THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Rachelle Gershkovich, 30, USA

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 4th Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Rachelle Gershkovich from the USA. 

TRIGGER WARNING: The first Q&A in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse survivors.


The Survivor Bio:

Rachelle M. Gershkovich is a nutritionist, certified sleep specialist, author, and owner of Maternal Instincts. She has worked in postpartum support since 2002 and has helped guide hundreds of families through the transitions of the first year of their infant’s life. With her background in nutrition, she was able to develop a new tear-free method of sleep training based on nutrition and instincts. Rachelle educates and supports the understanding of the nervous system and its role in infant development and bonding. She is also a loving mother of four beautiful children and the author of Creating Sweet Dreams


rachelle-kachelries1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I grew up in an evangelical church that taught me submission and oppression from day one. When I was raped and molested at 14 the shame was put on me because I was no longer a virgin. My rapist was never charged or held accountable for his actions and I was then an outcast from my community.

I married my first boyfriend at 18 who became my worst abuser. He began the abuse 3 weeks after our marriage and felt I deserved every bit of it. He was physically, mentally, and sexually abusive. He used my rape that had truly shattered me as a young girl as a tool for control and manipulation. He is a monster to this day.


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

I called my sisters shortly after an exceptionally bad physical abuse and asked them to come help me. They drove through the night (13-hour drive) and waited for him to leave the house. When he left they helped me pack up my life. I hid for 2 years before finally gaining freedom.

Physically leaving was step one and it took 8 years before I moved to step two of emotional healing.


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

I started with focusing on my education and building a way to provide for my daughters. I built a career based on my passion and found healing in knowing my place in this world.

Eventually I gave myself the grace of processing and healing from the pain and things I had been robbed of. I respect my triggers and know my strength now. This project is also part of my healing.


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

I would like to share: You are stronger than you think, braver then you know, and deserve more than this.

I am a visual learner and processor, so I will share with you a small activity you can do to help. Sit down and think of something you consider crossing the line. Think of the one thing your abuser could do that you cannot forgive and will not tolerate. Draw a line with your finger in front of you and put that thing on the other side. Also write it down and claim if this person does this you will leave. No questions asked. It is your line in the sand and it cannot be crossed.

I did this and it was the only reason I left. I had moved states, tried to take the blame for “provoking” him, been to many counsellors, he had taken many anger management classes, and we had tried so many things to “fix” our situation. I would have done anything. Except one. I would not stay if he hurt one of my daughters. If he hit them I would leave no questions asked. That night he did just that. My daughter tried to help me and he hurt her to get to me. At this moment I saw my line in the sand and knew I could leave.


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

I think we can teach our daughters signs to be aware of and ways to read a situation, and to follow their instincts. I think we can teach our sons how to be protective and supportive of women. Most importantly I think we can lead by example.


6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because I believe in hope and living a life shame free. I believe in giving the ugly back to the person who deserves to hold it and living free of their actions.