Archive for May, 2014

The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” Interview – Darius Lux

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 seventh featured artiste is singer-songwriter Darius Lux, who specialises in soulful, positive music. Darius’ career began in NYC placing songs in Film, MTV & Billboard before being drawn to California’s sunny shores where he’s been touring the West Coast promoting his 3 albums as a soloist & with his band. Darius’ music describes how we can take control of our lives. “For each one of us, life can be full of different fears, but we have to remember that fear is a choice. When we decide we don’t want fear and we have chosen to believe in ourselves instead, we find that we begin to receive the things in life we’ve hoped for.” You can follow Darius’s updates on Facebook, or watch his videos on YouTube

Darius contributed his song, “Xtraordinary” 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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Darius LuxTell us about yourself and why you decided to take part in The Pixel Projects 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days project.

I am a singer-songwriter who specializes in positive and uplifting pop music. When I heard of the campaign and saw the inventiveness and passionate commitment by those involved, I knew I wanted to be a part of this – a movement bringing awareness while also supporting those who have already suffered.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

I have felt for a long time that much of global society and fairly recent history tends to be biased against women in general and this is ever incredulous to me. We’re talking about the prime source of human life on our planet here – for there to then be violence institutionalised and accepted at any level against women is something that needs to be stopped already.

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

I think music is a great vehicle to bring awareness to many causes. In this particular case, I know the team handpicked each of the songs based on alignment with the cause along with messages of empowerment and empathy that would resonate with those really needing this movement – so music is helping generally and specifically.

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

There are many ways that artists can be creative with music and a cause like ending violence against women. A specific song could be written about it and/or a release or show or tour could be dedicated to bringing more awareness and/or funding.

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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: Jessica Link, 29, 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 thirteenth Survivor Stories interview is with Jessica Link from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Jessica Q. Link is the Administrative Assistant for The Mary Byron Project (a non-profit organisation fostering innovations and strategies to end domestic violence) which was established in 2000 in memory of the young woman whose tragic murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies, known as VINE. It gives Jessica strength and hope working for an organisation that dedicates itself to finding ways to save lives.She lives in the Kentuckiana area with her 2 year old daughter. Jessica has shared her story in anonymous groups and a protective parenting class and hopes to continue to share her experience in the future (gaining more strength and hope each time she shares and hears that someone else can relate). In her down time, she enjoys writing poetry and has even had a poem published. She loves to spend time on her family’s boat or at a park with her daughter.

Jessica Link1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was a victim of domestic violence. Physically, I was strangled, beaten, punched, kicked, thrown, pinned down, and much more. Mentally, I was manipulated and brainwashed slowly over time. Emotionally, I was belittled and put down, but then built back up to make it seem like he loved me. He played tricks with my mind and then if I didn’t do something right or he was mad or in a mood, I would get hit. He would threaten and intimidate me. He would use our daughter as an excuse to come back or get things from me or out of me. He was a user and an abuser. He would know how to say and do things to get exactly what he wanted. He knew how to be nice and seem caring and treat me ok, but then he was more familiar with how to hurt me. He took complete advantage of me until he was in total control.  He not only had an anger problem, but he also had a drug and alcohol problem that just intensified his actions.

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

It was on the day that he last put his hands on me. He punched me in the face so many times I had a broken nose and stitches under my eye. The police were called and he went to jail while I went to the hospital. I immediately notified my parents who kept my daughter for a while so that I could seek some psychological treatment. CPS got involved to insure that I would never go back to him. I already had a DVO, but since this assault took place in another county, I went to the courthouse in my home county (where the DVO was in place) and filed a Motion Contempt of Court for the violation. I made all court appearances and stuck with everything I needed to do to keep him away from us. I also packed up all of his belongings and took them to his friend’s house. He was in jail for 7 months, but I made sure he would have no reason to contact me when he got out.

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

Initially, I broke down and was so hurt, ashamed, embarrassed and upset. I immediately received treatment for Depression, Anxiety and Post-Concussion Syndrome. I saw and continue to see a psychologist regularly and talk about everything which helps me get rid of the guilt and shame I carried from the relationship. I spoke to my parents and friends about it.  It took a few months before I finally started feeling free, but the more I share and open up about it, the better I feel. My neighbours are aware of the situation, I changed my daughter’s day-care and made them aware of the situation, I got an alarm activated at home and I carry pepper spray, along with keeping some at home. I stay focused on my daughter my job. Once I got my current position with the organisation that strategises to end domestic violence, it made me even stronger. There are still things in my life that trigger fear, but it does not control me anymore! I continue to see a therapist and work every day to help raise awareness of domestic violence through my job and my personal life.

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

We cannot change people. We can’t want for people what they don’t want for themselves. If you know you are in a bad situation or suspect you might be, follow your intuition (it is a natural gift that too many of us, including me, become good at ignoring). If you want to get out, but are not sure how or feel ashamed, embarrassed or scared, please reach out. There are so many organisations, numbers and people willing and able to help. You can only get help if you ask for it. Please do not make the same mistake I did in waiting too long. I honestly believe I am lucky to be alive today. If you have children, please be aware that they know what is going on. Children see more than we realise and they feel what we feel. I wanted to be a family and thought I was doing a good thing by staying with my abuser, but I was actually not only hurting myself, but my child. Also please remember that love is respect. If someone loves you (I mean really and truly cares about you), they will respect you!

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

We have to speak up! The only way to end violence against women is by making people aware and sharing experience, strength and hope. If you see it, say something. If you experience it, share about it. If you suspect it, ask questions. If you don’t know about it or are curious about it, research it. We also have to lead by example. If we teach and show people respect, others will show it as well. We have to remember that actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, we have to talk about it AND be about it.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it is an organisation that raises awareness of violence against women virtually. The internet and social media use is growing larger and larger and I think it is a wonderful, if not the best, way to reach people. The Pixel Project brings global awareness through amazing campaigns and it is through informing people that we can end violence against women. I also appreciate that they collect survivor stories to not only raise awareness, but give other victims hope and strength that they are not alone and that they can survive as well.

CAMPAIGN INTERVIEW: Guy Gavriel Kay

The Pixel Project and Guy Gavriel Kay, award-winning bestselling author of The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy and Sarantium diptych, are proud to jointly present the Double Drabble Pixel Fundraiser in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to raise US$1 million in aid of The Pixel Project and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Double Drabble Pixel Fundraiser runs from 1 May – 14 May 2014. Donors who donate US$50 will have a choice of one of the Drabbles and donors who donate US$75 will receive both Drabbles. Supporters are happily urged to acquire both Drabbles at the discounted donation level and they can make their donations online via the Pixel Reveal campaign donation page or the Razoo donation page for the campaign.

Mr Kay took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about why he supports The Pixel Project and the importance of stopping violence against women.

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1. Why is ending violence against women important to you and why did you decide to take action about it by supporting The Pixel Project?

I have long believed that one of the true measures of any society or culture is how it recognises and benefits from the status of women. Violence is utterly antithetical to that. This campaign is a natural fit for my lifelong views on the subject.

2. You have very generously written two exclusive Drabbles (100-word stories) for the Double Drabble Pixel Reveal Fundraiser in support of The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign. What do you think authors can do to help stop violence against women?

Authors – male or female – are people first. We have no ‘special’ status, only a shared responsibility to our world, and to the next generation. Those of us with some level, however modest, of name recognition and people who respect our work and thought, can use that good fortune to share our views and invite readers to support the causes that matter to us.

3. As a father and a prominent author, what do you think men can do to help stop violence against women?

Education, enlightenment, awareness, respect. Part of parenting is the attempt to instill important values in our children. The notion that violence against women, worldwide, and in our own communities, is unacceptable is one of the things we need to convey. Person by person, generation by generation, we can change the way people think and act.

Credits: Author’s portrait by Samantha Kidd Photography.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell, 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 twelfth Survivor Stories interview is with Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell has been working to end violence against women for over 20 years. She is the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Programme Manager for the Women’s Center for Advancement in Omaha, Nebraska and oversees the programming and staffing of the three-agency 24-hour crisis lines. She has an extensive trauma history including rape, domestic abuse, child sexual abuse and sex trafficking. As a former cutter and now coping with PTSD and Anxiety, Sakura works with survivors of trauma in finding positive ways to cope and speaking about the trauma.

She is currently pursuing a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies as well as her certification for Intentional Peer Support work. She is on the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s Mental Health Advisory Committee and is a member of the Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime. Sakura received recent recognition for outstanding advocacy service as the Keynote Speaker for the 4th Judicial District in Iowa’s Crime Victims Rights Week luncheon. She was also a Hometown Hero Nominee from the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association in 2013 and a Purple Ribbon Award from the Domestic Violence Council in 2008. 

