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 7th Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Torey Ivanic from the USA.
The Survivor Bio:
Torey is a mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, climber, skier, hiker, runner, and yogi at the core. She values fun, adventure, healing, growth, and truth. Professionally, she has more than 10 years’ experience as a physician assistant in family practice using both traditional and homeopathic medicine, and she started her own homeopathic practice four years ago. She loves to help people to think differently and live better through one on one homeopathic treatment, small group masterminds, retreats, and speaking engagements.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?
I was the victim of gross sexual imposition at the age of 15 by my 30-year-old male gymnastics coach.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
My abuser moved away.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
I healed through playing in nature, doing yoga, skiing, climbing and finally seeing a therapist who had tons of experience in child protective services. His gentle guidance and acceptance of me as I was instrumental in my ability to get through it all.
15 years after the abuse, I reported it to the police. The case went to the State of Ohio’s prosecuting attorney who was on maternity leave since it was 15 years old and wasn’t a high priority. Once another report was made they brought the perpetrator in and questioned him. After he admitted his crimes they arrested him. He got out on bail and the prosecuting attorneys built their case against him. The trial date changed a bunch of times and that waiting game was torture; but the support we received from the victim/witness support office was fantastic.
He was ultimately convicted of multiple counts of rape and gross sexual imposition in 2008 and is currently in prison.
Five years after the trial was over I started my own business. I got married (the year after the trial) and started a family. These were things that I had been wanting in my life and just couldn’t seem to accomplish until dealing with this matter.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
Own the truth of what is going on. You are not at fault. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to define anything about yourself by someone else’s actions.
I will also say: get help and support from friends and family:
- My brother was supportive of what I was doing and had apparently told me to do it long before, but I guess at that time I wasn’t ready to hear it for what it truly was.
- During the time when I went to the police, I leaned on one friend in particular. She actually had a similar story in her history but she did not see it as abuse at that time. She was amazing at simply holding space for me and letting me cry. I couldn’t stop talking about it because it was so much on the surface of me at that time.
- I had also just started dating the man who is now my husband. He was extremely supportive and even came to be at my house when I made the tapped phone call to my perpetrator. He was gentle and kind and gave me all the time and space I needed to process and grieve and move forward. He is my rock.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
Talk about it more! Talk about it a lot when there are obvious situations, and talk about it in the light of PREVENTING it. Shine a HUGE light on the fact that it is RAMPANT in the world. It is far too acceptable and way too often swept under the rug.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I support anything that works towards ending sexual violence. I submitted my story to The Pixel Project because I think we need to talk more openly and more often about the subject of sexual violence.