THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Karen Caroll, 58, USA

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

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

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

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

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Survivor Bio:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

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