Sakura Yodogawa-Campbell1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

My personal experience is quite extensive. I was first sexually abused around age 6 or 7 and then from there I was first raped at age 11 and began cutting myself. I hated myself and my body and that transferred over to abusive relationships in high school and college. I was raped once in high school and the first weekend in college. As a result, I turned to drugs and alcohol to escape. I can honestly say during those years I was raped no less than 100 times. From 2000-2002 I was in my most physical and sexual violent relationship where the sex trafficking occurred, as well as strangulation.

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

It was music, the support of friends and family and finally, and the will to survive that got me out of what I call “the fog”. It took a final act of strangulation for me to wake up and realise that I wasn’t ready to die. My mom was able to help me and I haven’t looked back since.

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

Most importantly, I learned to love me. As I tell everyone I have been advocating for women over 20 years but for myself about 8. It really did take me being comfortable with my body and who I am to open up to a healthy relationship, which I have with my partner of 6 years. I also work as an Advocate for victims of violence against women so every day, I am doing for others what was done for me. My experience has given me the energy to survive, thrive and fight. Every day is a new day and I have worked hard to focus on the forward and live in the now versus letting my past lead. I still have PTSD and anxiety issues as a result but I cope with those and am not ashamed of it.

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

First we have to stop blaming ourselves. We have to start loving ourselves. We have to continue to reach out to others and not be ashamed or afraid to tell our stories. Once we OWN it (our experience) it no longer defines us or limits us. By speaking out, we are taking the power on and the person or persons who did this, no longer have that assumed power. There is power in numbers and there are more of us than there are of them (perpetrator’s).

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

We can end violence against women by being educated. Know that it is real and around us everywhere. We need to educate our children and communities. Prevention is KEY. As survivors, we  need to speak out. Remaining silent and hiding it only keeps it alive. If we speak out, we take that power from those who did the crime. The more we speak out, the more people will have to listen.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project’s Survivor Story Blog Interview Project is an amazing way to reach people and have survivor’s voices heard because The Pixel Project uses social media and all things techie in the 21st Century to wake people up to what is really happening! I am grateful for this opportunity!

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Tracy Grinstead-Everly, 44, 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 eleventh Survivor Stories interview is with Tracy Grinstead-Everly from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first 2 segments of this interview may be triggering for some survivors of rape.

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The Survivor Bio:

Tracy Grinstead-Everly is a survivor of teen dating violence, which included physical assault, sexual assault, and stalking.  She has worked to end violence against women for over 23 years, starting as a community activist and hotline advocate.  She received her law degree in 1995 and spent years representing victims of family violence to help them achieve safety and self-sufficiency.  She currently works as a public policy manager, developing and training on laws which maximise victim safety and offender accountability.  She has published several articles and developed best practices on family violence, with particular focuses on protective orders and firearms.

Tracy Grinstead-Everly.Pixel Project.Photo 11. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

Before I began dating, I had no concept of healthy relationships.   I was raised to think that any man was better than no man at all.  I entered by first serious relationship as a senior in high school.  My boyfriend almost immediately became jealous of any time I spent with anyone other than him.  To avoid conflict, I soon became isolated from my friends.   The relationship progressed to emotional abuse, but I was convinced that I was lucky to have him.   On the night of a major high school event he raped me.  I did not know what to expect, so I did not know the emotional and physical pain I felt was not normal.  I did not know to use that word.  The subsequent times we had sex were often against my will.  I ended up with frequent bruises on my hips and a torn labia.  My blood and tears were always met with apologies.   He told me he couldn’t help himself.  He told me I was beautiful.  He told me that he loved me.  I believed him.

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

As my high school graduation approached, I contemplated the idea that I would be away from him.  At first the very thought frightened me, but I began to think about how the distance would affect me.  I decided that a woman who could negotiate her own scholarship to college, who decided to be brave enough to go where she knew no one, could maybe live on her own.  I broke off the relationship.  The abuse became physical and in public.  My friends who did not believe me about the abuse saw it with their own eyes.  My attempt to seek a protection order failed.  I left for college, and he stalked me my entire freshman year.  I refused to take his phone calls, slept somewhere else when he came to find me.  I learned that I was resourceful and strong.   I lived without him, and was the better for it.

