could be happier without him. I moved my things out and never spoke to him again.

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

I talked a lot with my mom, who was very supportive, and a counselor. I started realising I could start over and that I deserved a happy life. Today, I could not be more grateful that it’s over. I regret that my kids witnessed my ex-fiancée’s rages and his abuse of us. I know I can’t get the years back I spent with him but now I know that I will never allow myself to be treated that way again. Sometimes I am asked what drew me to this work and I reply honestly because I want them to know that I am the face of domestic violence, a woman who is educated, has a career and family, friends, and many interests. I am confident, happy, professional, vibrant, and free. I want others to know that it is possible to start over and live without violence.

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

I would tell her the same things I tell my children: that no one has the right to abuse you and that we all deserve to be treated with love and respect. Abusers are the ones with the problem, not you. I also tell my kids that it’s important to set boundaries in ALL relationships, including friendships and family.

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

We can end violence against women by raising awareness and supporting organisations and efforts/campaigns that help prevent violence. Speaking up in safe ways when you suspect or see that someone is being abused is tremendously important. We can’t make a difference if we stay silence.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the project because I firmly believe that we can all make a difference in ending intimate partner violence and other forms of violence against women. No one should live in fear. Everyone deserves to be safe, loved, and empowered.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Coral Anika Theill, Over 21, 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-first Survivor Stories interview is with Coral Anika Theill from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Coral Anika Theill is a survivor of childhood molestation and abuse, rape, domestic violence, marital rape, spiritual abuse, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. Coral’s published works address abuse and trauma recovery and, most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her memoir, BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. She believes, “When we can truly embrace our pain and suffering and are able to be authentically grateful for our wounds and the brutality that we may have endured, we become ‘healed healers.’” For more information on Coral Anika Theill, visit www.coralanikatheill.com.

Coral Annika Theill 21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

What I experienced in my childhood and my marriage, as well as within the churches and court system, amounts to nothing less than hate crimes with a gender bias. In the course of my marriage, I was drawn against my will into several extreme Christian cults that emphasised patriarchal authority and the obedience of women. I was treated as a possession, a slave. Physical exhaustion, birth trauma, and a home environment that gave no support contributed to my mental and physical collapse in April 1993. Two years before I finally escaped from my husband, I suffered a breakdown – a partial stroke and severe depression – after the birth of my seventh child. While nearly catatonic, my husband forced me to have sex – his ‘right’ in the marriage, but rape to me – and I became pregnant again. After the birth of my eighth child, I recovered physically and mentally, and divorced my husband. When I learned my two younger daughters were being molested by a member of our family, I sought safety for my 8 children and myself. Within a year, my three youngest children were forcibly removed by the courts and given to my ex-husband. In fact, I lost custody of all 8 children, and have not seen them for 16 years.

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

I learned that true freedom begins that day we walk away from fear, scarcity, blame, and guilt. I legally changed my name and entered a state address protection programme in 1999 and participated in counseling with a trusted mentor for several years, as well as stayed connected with supportive friends. As I began to seek the truth that would create wholeness for me, mentors and friends assisted me in remembering who I truly was apart from my trauma. They taught me how to respect and honour the sacredness of my being.

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

I began journaling and later published my memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark. Through writing, I created what is called a “healing crisis.” My greatest coping tool I possessed was my own still, quiet voice – my intuition. As I began to listen to my own inner voice, the lights within me turned back on and I became more aware of myself and the world around me. I value this gift – intuition – because it has never failed me. To heal properly, I discovered it was important to pick up the pieces I had left behind. This process is different for everyone, but the result is the same: you will, once again, discover your true essence. I believe that to heal from our trauma, we must be able to tell the absolute truth and face it squarely. Your trauma is not who you are, it is just what happened to you. In my quiet times, I still feel moments of raw pain from my past. I look at it for what it is: a catalyst for me to find the sacredness of my inner being, to realise more of myself and who I truly am. I believe how we think and act and how beautifully our spirit responds to our challenges is all that matters.

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

Keeping secrets binds up our energy and impacts our health and well-being. Once secrets are exposed to the light, they lose their power over you. I recommend seeking help through a trusted mentor or licensed counselor. If you think of yourself as a victim and are unable to move past this view, you won’t recover. If you see the violence only as a horrible event that happened to you and not allow it to prevent you from redefining your experience with a new spiritual outlook, you will recover. Choose life; move forward – with or without justice. Most victims have to recover without the conscience of their communities, cultures, and countries validating their story, without justice, and without restitution. I truly believe, though, that we are victimised twice if we do not seek justice. The journey of healing is a personal one for each individual and is not to be judged. The balancing act of trusting your own boundaries and recognising where people are in their development is a continual lesson in life.

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

New legislation that would promote safety and wellness for women, children, and families involved in domestic violence is needed. In our society, domestic violence is encouraged and condoned by patriarchal religious organisations. Women and children are taught shame, fear, guilt, and that the patriarchal hierarchy must be lived out in the homes. The courts are an extension of our patriarchal heritage that views women as less valuable than men. As long as we continue to condone those in power who harm and victimise innocent people, then we will continue to witness injustices against those who are vulnerable and unable to protect and defend themselves. Our judicial system needs our voice so that injustices that others and I have suffered will not continue. I believe that the only way to move things is to speak the truth in the face of fear. A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because they recognise the importance of raising awareness about the role of men and boys in helping to stop violence against women in their communities. By promoting positive role models and healthy masculinity, young boys and men can learn to use their strength to help create communities free from violence. I believe in inspiring young men to create their own positive definitions of masculinity, manhood, and strength, to embrace the concept of personal responsibility, and replace risky and violent masculine attitudes and behaviours with attitudes of respect of the self and others. Young men will translate their learning into community leadership and help to do their part to end violence and build safe communities.

The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” Interview – Diverse Attentions

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 eighth featured artiste is Diverse Attentions, a 4-piece band that was formed at the end of year 2009 in Singapore. Full for passion and enthusiasm, they were formed to express their interpretations of music ranging from a wide variety of musical styles, Diverse Attentions shows versatility in their musical works and also their dynamic engagement on stage and towards their audiences. You can follow Diverse Attentions’ updates on Facebook, or watch their videos on YouTube.

Diverse Attentions contributed their song, “Get Up” 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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Diverse Attentions

Tell us about yourself and why you decided to take part in The Pixel Projects 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days project.

We decided to take part in this project because we believe that every woman, and, every person in the world deserves freedom and respect.  And through this project, we would like our followers to also receive the message and support this good cause too.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

Everyone deserves respect, be it women or men. However, not everyone has the courage to step up for their choice and for their freedom. With this project, we know that we can help these women pick themselves up.

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

Music is always a healing tool. It gives off a positive energy to our souls. We can self motivate and inspire ourselves with music. And through this channel, who knows? We can inspire the weaker to stand up and be stronger!

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

Artistes and musicians can do their part by spreading this message to their followers, and also write songs that empower this project!

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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: Robin Blue, 53, 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 twentieth Survivor Stories interview is with Robin Blue from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Robin Blue is an advocate, public speaker, and juvenile intervention specialist. She received her certification for the Treatment of Eating Disorders in 2008, and also holds certifications for batterers’ intervention group facilitation, anger management, and domestic violence groups. She never imagined having the opportunity to finish her education, but is now in her first year of graduate school, after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2013. She has survived domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and sex trafficking. Above all, she is a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.

Robin Blue1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault, though I had no memory of it until I was 29 years old. I remembered the incident in a session of psychotherapy after I had been going to therapy for nearly five years. I was coerced into sex trafficking at the age of 17 and experienced multiple beatings by pimps and partners. It was impossible for me to maintain a stable relationship with anyone even after I got away from that danger of the streets. I felt weak and vulnerable, though still strong for surviving as long as I had. I did not know what hit me the first time I was struck by a domestic partner. I believed I deserved it because of who I was. In trying to escape my past, it would get thrown in my face, literally with a hand, fist, or object.

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

I remember running to a phone booth in California with a bloody nose after being abused by a pimp and calling my mother in Oregon, pretending everything was fine. I told her I wanted to come home for Thanksgiving. Somehow she knew that I was not okay and sent for me with a one-way ticket. I was six months pregnant and weighed 96 pounds when I arrived. A little over a month later, I delivered a very premature baby boy. His birth was pivotal in my life; he changed me. I started believing in myself and understood that there was another human being that depended on me for his life. Becoming a mother was the beginning of my escape, though it would take several years to experience complete freedom from abuse. Escape came in many forms – sometimes running for my life in the middle of the night or taking a cab with my children in tow. I reached out to anyone who would help me and, eventually, I was finally free.

