Jerica Nonell

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Posts by Jerica Nonell

“30 For 30″ Father’s Day Campaign 2014 Interview 4: Steve Goodman, 56, USA

Welcome to The Pixel Project’s “30 For 30″ Father’s Day Campaign 2013! In honour of Father’s Day, we created this campaign:

  • To acknowledge the vital role Dads play in families, cultures and communities worldwide.
  • To showcase good men from different walks of life who are fabulous positive non-violent male role models.

Through this campaign, we will be publishing a short interview with a different Dad on each day of the month of June.

This campaign is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 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 fourth “30 For 30″ 2014 Dad is Steve Goodman from the USA.

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The Dad Bio

Steve is the Employee Relations executive for multiple business segments at Bank of America. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, he leads a team of employee relations professionals responsible for providing counsel to managers and employees in order to manage employment risk and help the company deliver on its operating principle of being a great place to work. Steve also serves on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte. He and his wife, Annette, reside in Charlotte. They have two grown children, Clay and Christine, and four grandchildren.

Steve Goodman with wife and grandsons

1. What is the best thing about being a dad?

Sharing experiences with them – good and bad – and letting them know that I’m beside them every step of the way. As my children have grown, I’ve seen them apply many of the stories and life lessons my wife and I shared with them over the years, and develop into wonderful, responsible adults. I’m now seeing them use many of those same life lessons to help their own children learn and grow.

2. A dad is usually the first male role model in a person’s life and fathers do have a significant impact on their sons’ attitude towards women and girls. How has your father influenced the way you see and treat women and girls?

I was fortunate to have a father who treated women with great respect in all situations, both publically and privately. He had grown up as the only boy in a family with four children. He enjoyed wonderful loving relationships with all of his three sisters. He appreciated their individual strengths and took great joy in their successes. I believe that his behaviour was learned from watching his father treat his mother and sisters with respect. One of the important lessons I learned from my father was that mean or abusive language can be as damaging as physical actions. He chose his words carefully, even during disagreements, and never used language that left others feeling demeaned or inadequate.

3. Communities and activists worldwide are starting to recognise that violence against women is not a “women’s issue” but a human rights issue and that men play a role in stopping the violence. How do you think fathers and other male role models can help get young men and boys to take an interest in and step up to help prevent and stop violence against women?

First and foremost, fathers and other males need to model appropriate behaviour for young men and boys to emulate. Second, they need to proactively create opportunities to speak to young men and boys in a candid and direct way about the importance of healthy and respectful relationships. This can occur during organised events, small group discussions, and one-on-one personal conversations. Frequently, the most impactful interventions occur when men observe other men behaving inappropriately in what may be perceived as a “safe” environment, perhaps behind closed doors at work or over a beer at the local bar, by using demeaning, sexist language or sharing stories about girlfriends and wives, which could demonstrate their desire to seek greater control in the relationship or even the intent to cause harm to that person. These types of intervention opportunities require that the observer demonstrate the personal courage to speak up in the moment to let the offender know that their comments or actions will not be tolerated. In extreme cases, the observer must reach out to law enforcement to intervene.

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Christina Blackburn, 40, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-ninth Survivor Stories interview is with Christina Blackburn from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Christina M. Blackburn is the founder of Speranza Human Compassion Project, an early stage, volunteer led collaborative whose mission is to provide innovative solutions to prevent and end violence against women and children. Speranza partners with universities worldwide to research & develop impactful cause related public media and educational training for first responders and professionals in victim services. Christina was the victim of domestic violence seven years ago and is now a pioneer for families in crisis.  Her goal is to inspire women to make better life choices through solution driven education and creative awareness campaigns. Domestic violence is 100% preventable.  What are we waiting for?  Speranza means “HOPE” in Italian.

Christina Blackburn PA4

 

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was the victim of verbal violence and physical assault by my then husband.

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

One day I woke up and decided this was the end. I was either going to die that day or I would never see him again. If I had to see him it would only be under court order, such as our child support and custody case. I lived, and he has only laid his eyes on me in court and in passing when I drop our children off 4 times a year.

