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 twenty-fifth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Amanda Berg from the U.S.A.
TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence survivors.
The Survivor Bio:
Amanda Berg is not only a full-time student working on her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, she has also gotten her four-year degree in criminal justice/client services. She has been telling her story going on 3 years and is also an on-call women’s advocate at her local women’s shelter. She is a wife, mom, Girl Scout leader, Boy Scout parent and looking forward for camping season to begin.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?
I got into a relationship with someone 6 years older than I was. He was very verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. I have had a hunting rifle pointed at my head and still, to this day, have two scars on my legs due to being cut by knives.
While in that relationship I ended up getting pregnant and having a child. When my child was born he suffered also. When he was a baby, his “dad” stated he locked him in the vehicle ‘properly’ and when I would go to get my child out of the vehicle he would roll out with the car seat and hit his head on the cement. I would get punished for that.
No matter what I did, it was never good enough. I would get “punished” for anything and everything behind closed doors. I remember hiding many bruises and telling myself that if I had done things differently I would have never gotten hurt. I would always try and apologise for everything and tell him that I would make it up to him – just tell me what I can do.
The night I left the relationship was the night he put a knife to my neck while I was nursing my son. I was able to get my son and myself to safety.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
The night I was able to escape I had two people that intervened: one of them called the police while I ran to hide and the other kept my abuser from running after me.
Once the officers arrived, they let me know that it was fine to come out and that I did not have to worry. My mom was on her way and things would get better. Once I did come out from hiding and my mom showed up and we were able to get things together.
The person that kept my abuser from running after me actually put him under citizen’s arrest. This was after my abuser tried pushing me, my son in my arms, and my mom down the stairs.
The responding officers also told me a day and time to go into the office and file an order for protection.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
It took some time for me to know that my abuser was no longer around before I finally slowly started to look at things in a positive way. I then moved to a different area because I wanted to start life over for not just myself but also my son. It was a wonderful first step.
While I was in that new area I met a wonderful man who started to support me in my decisions. I went on to college to get my four-year degree in criminal justice and client services. I currently speak to students in human relation classes and have spoken at a few other places.
I just got accepted for my social work degree and continue to have wonderful support. I found that taking little steps at a time have taken me a long way. It was never easy and I had many breakdowns along the way. My support system has helped me get where I am and I am more willing to share my story more and more.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
You are a very strong individual who can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Life is not easy at all and don’t be ashamed to speak up. Talk to those you can trust and be open and honest. I understand that it is very scary but resources are available and there are places that can help. Never feel as if it is your fault and if you had done things different things would be better.
There is also always a honeymoon phase. This means that if you leave and promises are made, things will change – if you are lucky – for a few weeks. After that things will go back to the same. It is never easy to just walk away and not turn back. It is even harder when children are involved. It is hard without a support system, and when you think you are going to lose everyone if you leave the relationship, it makes it even harder.
Remember that you don’t deserve to be treated like you are a worthless piece of property. You are a wonderful, beautiful, smart individual who can reach for the stars.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
I think there will always be problems when it comes to violence against women. People learn what is wrong or right while growing up and if they see that it is something that is generational it will be hard to break.
It is even harder considering some cultures feel that controlling their women is fine, that men need to be in control and the breadwinner. This is not true at all. Men do not need to control those that they love and care about. Women have a mind of their own and can speak up. They do have a voice. I think that as more people realised that abbuse is not right, then more may speak up.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I find that The Pixel Project is a wonderful organisation with so much to offer. It wants to raise awareness about violence against women and this is important since so many choose not to see it. I really like all the different information on their website and wish I was able to see some of this when I was in the relationship that I was in. I also think it is great that men are included in their work because men should understand what they can do to stop abuse. Also for those men that get into a relationship with a survivor it is nice that they have a place to get information.