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

Healing and rebuilding from abuse is a lifetime process. I have learned that self-care needs to take precedence, while health care is also incredibly important. I have had over 30 surgeries to rebuild and repair my body after a violent attack in 1989. Having survived traumatic injuries, it became a priority for me to learn about rape and abuse, and to teach others what I had learned. I have done street outreach for women in the sex industry, worked with adolescents by talking about date rape, shared my story and provided prostitution and pornography trainings, as well as provided workshops on domestic violence to local organisations and shelters. All of these things helped me heal from my own wounds. Eventually, I started my own non-profit organisation and wrote a programme to help people heal from their own personal traumas. I still seek counselling and find safe people to talk to when I am triggered. I remember that no one has to go it alone!

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

I would tell her that gender-based abuse and violence are never the fault of the victim and would encourage her to believe she is courageous because she survived. I would share with young girls who were in situations like mine the value of their worth. It is important to be reminded all that they have to live for. When gender-based violence occurs, the part of you that is intimately and beautifully female gets skewed and stripped away, bit by bit. I would share that, while people might not understand what you are going through, it is still your process and there is hope. I would share all resources I have with her. I would applaud her bravery.

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

I think we can end violence against women through collaborative projects like this. I am of the worldview that women are typically silenced for their thoughts and behaviours globally, and this is something that needs to change. Education is the key to prevention. Providing curriculums to schools that specifically address issues of gender-based violence starting in middle school and allowing students faced with violence to receive counselling is a huge first step. Supporting survivors is essential to stopping violence in the home, emergency room, church, and school. Believing her is the first step. Taking a stand requires action.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because I am the mother of three children, two of which are adult males who are amazing, loving, and non-violent. Initiatives that support the roles of men in stopping violence against women are crucial to actually stopping violence. My adult son is involved and engaged in his community as a role model for other young adolescent boys and this achievement cannot be understated. I am in support of this project because it is critical that violence against women be stopped. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one of The Pixel Project’s partners, supported me when they came to my state and gave me a forum where I was able to share my story. It is because of wonderful, caring people and the services that they were able to provide for me that I was learn about domestic and sexual violence. In turn, I am able to help others.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Kelly Wilson, 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 nineteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Kelly Wilson from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Kelly Wilson is an author, comedian, and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, trying to maintain sanity through laughter. She is the author of Live Cheap & Free and Don’t Punch People in the Junk. Her third book, Caskets From Costco, demonstrates the certainty of hope and healing in an uncertain and painful world through her own story of survival. Kelly Wilson currently writes for a living and lives with her Magically Delicious husband, junk-punching children, dog, cat, and stereotypical minivan in Portland, Oregon. Read more about her at www.wilsonwrites.com.

Kelly-Wilson-headshot-for-Pixel-Project1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of my father. Both of my parents were alcoholics and my mother was a classic enabler. When I came forward as a teenager about my abuse, she left my dad, only to take him back a short time later. He eventually left our family, which has since imploded, and the last I heard was that they both continue to blame me for the abuse I experienced.

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

When I was 17, my dad left and the rest of my family moved to another state. I lived with a friend’s parents to finish my senior year of high school and was able to get a full-ride scholarship to attend college in Portland, Oregon. This has been my dream and plan for escape since I was 10 years old.

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

I went through many years of counseling, which I continue now, as well. I made it through school and read a tonne about surviving and thriving after trauma like this. I wrote my experiences into a book – Caskets From Costco – that I hope will offer enough hope to help others. I practice taking basic care of myself, including taking anti-depressant medication, attending counseling sessions, building a strong support system, eating a balanced diet, sleeping well, and exercising regularly. As I tell my husband, “This is a tonne of work, my friend.”

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

Ask, ask, ask for help until you get what you need. You are strong and capable. You can do this, but you must seek the help you need. Choose hope.