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

I was so happy when I realised I lived. I did not expect to be that happy as I looked very bad and had no money or place to live. I went to the local shelter that accepted me. My roommate helped me get the assistance needed to leave my abuser successfully. I started examining my past relationships and other cycles of abuse that I allowed and realized I facilitated the problem by not speaking up, allowing the behavior to progress and by not leaving sooner. I started studying Psychology and learning more and more about how the brain works and about mental disorders. I then wrote a book to help women who were being abused and in the process it really helped me and my current boyfriend. I donated 50 copies of my book to the women’s shelter here in Philadelphia. I started a project to educate professionals that work directly with victims on how to provide effective compassionate care. We also empower women through mass media, by teaching them how to problem solve effectively for themselves and their children.

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

If I could talk to myself back then I would have wanted real dialogue. I wish that I had been told that acting like there is no problem is allowing the problem to continue. Just because you do not know what to do to get out of the relationship, does not mean that you do nothing. You must be aware of what is going on in your home. If it is not a good environment for you it is not good for your children, period. You have to begin making a plan for something more.

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

Through education and the media. By offering real common-sense solutions to problems women face in relationships and with their self worth. By exposing them to solution-oriented information daily, in the same way we see ads for cancer or autism awareness.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it goes along with the mission of our project and what we believe in. Having hard conversations and bringing this issue to light through various mediums is important and a good start.

THE SURVIVORS STORY PROJECT: Dawn F., 45, Canada

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-eighth Survivor Stories interview is with Dawn F. from Canada.

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The Survivor Bio:

Dawn F. works with a women’s society and supports women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest postal code. She has continued her education and is learning her Secwepemc Native Culture. She is the proud, single mother of a 22 year son. Dawn survived domestic violence and inter-generational trauma from her parents and grandmother attending Indian Residential School. At a young age she witnessed violence between her parents. The cycle of violence affected her entire life, and all relationships including with her son, her parents and partners. She turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, but then turned to recovery and is now four years sober.

DawnF1

1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence ?

My childhood and teen years were filled with violence. My parents were Indian Residential School survivors and coped by drinking and hosting raging parties. I, my brother and cousins constantly heard screaming, yelling and smashing items. I saw my mom and dad fist fight and later saw my mom fist fight many people. After my parents divorced my brother became more violent towards me and physically abused me almost daily. He tormented me mentally and emotionally as well. I moved out at a young age to attend college at a nearby town, where I began drinking heavily. I was in two abusive relationships with men. My first relationship was at the age of 19, he beat me to the point of being hospitalised and the second man was a serial cheater and he also hit me. I separated from him and left with my son. At that time my life was chaotic at best.

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

I had two major people that helped me escape. The first is my friend/sister Florence. We met when I was 13 years old. She supported me and never gave up on me throughout our 32 years of friendship. She guided me and pushed me to attend self-help programmes, substance abuse treatment and addictions counselling. And the second impact was my third partner Louis, he and I used drugs together and drank almost daily. He was emotionally and mentally abusive. He did not physically abuse me, but his words would hit below the belt. He made me feel small and unlovable. Then one day something happened with him and that single act was enough to wake me up and make me decide to not drink or use drugs anymore. I started off not drinking or using hourly, then daily then days turned to weeks, months and now years.

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

As a couple we both decided to get clean and sober together. We both went to AA and NA meetings, I began to read the Big Book and attend counselling regularly. As I began to face and talk about my childhood issues I let go of the hurt and resentments, my life became bearable and I could feel hope returning to me. Unfortunately, my ex-partner decided to relapse multiple times and we decided to separate. I went to treatment to further my healing journey and give myself the skills to continue with my sobriety. I moved back home for a short time and learned my traditional Native cultural ceremonies and sweat lodge ceremony protocols to help me with my spirituality.

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

I experienced many violent situations and relationships. I didn’t know how bad my situation was at the time. I just knew it felt wrong to be going through these experiences. It was difficult to develop trusting relationships with family and friends, but eventually I found a few people who I could vent to. It felt good to release “secrets” and validate that it wasn’t my fault. These people supported me and listened to me and I eventually took their advice and left the situation and/or relationship. They helped me to safety and guided me toward a more positive lifestyle. It may take days or years to follow through with escape plans but deep down you know it could save your life. There is no shame in leaving or asking for help. You and/or your children are worth it.

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

I will speak from a Native perspective. I believe we should first take responsibility for ourselves and our healing journey. As mothers we hurt our children who sometimes, grow up to hurt other people. Us, Native people need to work hard and diligently on our cultural protocol and educating our children. We need to teach our Indigenous languages to our children and our way of life. We need to teach spirituality at a young age and to respect the Earth. When we have love and respect for ourselves and other people there is no violence. Violence is not taught or tolerated and is not our way of life.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because I do not want to see any more suffering amongst females. When we can live free of violence of any kind, we are free in our hearts, minds, bodies and

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Carol Wilson, 42, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-seventh Survivor Stories interview is with Carol Wilson from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first two segments of this interview may be triggering to some survivors of rape.

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The Survivor Bio:

Carol Wilson currently works in a victim services programme, where she has been Programme Director for over ten years. She has an Associates of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and a Master’s Degree, and has received numerous hours of training in sexual and domestic violence, and stalking, as well as training and responding to victims of trauma. Seven years ago, she was sexually assaulted by a colleague and a trusted best friend of an ex-boyfriend. Following the assault, Carol Wilson continued to work in victim services, helping others rebuild their lives following criminal victimisation.

Carol Wilson 21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was sexually assaulted by my ex-boyfriend’s best friend, someone I also considered a friend. I knew him through work, we had attended several social functions together, and I spoke with him often about work-related matters and my recent break-up. He came into my house under false pretences of breaking up with his girlfriend and needing to talk, but shortly after arriving, he physically picked me up, carried me into my spare bedroom, forcibly removed my loose-fitting pants and raped me.

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

I said, “No,” and struggled to get away at first, but he held me down by his weight and my body was pushed up against pillows stacked against the bed headboard, so I could not squirm away. Eventually, I realised I could not fight it and just laid still. That’s when he stopped. I then pretended like everything was normal until I could get away from him.

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

At first, it took me a long time to acknowledge that a professional colleague and someone I considered a close friend had raped me. I had difficulty sleeping and tried to numb the pain with alcohol, and sought solace in short-term relationships that were doomed to fail. I felt guilty for not coming forward because I knew he was a sexual predator, but I knew how difficult it would be to prove the case given his job, his standing, and my reaction of “playing normal” following the assault. It took me several months, but I eventually started to return to normal. For me, I made the choice to NOT try to avoid him. It was important for me to feel like he hadn’t won, had not chased me from our social circle or my job. Also, I eventually told someone who was supportive and that helped me logically understand that the assault was not my fault. Over time, I have integrated that experience into who I am as a person and can speak about it more freely without pain.

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

First, I wish I had been more cautious about letting this person into my home. Even though I thought I knew him, I realised in retrospect that there had been warning signs that this might happen – please, please, please trust your instincts! Rapists are master manipulators who can get close to you to learn how you think, your fears, and your weaknesses to not only gain access to you at a vulnerable time, but to use subtle controls to keep you from making an outcry. If you do find yourself in this situation, do whatever you feel you need to do to survive with the least physical, emotional, and psychological damage. Don’t try to hold your story in; don’t try to control the pain yourself. That is a road that leads to more darkness that you might regret once you regain yourself and equilibrium. Find someone you can confide in and let it out – the betrayal, the shock, the fears, the anger, the pain. For me, it was like a festering boil – once I began to be able to write and talk about it, some of the pressure was released. Whatever happens, however, remember that rape is NEVER the victim’s fault. Don’t carry that sense of blame and shame with you. It will destroy your spirit.

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

The solution ultimately rests with controlling or stopping the rapist. As so many of these predators often go undetected for years with a trail of victims in their wake, it is obvious that controlling the perpetrators is not an easy answer, especially when so few are arrested and even fewer are convicted due to societal myths and disbeliefs about what rape is. Rape is a societal problem. We must teach all people that nobody is an object to be used. We must educate young men that rape is not the “norm.” We must educate the population as a whole about what sexual assault is, how it affects the victim, and how to intervene in situations that suggest a victim is not consenting or awake/aware of what is going on. Sexual assault is a terrible, life-stealing crime. It has remained a silent, taboo topic for too long.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Sexual assault has been in the shadows for too long. It’s time to realise that it doesn’t happen to “them” or “that kind of woman,” but can happen to any woman – our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbours, coworkers. It can even happen to people educated about sexual assault, and rape trauma can happen to those who have received training in reactions that occur following sexual violations. We don’t blame people who have their car stolen for having a car. Why do we blame rape victims for being raped because they were walking alone, drank alcohol, wore a “short” dress or have genitalia? Women everywhere are being sexually assaulted and sitting alone in silence due to fear of blame and judgement of social circles and media, and fear of not being believed by police or the courts. By helping society understand that rape can happen to any women, The Pixel Project will begin to undo some of the damaging messages about rape victims, help make our society a better place for justice for those who have suffered this most grievous indignation, and begin to create a climate where sexual offenders cannot hide.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Denise Escher, 42, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-sixth Survivor Stories interview is with Denise Escher from the U.S.A.