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

After I finally escaped my abusive ex-boyfriend, I obtained counselling.  As my therapy progressed, I said the words out loud.  I had been raped.  I had been beaten.  I had been stalked.  I sought a higher power.  I had been taught that God punishes the wicked and makes bad things happen to bad people.   I could not figure out what I had done that was so bad as to have deserved what I had survived.  I spoke with religious leaders of all faiths, attended various houses of worship, read and studied and tried to find an answer.  One evening I drove 30 miles to attend services at a Reform Jewish Temple.  The rabbi’s sermon was essentially this:  “This week’s Torah portion is the Ten Commandments.  What can I say that has not already been said?   Of all of the Commandments, I say there are three that above all else we must follow:   Take no other Gods before me.  Do not murder. And do not rape.  These are things that can never be taken back, that break the very soul.”  As I said “Amen,” I knew that I had found my place in the world, and have practiced Judaism ever since.

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

Believe in yourself.  Even if what you think in your heart defies everything you have been taught, trust yourself.  Do not give in to negative messages you receive from family, friends, society and those who claim they love you but hurt you nonetheless.  Once you think about leaving, know that there is hope.  There are people who want to help you, you just haven’t met them yet.  If you return to your abuser, do not feel guilty or like you failed.  You know your situation better than anyone else.  Do what you need to do to stay safe and know that you can always reach out again. Know that you deserve to be happy and healthy and safe.  Once you finally escape – and I know you can – seek out others.  Trust that you are not alone.  We believe you and we believe in you.  Others have made it and so can you.  You are stronger than you know.

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

Our best hope for the future is to acknowledge and learn from not only the past, but the present.  If we do not recognise and name the problem, it will continue to grow, silently and fatally.  Our society protects institutional violence against women.  We need to demand that victims be supported in their efforts to be safe and that offenders be held accountable.  Our culture must be revamped, through a change of attitudes and beliefs of society and individuals.  Yet, it is not enough to blame the system without offering ideas of change.  We must look to our society’s leaders– from parents to politicians – to demonstrate zero tolerance of how women are mistreated and to serve as role models through their public and private actions.  People must be taught that respecting women is an outward reflection of respecting themselves.  It is never too early or too late to learn and change.   Public awareness and cultural conviction to end violence against women must be instilled at all ages and aspects of society.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

It is critical to give a name and voice to individual survivors of domestic violence, rape and other crimes against women.   The staggering numbers of victims can be overwhelming or seem exaggerated, and be too easily dismissed.  I support The Pixel Project because they run projects and initiatives like the Survivor Story Blog Interview Project that shows that every statistic is built on a real woman with a unique story.  I think it is long overdue for victims of these crimes to be given a forum in which to share their experiences.   It is more than educational, it is empowering.

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Terry Lingrey, 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 tenth Survivor Stories interview is with Terry Lingrey from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Terry Lingrey is the survivor of multiple rapes, including child, date, gang, and marital rapes, as well as domestic violence and stalking.  She speaks to various audiences, including as keynote speaker at the University of Idaho’s Take Back the Night in 2013. She participates in the University of Idaho Violence Prevention Program’s Interpersonal Violence Speakers’ Bureau. She graduated from Reed College, and earned an MFA from University of Idaho, where she teaches writing. Her message is overwhelmingly one of hope, the capacity for healing, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Terry Lingrey 11. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am the survivor of multiple rapes, including child rape, date rape, gang rape, and marital rape followed by stalking which resulted in another rape after the relationship had ended. Many of the rapes were sadistic, including imprisonment and the application of torture with knives and guns. How can I categorize that? All rape is brutal, but those techniques seem especially difficult to understand and to label. Now I am a writer and activist who will speak to any audience that will have me, including Speakers’ Bureaus, activist events, advocate training, and community groups with an interest in understanding the consequences of rape and sexual assault for survivors.

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

Most of the rapes were single attacks that ended when the rapist(s) finished raping me. I never saw the child rapists again, nor the date rapist, but I saw the gang rapists because they were members of my community of athletes in high school.

I escaped the marital rape when I convinced my husband to allow me to leave Germany so I could attend a training program in England. After completing the program, I moved to southern California where I divorced my husband. A few years later, he found me in northern California and raped me again. I have not seen him since. I have not escaped him, he is still free and alive, and I live with the memories. He and the other rapists live in every cell, every blood vessel, every nerve ending, every synapse firing, every breath. I will not escape them, but I will not be defined by them either.

