SURVIVOR STORIES 2015: Kristen Paruginog, 25, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our second annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2015. The project runs throughout the month of May 2015 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 2015 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 sixth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Kristen Paruginog from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence survivors.

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The Survivor Bio:

Kristen Paruginog is a domestic violence survivor, speaker, advocate, social media guru, blogger, former national and local pageant titleholder, and international spokesperson for the non-profit organization, Break the Silence against Domestic Violence. Kristen has a passion for community service involvement and also enjoys entertaining audiences through the art of Polynesian dance. Beyond her advocacy work, she loves animals – especially her two pit bulls, Kiko and Tojo.

Kristen Paruginog_croppedcom1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

Over the course of our 3-year relationship, he bit me in the face, locked me in rooms, suffocated me with a pillow, restrained me, constantly called me names, demeaned me and used threats to control me. He forced me to have sex with him on many occasions, threw me to the ground on many occasions, pulled my hair, spit in my face, kidnapped me, and held me against my will.

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

The last incident which woke me up to break away happened on October 2, 2011. I was lying down on the bed and he bit my arm. I told him to stop, but he would not. It became red immediately, the next day it was bruised and swollen. Seeing my bruised arm made me realise that if I stayed my life would only continue spiraling out of control.

What helped me stay accountable and not go back was learning to love myself and telling my mom.

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

After finally leaving that destructive relationship, I realised I wasn’t alone and other men and women were suffering like I was. I was committed to bettering myself because I didn’t want to fall back into another horrendous relationship. I needed to learn how to love and respect myself again!

I began sharing my story which helped me gain my confidence back, and it gave me my purpose in life. When I share my story, I know at least one person will relate to it – by that one connection that person then learns they are not alone and that we can do this together. Attending conferences, retreats, trainings, and women empowerment groups with other survivors truly helped me.

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

I share my story with the world and am doing it for those who still live in fear and for our angels who have been taken from us because of acts of violence. If you are in an abusive relationship – believe me when I say, “THERE IS A WAY OUT!”

There are resources, there are phone numbers to call, there are programmes you can take advantage of to help you get back on your feet. And there is an organisation that will give you your happiness back – it’s called Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

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

I am a firm believer that we have the power as supporters and survivors of domestic violence to end domestic violence. If we are educated, empowered, and learn to respect one another we have the tools to lead us in the right direction. In order to combat domestic violence, we need men to stand up against violence alongside women and together we can end this epidemic.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because the organisation shines a global light on violence against women. In many countries worldwide, women are suffering at the hands of their abusers. The Pixel Project uses visuals and social media to captivate the world and draws people in to learn about the atrocities our world faces – this is what young people need. I stand with the Pixel Project because we are committed to ending the violence!