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

It’s really important for us to stand together against all kinds of violence against women. This allows for support for survivors at any stage of their personal journeys and brings awareness to people around the world about the depth and breadth of this issue. Prevention through education is also key to ending this violence. It’s essential to break through dated cultural and societal traditions, providing victims with options and hope, and perpetrators with possible rehabilitation. Lastly, one of my personal goals is to help end the stigma against mental illness. Because of the perceptions and lack of education about mental illness, people do not seek out the help that they need, which ultimately perpetuates abusive cycles.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I know personally how hard it is to get out of an abusive situation and how much damage can be done. I, also, know that, as a survivor, I have the power to break the cycle. I have hope and can work toward healing. I want other survivors to understand this, too, and The Pixel Project is helping to make that happen.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Angeline Phillips, Beyond 21, 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 eighteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Angeline Phillips from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first segment of this interview may be triggering for some survivors of domestic violence.

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The Survivor Bio:

KyUnPum (Angeline A. Phillips) is a lifetime resident of Satus, WA and an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. She graduated from a public high school where students of colour were labelled poverty stricken and given limited opportunities of success. At 22, KyUnPum became a mother. The father had abusive behaviour, forcing her to become a single parent of three. When her children were teenagers, she enrolled in Heritage University as a full-time student while working as a full-time counselor with the Yakama Nation Domestic Violence Programme. After graduating with honours from Heritage, she continued providing domestic violence victims’ counseling and facilitating men and women’s perpetrator re-education programmes using the Moral Reconation Therapy workbook. Currently, KyUnPum is the Yakama Nation Probation Officer and Supervisor. Her accomplishments include being the first enrolled Yakama to complete the Tribal Probation Academy, being recognised by the Women Spirit Coalition as a 2011 Envision Award Recipient in Eliminating Violence Against Native Women, and promoting the wellbeing of Native Families and Communities. She is the youngest of 14 siblings, the mother of three children, and the grandmother of four.

Angeline Phillips1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was repeatedly called disrespectful names until I began to believe that he was right. When he first punched me, I didn’t fight back. I allowed him to hit me because he told me that I deserved it. I was forced to have sexual intercourse with him after having a c-section birth to prove my devotion to him. While nursing our second child, he grabbed the baby away from me and picked me up by pinching my nipples and slamming me into the bedroom closet. I was forbidden by him to nurse the baby after that. Following several months of ridicule and accusations, I became pregnant with our third child. He threatened to kill me after I gave birth to her, claiming that I was messing around on him. He would never consent to a blood test but did consent to being the father in paternity court for all three of our children.

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

After six-and-a-half years of the on-and-off relationship with my children’s father, I began to realise that it didn’t have to be this way. I reminded myself of a time I was six years old and hiding under a bed with my mom because my dad was looking for her with a machete knife to kill her. I didn’t want to end up hiding with my children to save our lives. When I finally fought back to free myself from his grasp around my neck, I told myself I would never go back to this relationship, even when he threatened me and stalked me. Afterwards, I stood my ground and believed in myself once again. I finally ran, left it behind me. I never wanted the abuse to exist in the lives of my three children and myself.

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

I cried for days on end, wondering if I made the right decision. One early morning while crying out to the Creator, I heard a hawk outside of the house. It flew over me, screeching, making its presence known and it was then I found strength and courage within myself. I leaned on my mom and my auntie for guidance. They encouraged me to build my life up and do what I always wanted to do: get a job to raise my children, contact friends and become sociable again, get active with people my age, get interested in our culture and traditions, and gain self confidence to live life as a single parent. They offered counseling sessions as we traveled to our sacred mountains, assisted with daily chores so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed, and gave me unconditional support and love. And when I hear a screeching hawk, I am reminded of a spiritual strength that entered my soul at a time I was doubtful of my life.

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

Never give up on yourself. Never doubt your ability to live on your terms. Give yourself the love and respect you deserve, even when he tells you that you don’t deserve to be loved or to be respected. Confide in your most trusted woman friend, your mom, your auntie, or sister – one who will be your strength and comfort. Have a plan of escape, but don’t share it with others. Be affectionate with your children, love their fears away, let them know they will be safe with you despite the hell you are experiencing. Follow through with restraining orders, court orders, and other legal matters relating with the domestic violence issue. Get help! Now there are programmes available for victims of domestic violence. Back then, there were none or, if there were, I did not get familiar with them.

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

We can end violence against women by gaining knowledge through professions who have contact with victims at any given time. Provide support to all victims. Educate the public. Offer Perpetrator Re-Education classes. Inform the youth of domestic violence so they don’t become perpetrators or victims once they become involved in a relationship.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project due to the past silence of domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women amongst many different cultures, countries, and communities. To promote and support such an organisation means to promote healing of women suffering from the hands of an abusive partner, family member or cultural practice. Around the world, victims suffer from emotional, physical, and psychological abuse, and this sometimes ends in a tragic death. Victims of domestic violence need to be aware that there are sincere human beings who offer services and are available to assist in rebuilding and strengthening the lives of those who once experienced traumatic lifestyles at the hands of a perpetrator. No more silence; communication is the key in many languages with one heart.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Lisa Rojek Leiplein, 33, 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 seventeenth Survivor Stories interview is with Lisa Rojek Leiplein from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape living the wonderfully safe, ordinary life I never thought possible. I am a wife, mother, employee, daughter, friend, ministry leader, writer, reader, and music lover. I am passionate about educating others about the realities of gender-based violence and encouraging fellow survivors that it is possible to find hope and healing. I want survivors to know that their past does not define them and that they matter and their stories matter, no matter what.

Lisa Leplein1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

In my early 20s, I met a man who seemed sweet and charming. Before long he began to separate me from my essential supports: my parents, best friend, and church. It happened so subtly that I didn’t realise it until after the fact. When I voiced my discomfort, he was quick to make me doubt myself. It took me a long time to realise I was in a truly abusive relationship because he never hit me. He was controlling, manipulative, crazy-making, and verbally, emotionally, and sexually abusive, but because my idea of abuse was only physical violence, it took me too long to see what was happening. My first sexual experience was him raping me. I never knew there was such a thing as relationship rape before that. I submitted to his demands because I was afraid of what he would do to me or my family.

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

I am fortunate to have supportive parents and friends who never stopped fighting for me. One night, I called my parents and told them how bad things were. They met me with understanding, love, and support. The next morning when he left for work, I packed a getaway bag and went to my parents’ house. They protected me when he came over to try to manipulate and bully me into coming back. My mother had to physically restrain me from leaving with him. The next weekend, my parents and some friends helped me move my things out of the apartment I had shared with him.

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

My healing journey has been long and winding. When I first left my abuser, I called a local non-profit that provides services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I attended their introductory sessions and a domestic violence support group. The book It’s My Life Now was very helpful. About two years later, I re-entered counselling to process the sexual assault. A few years after that, I began seeing a new counsellor through my church who helped me more actively pursue healing. The work I had done in the past laid a good foundation, but several years after the relationship ended, I was ready to dig deep and face the effects the abuse still had on my life. Reconnecting with my faith gave me renewed hope and focus.

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

Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t talk yourself out of it. Make a plan and get to a safe place. If you don’t have family, friends, or co-workers you can trust, find your local domestic violence and sexual assault services center. I know it’s frightening to face the unknown, but you truly can have a safe, fulfilling life outside of your abusive situation. That first step towards safety can be scary, but it’s the best thing you will ever do for yourself. The violence you experienced will always be part of your story, but it will not always define you.

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

We need to break the silence, shame, and stigma surrounding violence against women. We need to keep speaking up, telling the truth, and demanding that attention be paid to these issues. We need both women and men to stand up for what is right and make the wholesale cultural attitude change that is needed to end violence against women a reality. We need safe places for women to share their stories and know they will be believed. Even one person speaking up and sharing her story makes a difference.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because they do vital work to raise awareness about violence against women in creative, tangible ways. Gender-based violence thrives in secrecy and shame, and The Pixel Project helps break down those walls through their online activism. They show that anyone can make a difference and provide ways for people to start conversations and get involved.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Deborah Monroe, 28, 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 sixteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Deborah Monroe from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Deborah J. Monroe is a published author. Her debut book, HURT NO MORE, talks about overcoming abuse.  Monroe is also a public speaker, advocate, mentor, blogger, wife, mother and founder of Victimize Me No More.  She received her Victim Advocacy certificate from Virginia Tech University and is currently a Psychology student at Liberty University.  She is the recipient of the NAACP Hometown Hero award.  As a recipient, she was given the honour to walk the red carpet at the 45th NAACP Image Awards.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their son. 