More importantly, they did not take the part of me that matters, the essential core of my own humanity, the part that loves and feels deeply and that acts for the many survivors and victims who did not survive or are learning how. That part is intact and always was. If any part of me has escaped the rapists, it is that part.

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

First and foremost, I moved my body through dance, rode horses, and walked until I could gain enough strength to work out. Solitude, withdrawal, long weeks of isolation, all were essential to claiming a new sense of self. I had two therapists, one female, one male. I saw them for close to ten years. I learned to listen to my intuitions, to trust my creativity, to speak for myself (I had a severe stutter for most of my life), and to trust the memories. I recovered most of the traumatic memories during that time, and worked with them in art, words, and journal writing. I worked with horses as a trainer, and massage therapist. Massage kept me close to instinctual processes. I regularly encounter the sites of the rapes, either actual, or in substitutes. I have recovered my athletic ability, and I have reclaimed one of the actual rape sites by visiting it and then walking out intact. I have a couple more to go. I write in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I hope to start a blog about recovery. Writing is profoundly healing, because I gather what I was before rape and incorporate the shards that lay all around me after rape. I create meaning from what seems unspeakable. I speak it all. In achieving a successful life in spite of rape, I live as fully as I can and I remember to love, and I help others not to forget their inherent worth. That’s a good life, with rape or without it.

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

Do not forget the parts they did not touch. Think of the things you loved before, and turn to them again. For me those were horses, nature, words, language, art, movement in my body. Those are key parts of my recovery and they are the things I still love. Find a community of friends but let them pass away from you if they are not helping. Look for a good therapist who can hear everything and not necessarily ply you with drugs. Say everything. Don’t be afraid to be sad and angry and depressed and anxious and sad again and let the tears flow. Your emotions are links to the inner parts that have been terribly wounded and why shouldn’t you cry for them? When you want to turn from yourself remember that you can’t and that’s just how it is. Listen to the people who say you can love even this, even this pain, this suffering, this memory. If anyone wants you to get on with your life already, remember that they are scared for themselves and may not be the best people to hang out with right now. Don’t forget there are many long term survivors with successful, happy, fulfilling, exciting, non-dissociative lives, and you can be one of them. Remember who you were before anyone did anything harmful to you. You were already perfect from the moment you were born and you didn’t deserve any of this. You deserve to exist and there are people who will celebrate that with you. The rapists were lying and all the shame is theirs. You’ll feel it because they forced you to, but you are already better than them. You’ll only get better.

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

Girls have to be taught to say no to parents, friends, circumstances, ideologies, and to be aware that when they say no they are also saying yes and to know the difference. Parents have to be held accountable for behaviours that are misogynistic. All systems of power, no matter how apparently altruistic have to be held accountable. The moment a child is harmed, violence becomes a reality in his or her life, and that is a social problem and has to be considered as an anomaly. Violence against women has to be seen as a crack in the facade of our society. We are the story tellers on the outer fringes and we must be able to have our stories heard. The legal system has to acknowledge its terrible track record in protecting women and prosecuting their attackers. Police who will not investigate should be prosecuted. Lawyers and judges have to be educated about what survivors need even if they feel helpless. Boys have to be raised as feminists in the truest sense, as lovers of women and girls.

5. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support any organisation that actively seeks to end what has severely limited my freedoms and the freedoms of so many other women. I am lucky. In spite of the consequences, I live an enjoyable, relatively functional, and free life, but I know I did nothing to create that luck. Many others just like me have died terribly, in fear, or have lost the ability to function in the pursuit of their own happiness. I want to do all I can to assist in the effort to see that not one more woman of any age or circumstances has to endure what I did. I will be the face of rape, and if you place my face on your website, I am able to reach so many more than I ever could alone. The community of survivors and allies needs your efforts, and I bow to you in deepest, most profound gratitude.

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Jaycee Memminger, 51, 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 ninth Survivor Stories interview is with Jaycee Memminger 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:

Jaycee Memminger is Women’s Services Coordinator at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit; with more than 20 years experience in Domestic Violence. Jaycee designs Employment and Training Services for women who have experienced trauma. Founder/CEO of Angelic Impact, a Non-profit organisation serving the City of Detroit; Jaycee speaks locally and nationally on critical topics related to Domestic Violence and recovering after violence. In 2012 Jaycee was an honored Speaker at the 13th Annual Department of Justice- Office on Violence against Women Luncheon in Washington D.C.; shortly after Jaycee founded SmartGirl; a nonprofit organisation working with teen girls in Wayne County focusing on academics, abstinence, healthy relationships and the power of self-enrichment. Currently working on a Master’s Degree in Project Management and Women’s Studies; Jaycee holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, is a member of the National Technical Honors Society and Lambda Alpha Epsilon- Criminal Justice Association.

