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 6th Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Lisa Foster from the USA.
The Survivor Bio:
I have been an entrepreneur, non-profit founder, public speaker, facilitator, and programme developer. But my proudest accomplishment – along with raising my son – is my Hero’s Journey: my transformation from survivor to thriver after long-term childhood sexual abuse by my father. I founded parillumeTM to empower victims of sexual violation to continue past the survivor stage and heroically reclaim the treasure of their trues selves shining in the world without shame. To learn more, please see my recent TEDx talk, “Sexual Violation and The Invisible Hero”
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?
I was sexually abused by my father, beginning at a very young age (2 years old) and continuing through my early elementary school years.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I didn’t escape. I went to school every day and found solace there. I repressed all memories of the abuse until the age of 20, when I began to have flashbacks and confronted my father about abusing me.
He denied it, and I lost my entire family. No one believed me, supported me, or helped me. Instead, they accused me of being used by the devil to destroy the family.
Fortunately, within a few months, as a senior in college, at age 21, I got married and was able to leave the family.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
Fortunately, in my new marriage, I had access to a wonderful therapist and began a three-year journey of intense healing. I went to weekly therapy and support groups and did everything I could to feel and process my emotions: all the pain, sadness, rage, fear.
After that, I continued to heal for another twenty years through various modalities, both spiritual and secular. I processed my PTSD through EMDR and participated in other powerful therapeutic work. And I journaled nearly every day, prayed, and talked to safe people about my story.
After 21 years, I left my unhealthy marriage and for the last three years have been on the adventure of my life, finally accessing my truest self and authentically shining in my life. I can finally say that I am whole and that I love myself.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
What happened to you is not your fault. You are not alone. You are not crazy, you are not to blame, and you are not broken. You are beautiful, you are free, and you can shine again without shame. You can be your own hero and go on a journey to recover from the pain and to then reclaim the treasure of your true self.
The first step is finding a safe person to share your story with who can also help you find the recovery resource that works best for you. If you can’t afford therapy, there may be a non-profit that can provide you the support you need. Just begin.
Read books, watch videos, check out the parillume website. Begin to feel and move through the pain and know that there is a fierce hope available to you. You are worth it.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
I think it requires a combination of many efforts and movements:
First: Those of us who have experienced violence must shine again in our voice and choice and tell our stories – without shame.
Second: Perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.
Third: Good men must rise up to say “No more. Not on my watch.”
And, finally, we must take action to transform the conversation around violence against women from one of shame and silence to one of heroism and fierce hope.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I love The Pixel Project’s mission! It is full of hope and creativity and light. Through the power of the internet, social media, pop culture, and the arts to end violence against women, the nonprofit reaches multiple generations of people who can make a difference.