Deborah Monroe1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was a victim of child sexual abuse.  I was also in a 3-year abusive relationship while in college.  My abuser controlled who I could be friends with, what I wore and where I could go.  I was called all types of names, forced to have sex (including oral), I was beaten, forced to give over my money and had a loaded gun pointed to my head on several occasions.

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

My child abuse perpetrator eventually left me alone or possibly moved on to another victim.  As for my college relationship with my abuser, I used the safest way out.  I started to distant myself slowly by ignoring phone calls or messages from him and avoiding areas that he might be.  I also took out a protective order to ensure extra safety.  I was always told to take the safest way out and to never let your abuser know your plans or it would place you in greater danger.

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

I started to receive counselling (I am still receiving it) and  I realised that I not only needed to heal from my abusive relationship but also the abuse I suffered as a child.  I would recommend counselling to any victim or survivor.

In addition, I received my Victim Advocacy Certificate from Virginia Tech University and I am the founder of Victimize Me No More. I am also the author of Hurt No More and have learned that sharing my story helps grow stronger and I heal as I help heal others.

Finally, I learned to forgive and to release those who offended me.  If I had not released that anger then I would still be in bondage.

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

I would say that freedom is there and you have to fight for it.  I would let them know that they are not alone (even though it may seem that way). Also, that love does not make you walk on eggshells nor does it change you for the worse.  Living in fear is not living at all.  You are stronger than you realise so find your inner strength and leave that situation.

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

We can end violence against women in a number of ways. There needs to be tougher laws for convicted perpetrators, more trained advocates in the field, more women using their voices (silence can be deadly), more awareness, more education, and more community involvement. This will take the work of everyone.  Education about abuse and violence against women needs to start early.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it is what the world needs:  Their Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project is a great platform for survivors and they let everyone know that they are needed to end violence against women.  The Pixel Project sets the bar for other organisations and I know that because of them there will be many more survivors.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Christine Davis, 46, Germany and 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 fifteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Christine Davis from Germany and the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a native of Germany, with a background in Hotel & Restaurant Management and have been in the United States since 1993. I am currently working full time at a Financial Institution. I am a survivor of domestic violence and to give back I serve on the Board of a non-profit organisation in charge of the shelter for victims of domestic violence in my county. I also serve on the NC Domestic Violence Fatality review team. To keep in touch with my German roots I am on the leadership team of the American Council on Germany. In my spare time I paint on silk, often donating a piece of art or a portion of the proceeds from sales of my artwork to the cause to end violence against women.

Christine Davis1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I have experienced domestic violence at the hands of my ex-husband, in 1988-1989, shortly after my daughter was born.

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

I was extremely fortunate to have parents who supported me financially when I took action to leave my ex-husband. They helped me to escape by getting me a plane ticket to return home to Germany so I could begin the long process of rebuilding my life.

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

21 years after escaping the abuse, I am still in the healing process. My healing actually began taking place while I was still in my abusive marriage - I had met someone else who showed me love. He cared about me and my daughter and he helped me see that I was not worthless.

One way in which I am rebuilding myself and my life is by helping other victims. I have now been a loud and outspoken advocate against violence against women for many years. Currently, I serve on the Board of Directors for anti-Violence Against Women organisations in my area such as Turning Point and Safe Alliance. I also use Art everyday to support other victims and to continue to heal myself.

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

You are not alone. Don’t give up hope. Stay strong. Have a safety plan. Know where to get help. There will be people there to support you when you are ready to leave.

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

We need to get ‘in front’ of the issue and I believe that education is the key to ending VAW. We need to teach children and young people what healthy relationships look like, and we need to start teaching them about this as early as middle school. We also need to teach parents and adult individuals to recognise the signs and to know how to take action to stop the violence.

We also need support from the ‘top down’ and this includes funding from major sponsors for awareness campaigns. Finally, we need to educate corporations about VAW and to get them to ensure that they have policies in place to support and protect victims and survivors.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I like The Pixel Project’s approach of taking the cause online through social media  because conversations about VAW need to happen and these conversations need to evolve along with technology. By using the Internet and social media, The Pixel Project’s campaigns are accessible for women, men and kids around the globe. How cool would it be if my story could encourage a woman on the other side of the world to get out of an abusive relationship?

I also support The Pixel Project’s belief that VAW is not a women’s issue, and that any conversation about VAW needs to include men and boys. Both boys and girls need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and they may not get that at home. So we need to pull them out of the cycle and be the Village that teaches them about this. In addition, through their Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, The Pixel Project has recognised that we need non-violent male celebrities to support the cause and model positive male behaviour because many boys look up to their favourite entertainers and athletes and are influenced by them.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Mallory Babika, 27, 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 fourteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Mallory Babika from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

My name is Mallory Babika and I am 27 year old survivor of domestic violence. I was involved in an abusive relationship from age 21 to age 24. I was born and raised in a small town in Northeast, Ohio. I currently volunteer as an awareness advocate and public speaker for local domestic violence shelters. Thanks to the Tina Project, I am able to travel to area high schools to speak about teen dating violence and healthy relationships. I truly believe in taking a negative situation and turning it into something positive to help others. I no longer see my past as a flaw, but as something that I have both learned and grown from. 

Mallory Babika1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I experienced domestic violence in all of its forms: mental, physical, emotional, financial, and sexual.

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

It took a long time for me to realise that I deserved a lot better than what I was getting. With the help of an amazing support system consisting of friends and family, and researching the signs of an abusive relationship, I was able to gain the strength I needed to get out. I realised that I deserved someone who was nice to me all of the time, not just when they were afraid of losing me. I deserved a loving relationship like the examples set for me by my family members.

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

I chose to volunteer as an awareness advocate by speaking to students and communities about my experience in an abusive relationship. I show a video that I made that depicts my personal experience with an abusive relationship from the beginning; with narration taken directly from my journal. This video is intended to help open the eyes of those that have chosen to either overlook domestic violence, or have chosen to criticise victims instead of helping them. In addition, for the second year in a row, I painted my town purple with a Domestic Violence Awareness event to raise money for a local shelter. By allowing so many people to see the hardest time of my life, I can only hope that they will begin to break the silence and that other victims will find the strength to leave.

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

Many have asked me why I have chosen to speak out, and to go so public with my story. To put it simply: it is so that others know that they can heal. That they should not be ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to come forward. Domestic violence is an equal opportunity crime. It can happen to anyone, it does not make you weak, or damaged or broken. Whenever someone has to tear you apart to build themselves back up – that’s called ignorance and insecurity. It is a vicious cycle and only you can tell yourself when you are ready to break it. And believe me the freedom you feel after you shed that final tear is a feeling that cannot be described in words, one that only survivors can relate to. When you decide to leave you will see that you have grown, strengthened and matured with a compassion you didn’t have before. When you go through something like that you can’t help but recognise the power of words and how imperative it is to be kind yet firm with ours. It’s easier said than done but whenever you gets the urge to let his thoughts creep into your head, or if you feel “small” because you think someone’s judging … remember that you have VALUE, a PURPOSE and you are so much stronger than you probably give yourself credit for. You CAN decide who you’ll allow into your life and it’s important that we surround ourselves with good-hearted, thoughtful, strong, honest people. There is hope, he is not her world, he does not own her and life after him is better than it is with him.

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

We can help end violence against women by breaking the silence. By showing both victims and abusers that there is no place for violence in our communities, we are setting an example and a standard for the treatment of others. By just one survivor coming forward, we are showing other victims that they do not need to feel ashamed and that they can get help. If abusers see that witnesses, and bystanders are coming forward, and that victims are filing reports, they will be less likely to commit the crimes. Most importantly, we need to work on prevention. By being in our schools, and speaking to our future generations about respect, and healthy relationships, we are helping to create futures without violence.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it is a great way to spread awareness throughout the world given how dependent we are on technology today. I love that it is completely virtual and volunteer-led. This issue is an equal opportunity crime, and The Pixel Project helps prove that there are no cultural or social barriers. The campaigns are well thought out, and reach out to every demographic on such an important issue and I can’t think of a better way to spread awareness across the globe.