0061. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

In 2002, I filed for divorce from my husband after a brief marriage. My husband warned me several times if the ink dried on the divorce papers, his life was over and so was mine. I begged and pleaded with the judge to help me to no avail. My ex-husband Leonard Memminger was a Probation Officer with Wayne County Courts, he often advised that no one could help me even though I had a 3-year personal protection order in place. Lenny violated the court order 13 times and was arrested and sanctioned, however, never jailed. In September 2004 just weeks after the divorce was final, I was brutally attacked and shot twice in the face by my ex-husband, he accosted me in the doorway of my home and struck me, knocking me to the floor. Lenny had a gun, tape, rope and a knife. I was terrified. I tried to escape by running in the parking lot and was captured and shot twice in the face with a 38 revolver. That night I was air-lifted to the University of Michigan where I spent 8 agonising months in a hospital bed, fighting to live.

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

Unfortunately I was severely injured when I tried to leave the relationship. I knew this was the most violent and dangerous time however I also knew I deserved to be happy and feel loved. I sat down with my grown children and had a conversation no mother should ever have. I told them I was in danger, and if anything ever happened to me, I wanted them to always feel my love. Then for the first time I began talking about what Lenny was doing to me. I talked to everyone…. friends, family, co-workers, judges and domestic violence advocates. No longer was I ashamed because I had done nothing wrong.

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

After healing physically I still did not want to admit what traumatic events had taken place in my life. I tried to act as if everything was fine, particularly since Lenny was now in prison. I was in so much pain and agony. I entered into counselling finally facing my life and where I was in terms of mental, emotional and physical pain. Today I continue to seek assistance in this area, its a daily process after experiencing trauma. I surround myself with support groups and women like me, rebuilding and struggling to find happiness. Today I know I deserve it.

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

Never feel you are alone. Know there are others facing similar if not identical situations such as yours. Seek assistance from shelters and programs with professionals who can help you navigate the process of determining what steps you should take to be free while remaining safe.

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

Violence against women will only end when communities get involved in the movement. When we have a shift in cultural and societal beliefs and young girls and boys see only the healthy characteristics of a relationship. New policies and legislation should be passed to keep women safe, not just in October, but safe all year round.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it is an organisation with platforms that are designed to be used to inform communities about violence against women while also providing a platform and voice for advocates and victims. This is desperately needed if we are ever going to have a world where women and children are safe.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Kristin Brumm, 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 eighth Survivor Stories interview is with Kristin Brumm from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Kristin Brumm is a writer and non-profit executive living in Kansas with her two children. Her blog Wanderlust was voted into the Circle of Mom’s top 10 Most Inspiring Blogs as a result of her honest and poignant writings about her experiences with domestic violence. She was a Voice of the Year and Keynote Speaker at the 2011 Australian Bloggers Conference, and her essays have been published in several anthologies. She created the “Healing Through Storytelling” blog directory as a means of support for people who have experienced emotional or physical trauma. 

Kristin Brumm1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

When I was nine, I was sexually molested by our gardener. This happened over the course of a summer. It ended when my brother witnessed one of the assaults and told my parents. He was arrested and convicted.

More recently, I was assaulted by my ex-husband as we were negotiating a divorce. He chased me into the bathroom and pounded several holes in the door as I called the police. Two weeks later, I discovered he was under investigation for possession and possible production of child pornography. I was absolutely gutted.

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

I knew that leaving my marriage would be difficult and potentially dangerous, but I wanted my children to be raised in a healthy and safe home. Not only was I physically afraid of my husband, but he was a man of means and used his resources to wage an exhausting legal battle for custody.

The fact that my ex-husband was charged with possession of child pornography both helped and hindered our safety. His imprisonment means that I am physically safe. However, it took three years for his case to wind through the courts and during that time I was very frightened for our safety. I was fortunate in that I had a network of friends and even strangers that offered us safe housing until he was convicted.

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

I write a blog and when I was first assaulted, I made the difficult decision to speak openly about my experiences with violence. The response was phenomenal. Women and men from all over the world wrote to offer their support and friendship. They reminded me daily that I was strong, brave and compassionate, which was a balm after years of psychological abuse. They were a hundred sets of hands holding a net to catch my fall.

The other thing I did was to explore some of the new brain-based therapies, such as EMDR and EFT, which studies have shown to offer fast and lasting healing, especially with symptoms of PTSD. I found them to be effective and hugely beneficial in helping me move beyond the trauma and reclaim my confidence and joy of life. I am intrigued by the inherent power of our brains, bodies and emotions to recover and heal from even significant trauma.

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

I think first and foremost we need to listen to our instincts. Our intuition is our guardian and we need to respect and honour that deep wisdom.

Secondly, I think expression can be healing. While it may not always be safe to speak out publicly, as I did, we can still do so privately. When we tell our stories, we get to craft a unique narrative about our experiences and imbue it with our own meaning. In so doing, we take back the reins. Storytelling is empowering and tremendously healing, not only for ourselves, but for those who read and connect with our stories.

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

When we share our personal stories, it provides a vehicle through which others can empathise with us. If I share my story with you, perhaps you will see that we are not all that different. We both feel fear and grief and joy, and we both love our children with abandon. It bridges the gap between “us” and “them”. When we share our stories about violence, then victims of violence cease to become a faceless demographic that others can objectify and distance themselves from. Instead, the faces of violence become personal and intimate, which in turn raises understanding and compassion.

7. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I think technology and social media are powerful tools for driving dialogue and awareness. We are in the unique position today of being able to instantly connect with people from a variety of backgrounds from all over the world. The Pixel Project capitalises on this power by using it to creatively disseminate ideas and raise awareness. I love the thought that I can participate in the same project as someone on the other side of the world and that, despite being strangers, we can be united in our shared experience.

I also like that The Pixel Project does not point to men as the problem, but rather embraces them as part of the solution. In the end, what matters is that we are all able to better understand and extend compassion to each other. Blaming and ostracism won’t heal our world. Only love will heal our world.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Raeanne Furfaro, 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 seventh Survivor Stories interview is with Raeanne Furfaro from the U.S.A.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a successful business woman with a great sense of humour and talent now. I have learned to not be afraid of whom I am, but to embrace who I have become. I live in Alaska where the violence against women is the most prevalent in the USA, where help is often a 300-mile trek in total blackness to get help, where you may have no place to go. I live in the city, but the women in the villages need me. I feel useful here. I love the state, the beauty, the wild. I am happy. 

Raeanne Furfaro1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was a victim of domestic violence. It did not begin until about 3 years into the relationship, when it became common for beatings at least 4 times a week and verbal assault several times per day. I felt useless and afraid and unlovable. I felt I deserved each beating. I didn’t do the dishes right, I was worthless. After many years of hearing and living like this, it is like being brainwashed, I believed it : “You do this because you love me. I believed that for a long time. I had to learn. You isolated me from my sisters, from my friends.”

Imagine cowering in a corner, hands in front of your face, so he can’t kick you there, begging for it to stop, crying and screaming you’d be better: “Please, please stop kicking me. Stop throwing things at me, stop slapping me, stop holding my children hostage. Please stop. I’ll do anything, just stop.”

Even holding a gun to my face did not wake me up. Not until we moved to Idaho.

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

The final straw the night my house burned down. My husband had been drinking the night before, came home, smoking a cigarette, passed out and the cigarette smouldered in the cushions of the chair overnight.

When I thought he would kill me, I went to my friend’s house, we called the sheriff. My husband spent the night in jail. That was the beginning of taking my power back. I took advantage of the chaos, A couple of weeks later said I was going shopping and I never came home. I called from Boise and said I was leaving. I told everyone I was going to New York, I went to Washington. Yet I went back to him 8 months later and immediately got pregnant with my daughter.

When the abuse started again, I gathered my kids, got in the car and I drove toward Idaho with about.10 cents in my pocket. I ran out of gas, nothing to feed my children, crying at a gas station, ready to go home, defeated. I met a stranger, then another and another. They gave me gas and food.  Thank you, strangers, I wish I could remember your names. You saved my life.

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

At first I felt I had to validate myself through sexual relations to feel likable and desirable.

My friend gave me a career in her travel agency. I worked for free for a year, but I loved it. People were nice to me, I started to feel like I could do this. I was ok.

Then a young lady who was about 15 years old needed a place to live, I took her in and she gave me a lot of insight. Now it was my indignation at her being treated badly by her family. I started to really feel useful, loved, needed and respected. I continued to work 2-3 jobs while she helped me look after the kids. It was a growing time for both of us. We each learned love and how to have a life. I got my life back by giving to others.

It was a long journey of self-discovery that lasted about 8 years. Forcing myself to be alone with my own company, learning to like me for who I was. Finding my personality for the first time. Then loving that person I had become or perhaps always been and had buried.

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

Don’t be afraid. I know that is easy to say. I’ve been where you are. Tell someone. Anyone. I didn’t and if I had, I think it would have ended so much sooner. I didn’t know there was help out there. There is so much help. It is hard, it is not an easy journey, but in the end, it is so worth it. For your safety, your sanity and your very life. Tell someone and get the help. They will help you find the path to recovery. Then learn to like yourself, who you are, without shame. Then you will love yourself and be able to move on and have a happier life. What you choose to do with it is up to you, but do it. Don’t allow the violence to continue in front of your children. It is what they will learn. Be braver than ever thought you could and tell someone and find the help.

Remember this if you remember nothing else. Nobody treats people they love with violence. That is not love.

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

Education is the key. Teach your sons that violence is not acceptable. Teach your daughters that it is never ok to be used in any way that is violent. If you are overridden by an ex-spouse that abused you, remove the children from that influence.

Keep the conversation going. The more we talk, the more we’re heard. People will soon see what an epidemic this is. Formerly a silent one, now is the time to be outspoken, tell others of your experience if you can. This is my first time in 28 years of being able to tell my story. I did not think I had it in me. Don’t compare your abuse or violence with anyone else’s.

If you see a violent act, step in and say something. Call someone, do something to stop it. Do it safely, with no harm to anyone. Even if it is simply a matter of calling the police and taking a license plate number. Don’t be afraid to step up. Maybe you will be that stranger one day for someone else.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I believe in The Pixel Project’s mission of stopping violence together with men. It took me a good long while to get that concept, but many men are products of violent families. I believe in The Pixel Project’s belief that we can stop violence and if I can do just one thing in my life, this is what I will do. I believe that The Pixel Project is saving at least one life every single day. I believe I am saving a life every day. Because I keep the conversation going. I repost, retweet, repeat that violence is never the answer. I also support the fact that the funds raised go to their anti-VAW campaigns and programmes. I love that The Pixel Project gives us the support we need emotionally and with information we need to keep doing what we do to save more women from the agony of a lifetime of violence.

The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” Interview – Bob Sima

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 sixth featured artiste is Bob Sima (pronounced sEYE-ma). Bob’s music begins as a conversation with the Source that lives within each one of us. Bob’s gift is not simply singing to his audience, it is connecting to his audience. His lyrics are inspired by his personal journey of awareness, growth, and transformation. His delivery is humble, palpable, and universally accepted. He is able to capture, in song, what Eckhart Tolle captured through his writings and speeches. Bob’s music reminds us of the lessons, the reminders, the splendor, and experiences that are passed down from our ancient ancestors and master teachers. From his heart to yours, and your heart ours, allow the conversation to live on. You can follow Bob’s updates on Facebook, or watch his videos on YouTube.

Bob contributed his song, “Shine” 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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Bob SimaTell us about yourself and why you decided to take part in The Pixel Projects 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days project.

This is a great project! I loved the energy of all of who are a part of it, and it really drew me in to be part of something that has a great intention and great vibe and is truly a great value to humanity.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

I feel that all life is sacred and all life is equally important, and it is vital to connect at a sacred level with all life – men, women, children and all of earth’s beings. Women and the divine feminine have been suppressed for far too long in a masculine defined world, and this has to change in order for our planet to shift to a higher, more loving and compassionate place.

And specifically, violence against women is unconscionable to me on every level and so I stand with The Pixel Project in creating energy and awareness around ending this cycle by leading humanity to a place of higher consciousness.

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

Music empowers feelings, emotions and intentions that can lead to action. I consider my songs a soundtrack to transformation. The song for this project we chose is “Shine”, because this song speaks to the opening and flowering of consciousness and when we shine, we give others permission to shine as well. If a person comes from their centre, their light, then violence would never be an option and we can see a brighter and more peaceful place for all beings.

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

Start with the songs; they are the quickest vehicle to the heart. The heart is where changes and shifts happen in people. If you can create art that creates change, then you are on the right path!

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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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