TRIGGER WARNING: The description in the first two segments of this interview may be triggering for some survivors of domestic violence.

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The Survivor Bio:

Denise Escher is a 42-year-old female domestic violence survivor, mother to two sons and three fur baby kitties, wife, paralegal, runner, and local domestic abuse project volunteer. She loves music, Facebook, working hard, running, shopping, hanging with her family, and spending time with her friends.

Denise Escher 11. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

On 14 February 2009, I was brutally attacked by my then-husband. He stabbed me a total of eleven times with five different butcher and steak knives. This was done in my mother’s home, where we were temporarily living. After repeated stabs, the knife broke and he dragged me across the kitchen floor to grab another weapon. He attempted to stab my face and neck, but due to my frantic defence with my arms, was only successful in stabbing my back and chest. Our sons, then ages six and three, watched in horror. I called for my six-year-old son to call 911 but he began to cry and scream uncontrollably when he saw his father stabbing me.

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

When my husband let go of me to comfort our son, I dashed for the door and ran barefoot into the street. I headed to house of an elderly lady that my mother provided for as a weekend job, but ended up at their neighbour’s house instead. The neighbour recognised me, called 911, and went next door to get my mother. By the time my mother came outside, the police were there. I have been free from abuse since that day.

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

I started rebuilding my life by finishing what I had started before the attack – getting my Master’s in Education in Secondary Education. Four weeks after the stabbing, I passed my state Praxis teacher’s exams. I finished student teaching and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I attended weekly counseling sessions, did a lot of reading, and took up running. In 2013, I completed my first half-marathon. I met the true love of my life and got married in August 2012. We recently purchased our first home together in September. I also became a local advocate as a trained volunteer with my local Domestic Abuse Project. I have a tattoo on my inner left forearm that reads “Survivor” in Chinese, to remind me that I am here, I survived, and that others can, too.

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

I would suggest becoming educated about abuse, learn what it looks like, learn what healthy relationships are supposed to look like, and how to get out safely. Safety Planning is essential to staying safe while escaping an abuser. Also, KNOW YOUR WORTH. Know that any type of abuse or assault is wrong and no matter how you might have allowed someone to treat you yesterday, it doesn’t define you forever, and it doesn’t mean you have to allow them to treat you the same way today. Don’t be afraid to confide in someone about what is happening. Seek help; there are many of us out here that will help you.

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

Violence against women needs to be treated by the courts as a serious matter. Protection From Abuse orders are not enough. Real consequences for abuse are necessary: GPS monitors ensure that the perpetrators stay away from their victims and violations are immediately tracked and put in jail. We need to educate our young people about violence. Often it’s cyclical and runs in families, communities, and cultures. Children grow up to do what they see, so if a child grows up in a home and wider community where violence against women is prevalent, he/she thinks that’s what love “looks like.” We have to educate our youth and our offenders, show them what relationships look like and what they don’t look like.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it takes a village to raise a child, especially when this child is violence against women. It can’t happen with one person alone. People of all colours, races, genders, creeds, and sexual orientations need to stand together and ensure that violence against women is not be tolerated. This is the mission of The Pixel Project, and it is one of my life’s passions.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Karen Caroll, 58, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-fifth Survivor Stories interview is with Karen Caroll from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Karen D. Caroll has been a licensed Registered Nurse in the state of New York for more than 35 years. She has made numerous presentations throughout the state on the topics of sexual assault, forensic examiner programmes, and her personal experience as a survivor of marital rape. Ms. Caroll appears as one of five women in Fear No More: Stop Violence Against Women, a documentary shown on Lifetime Television in 2002, and her story is featured on four websites: www.raisinghervoice.com, www.voicesofcourage.com, www.voicesandfaces.org, and Project Stand at http://nobukoonline.com. She has two sons and four grandchildren.

Karen Carroll1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

In 1994, I was tied, gagged, and raped at knife point by my then-husband at the time. He had been removed from my home by court order three weeks earlier when he pulled a knife on me during an argument. As a young child, I witnessed physical violence between my mother and father. My mother, one of the strongest women I know, passed away on Mother’s day in 2002. Sharing my story is how I honour her experience.

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

Having been exposed to domestic violence very early in my life, I grew up believing that I would never allow a man to hit me. When my husband pulled a knife on me during an argument, I knew immediately that I had to get an order of protection. As a nurse in the emergency department, I had advised countless women on keeping safe in abusive relationships. I knew that I could not live with a man that I was afraid may hurt me one day.

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

Once my husband was arrested, tried, and convicted of rape, he was sent to prison. I was given an opportunity to speak publicly about my ordeal within 6 months. Speaking publicly was so motivating and helped me to realise that women need to hear that their life is not over. I have never spoken publicly where someone, usually women, have not come forward to say “the same thing happened to me.” I learned that 1994 did not happen to me because of what I did, but because of everything that I will do!

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

I have always advised women who have been in situations similar to mine to find a way to turn their mess into a message. Don’t be afraid to confide in someone you trust or talk to someone anonymously on a hotline. There are so many of us out there and knowing that you are not alone can be so empowering.

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

I encourage everyone to speak out whenever there is an opportunity to do so. Don’t be a bystander; don’t sit by and listen when inappropriate comments are made. I believe that education and outreach to women, men, girls, and boys are the key. This is not a woman’s issue; it is a civil rights and public health issue. When we raise our children to respect everyone’s person and property, when we begin to break down the barriers of sexism, when we speak publicly about violence against women and hold perpetrators accountable, we will begin to make a dent in this global issue.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project reaches millions of people with their online campaigns, including the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project. I am committed to helping other women realise that they are beautiful, strong, and do not deserve to be abused. Perhaps my story will inspire someone to live their life to its fullest.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Paula Lucas, 55, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-fourth Survivor Stories interview is with Paula Lucas from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Paula Lucas is an international survivor of domestic violence, an author, and Founder & Executive Director of the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) and the Sexual Assault Support & Help for Americans Abroad Program (SASHAA). She lived overseas as an American expat for 14 years, living and traveling in Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East. She escaped her abusive ex-husband with her three sons and fled home to the USA for safety in 1999. She has dedicated the past 15 years of her life to helping other American women and children abused in foreign countries.

Paula Lucas1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

Living overseas as an American expat, everyone thought I had the perfect life, but my three sons and I were in a living hell. My ex-husband was brutally abusive – emotionally, psychologically, and physically. He would describe in graphic detail how he was going to kill us, then kill himself. I was trapped and the American Embassy couldn’t help me get out. I was left on my own to escape.

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

I feel like God sent me an angel. A thief robbed my ex-husband on a train in Germany and he couldn’t get back in the country. I was able to find my children’s passport, and forge some documents for some money. I fled in the middle of the night, taking a plane from Dubai to New York, then a train across country to Portland, Oregon to my sister’s home with my small boys.

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

I put all of my energy into helping other American women and children suffering in foreign countries. That was my therapy. I only wanted to look forward, instead of back. I have a very supportive family, too, and I am now married to a wonderful man. I wrote a book last year, Harvesting Stones, An American Woman’s International Journey of Survival. I was surprised by the suppressed trauma that surfaced but, through writing my story, I purged those terrible years. I feel completely free of my abuser now.

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

There is help; you don’t have to suffer alone. If you are an American woman, or a foreign woman married to an American man overseas, please visit www.866uswomen.org for directions on how to contact us. Our crisis centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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

We must teach our sons ways to express their emotions non-violently. It takes men to stop violence against women.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign showcases male role models who demonstrate that violence against women is unacceptable. This is the best way to stop violence against women. This organisation is awesome!

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Lynn Fairweather, 39, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-third Survivor Stories interview is with Lynn Fairweather from the U.S.A.
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The Survivor Bio:

Lynn Fairweather, MSW is an abuse survivor who has worked in the domestic violence response and prevention field for more than twenty years. As President of Presage Consulting and Training, she provides expert guidance and specialised education to professionals who confront domestic violence in both the public and private sector. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science, a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and multiple domestic violence training certifications. Ms. Fairweather has served in shelters and police departments, on multidisciplinary task forces, and has facilitated victim support groups and batterer’s intervention programmes. She is an active member in the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, and sits on the Board of Directors for Oregon’s Violence Against Women Political Action Committee. In 2012, Ms. Fairweather released her first book Stop Signs: Recognizing, Avoiding, and Escaping Abusive Relationships (Seal Press).

