The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking, online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign 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.
Our 8th Survivor Stories interview is with Christie Edmisten from the USA.
The Survivor Bio:
My name is Christie, I am a 10-year survivor of domestic violence. I have 3 amazing children, 2 boys and 1 girl. I am originally from Northwest Arkansas. I enjoy spending time with friends and family and trying new things. I also enjoy baking, cooking, and DIY projects. I work full time as a manager of a plasma collection centre. In my spare time I join attorney Julie Medina and share my story in her “Speak Out” programme, educating others on domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault. I also have a boyfriend of over 2 years who is a professional MMA fighter.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?
I was involved in a relationship where I suffered domestic violence for about 7 years. My abuser’s brother also took the life of one of my good friends
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I attempted many times to leave the relationship. Each time the violence escalated. I was afraid to allow any friends I had left to help me. During this time he would show up at their house; at one point he shot up a friend’s house where he thought I was staying. I was not safe anywhere.
I moved out of the home that we shared together and ended up getting a protection order. Unfortunately, this did not stop him either. With each attempt to leave I made the violence continued to escalate out of control.
He was finally arrested after hiding in my bedroom closet for 4 hours waiting for me and the kids to return home. My next door neighbour heard him assaulting me and called the police.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
Rebuilding my life was difficult. My attorney Julie Medina gave me a lot of resources for help. She set me up with an advocate from the Women’s and Children’s Alliance and with their help I was able to move from my former home. I was also placed on the Address Confidentiality programme and I had to make sacrifices and get used to living on a 1-person income rather than a 2-person income.
I remained focused throughout the court proceedings. I knew that if he got out of jail this time he would kill me.
I rebuilt relationships with friends and family I had lost due to the relationship I was in. About 2 years ago, I found the courage to share my story with others after Julie Medina invited me to speak with her as a part of her Speak Out programme.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
I would share my story with them. I would let them know that, despite what they may think right now, the violence is not going to stop, it will only escalate and get worse. Fortunately I was able to escape my violent relationship, but my friend was not so lucky.
I would also let them know that they are not alone. There are so many resources out there to help women in domestic violence situations, but you can’t do it alone, you need help! People do care!
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
Educate! Educate! Educate! I strongly believe that early education is key. I knew nothing about domestic violence before I experienced it.
Speak Out reaches many high school and college students. It puts a face to the crime and helps break the stigma of these relationships. No one seeks out these relationships; they happen and progress slowly over a period of time.
Educate law enforcement as well. They need to know how to recognise these relationships to better respond. Stricter laws for comestic violence are important as well. It’s intimidating for some women to want to press charges when they know that their abuser could likely get out in as little as a few months. The punishment for abusers that violate protection orders should be stricter as well.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I support the Pixel Project because it educates and brings awareness to DV, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes.