THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: JoAnn Buttaro, 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 twelfth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with JoAnn Buttaro from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

JoAnn Buttaro, founder of JoAnnSpeaksOut, is a speaker, advocate and activist for Date Rape prevention and awareness. Her blog under the same title incorporates her personal experience in a way that can help other victims heal.  JoAnn has been the subject of national true crime television programmes, told her story on radio podcast’s and is project adviser for Tell The World, a song for survivors speaking out about their sexual assault. In her spare time she volunteers as a Wish Grantor for the Make-A-Wish organisation. In 2013 she moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles for love and lives there with her boyfriend Steve.

Joann4 Rev (533x800)1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was drugged and raped by a man I met on Match.com on our one and only date. Unbeknownst to me I was lured in by this serial date rapist who preyed upon his victims mostly through the dating website. He fabricated all the details of his life, was charming and gained my trust.

After talking over drinks for several hours that night he invited me back to his apartment and it was there he drugged my drink. I woke up about 8 hours later naked in his bed with no memory of consenting to having sex with him and feeling sick all over my body.

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

My attacker pretended the next morning that our sex was consensual so there was no reason to escape. I simply left his apartment full of shame and embarrassment. We never went out again.

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

My healing process began with telling my story to a Philadelphia SVU detective along with the support I received by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. They stood by me throughout the trial process. I also received rape crisis counselling from WOAR (Women Organised Against Rape) located I Philadelphia. My family and friends were also there for me along the way. All these factors contributed to me healing and rebuilding my life.

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

Start by telling someone you trust and if there is no one in that position or that makes you feel uncomfortable then contact the local rape crisis center, RAINN or the Joyful Heart Foundation. It’s a long a difficult road to healing but if you stay with it you will succeed and be happy again.

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

We need to talk about it and encourage victims and survivors to talk about it. I have found that when I tell my story even to strangers that they have opened up to me about their experience with sexual violence.

It’s also very important to stress there is no shame in what happened to them and remind them it wasn’t their fault.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I like The Pixel Project’s single focused mission and message to end Violence Against Women using creative ways of engaging everyone no matter what group you are a part of be that women, men and boys in cities and countries all over the world. They have a variety of campaigns available for people to choose what’s best suited for their level of involvement. I supported this organisation as soon as I became aware of them.