Lynn Fairweather1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I lived with my abuser for several years, during which I endured physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, and economic abuse.

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

I was able to end the relationship, borrow money from my parents, and use it to move into my own apartment. This was the beginning of several months’ worth of stalking and harassment, including a violent attack. Eventually, I left the state when it became clear that he would not stop.

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

I began and continue going to therapy, but my true, ongoing catharsis comes from my work. I have spent the last 20 years as a domestic violence advocate, counselor, speaker, and consultant. I serve in shelters, transitional housing programs, police stations, and courtrooms where I have helped thousands of victims find safety and freedom. I survived domestic violence, but it wasn’t enough for me to just heal myself. I felt like I had to do something to prevent as many women as possible from going through the same situation. In 2008, I opened Presage Consulting and Training, a specialised threat assessment firm that helps police, advocates, attorneys, and private corporations nationwide to evaluate and deal with the domestic violence dangers their communities face. I also put my knowledge and experience into a book, which seeks to educate and empower women to recognise, avoid, and escape abusive relationships. My work isn’t even close to finished, but now I’m a whole and confident human being with a happy marriage and two beautiful kids.

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

First, I would urge all women, particularly young ones, to “armour up” by getting educated on what abuse and abusers look like, so they’ll be better equipped to avoid and identify domestic violence. Second, my message to someone who is already in it: please talk to an advocate and make a plan – this isn’t going to get better, so you have to begin preparing your exit. Look for allies, save up some money, and use the criminal justice and social service systems that are set up to help you. Third, a message to people who have already escaped: learn how to assess and manage any future threats your abuser may pose. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in fear, but you should have a solid foundation of knowledge about how to protect yourself and your children against further abuse.

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

We are only going to win this war by getting everyone on board at every level. By this, I mean we begin educating children – boys and girls – at a very young age about healthy interactions and relationships. We should teach our kids skills in resilience, as well as respect for self and others. We must involve men, bystanders, employers, schools, and everyone else who can help to recognise and intervene in dangerous situations. We have to change our laws to give victims just as many rights as we give offenders. We need increased penalties for domestic violence and other types of violence against women, in addition to accountability measures, such as mandatory supervision and batterer’s intervention courses. We should fully fund programmes for domestic violence response and prevention, and support issues such as reproductive rights that frequently intersect with domestic and sexual violence. Lastly, we have to change the shaming and damaging mythology that our culture condones about violence against women and work with the media to promote messages of support toward victims, instead of perpetuating the blame and stigmatisation they frequently face when coming forward.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because domestic abuse and other types of gender-based violence feeds and grows on silence. If people hear survivors’ perspectives, they might recognise something within their own relationships or situations that could indicate future violence. They might realise it’s time to make a move and end the hell they’ve been living in. They can learn more about the subject and use that information to help a friend, neighbour, or co-worker that is being abused. I support The Pixel Project because it is bringing voices out of the dark and the only way we’ll ever really end violence against women is by shining our lights brightly enough to wake up the entire world.

THE SURVIVIOR STORIES: Christina Fernandez, 48, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-second Survivor Stories interview is with Christina Fernandez from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Tina Fernandez is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, currently residing in Fremont, California. She is the mother of two teens and was a stay-at-home mother for 14 years following a brief career as a paralegal. Tina joined SAVE (Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments), a non-profit organisation with over 35 years of expertise supporting victims of intimate partner abuse. Tina was named Assistant Director of Community Development in March 2014, and oversees marketing and communications, event planning and management, supporter and donor relations, fundraising, and general development strategies. In her spare time, Tina enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and raising chickens.

Christina Fernandez1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I grew up in a family in which there was family violence, including physical child abuse and emotional abuse. I suffered from very poor self-esteem as a child and was painfully shy, which continued into my 30s. As with many childhood survivors, I learned to cope by wanting to be a peacemaker and developing anxiety and depression. My first serious relationship was with a controlling man I met in college and whom I married at age 25. He convinced me that our marriage would be better if we started a family and we soon had two children. When our son was three, he was diagnosed with autism and I became very depressed. Eventually I realised I couldn’t stay in the marriage because I didn’t like the effect the fighting and tension had on our children.

Soon after we divorced, I met a man who promised to take care of me and my children, bought me gifts, and complimented my appearance – things that my ex never did. Within 9 months, he became increasingly hard to please and would tell me that no one else would want me or my kids. I felt as though I was walking on eggshells, always trying to find everything to please him. When I did things he didn’t like, he would “freeze” me out or would tell me I was “too sensitive” when I talked about how I was feeling. I became isolated from friends and family, and it felt impossible to break the break-up-and-make-up cycle. He would show up at my house and apologise and I always felt sorry and took him back.

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

By chance, I began volunteering at an organisation that supports victims of domestic violence. Though my husband wasn’t happy about it, I started questioning our relationship dynamic and standing up for myself. Eventually, he rejected me and, after nine years, I was finally free. I was afraid to be alone but realised that I could be happier without him. I moved my things out and never spoke to him again.

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

I talked a lot with my mom, who was very supportive, and a counselor. I started realising I could start over and that I deserved a happy life. Today, I could not be more grateful that it’s over. I regret that my kids witnessed my ex-fiancée’s rages and his abuse of us. I know I can’t get the years back I spent with him but now I know that I will never allow myself to be treated that way again. Sometimes I am asked what drew me to this work and I reply honestly because I want them to know that I am the face of domestic violence, a woman who is educated, has a career and family, friends, and many interests. I am confident, happy, professional, vibrant, and free. I want others to know that it is possible to start over and live without violence.

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

I would tell her the same things I tell my children: that no one has the right to abuse you and that we all deserve to be treated with love and respect. Abusers are the ones with the problem, not you. I also tell my kids that it’s important to set boundaries in ALL relationships, including friendships and family.

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

We can end violence against women by raising awareness and supporting organisations and efforts/campaigns that help prevent violence. Speaking up in safe ways when you suspect or see that someone is being abused is tremendously important. We can’t make a difference if we stay silence.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the project because I firmly believe that we can all make a difference in ending intimate partner violence and other forms of violence against women. No one should live in fear. Everyone deserves to be safe, loved, and empowered.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Coral Anika Theill, Over 21, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 2014 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 twenty-first Survivor Stories interview is with Coral Anika Theill from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Coral Anika Theill is a survivor of childhood molestation and abuse, rape, domestic violence, marital rape, spiritual abuse, and nearly twenty years of “legal stalking” and judicial injustice. Coral’s published works address abuse and trauma recovery and, most recently, wounded Marines and Montford Point Marines. Her memoir, BONSHEÁ Making Light of the Dark, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College, Portland, Oregon. She believes, “When we can truly embrace our pain and suffering and are able to be authentically grateful for our wounds and the brutality that we may have endured, we become ‘healed healers.’” For more information on Coral Anika Theill, visit www.coralanikatheill.com.

Coral Annika Theill 21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

What I experienced in my childhood and my marriage, as well as within the churches and court system, amounts to nothing less than hate crimes with a gender bias. In the course of my marriage, I was drawn against my will into several extreme Christian cults that emphasised patriarchal authority and the obedience of women. I was treated as a possession, a slave. Physical exhaustion, birth trauma, and a home environment that gave no support contributed to my mental and physical collapse in April 1993. Two years before I finally escaped from my husband, I suffered a breakdown – a partial stroke and severe depression – after the birth of my seventh child. While nearly catatonic, my husband forced me to have sex – his ‘right’ in the marriage, but rape to me – and I became pregnant again. After the birth of my eighth child, I recovered physically and mentally, and divorced my husband. When I learned my two younger daughters were being molested by a member of our family, I sought safety for my 8 children and myself. Within a year, my three youngest children were forcibly removed by the courts and given to my ex-husband. In fact, I lost custody of all 8 children, and have not seen them for 16 years.

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

I learned that true freedom begins that day we walk away from fear, scarcity, blame, and guilt. I legally changed my name and entered a state address protection programme in 1999 and participated in counseling with a trusted mentor for several years, as well as stayed connected with supportive friends. As I began to seek the truth that would create wholeness for me, mentors and friends assisted me in remembering who I truly was apart from my trauma. They taught me how to respect and honour the sacredness of my being.

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

I began journaling and later published my memoir, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark. Through writing, I created what is called a “healing crisis.” My greatest coping tool I possessed was my own still, quiet voice – my intuition. As I began to listen to my own inner voice, the lights within me turned back on and I became more aware of myself and the world around me. I value this gift – intuition – because it has never failed me. To heal properly, I discovered it was important to pick up the pieces I had left behind. This process is different for everyone, but the result is the same: you will, once again, discover your true essence. I believe that to heal from our trauma, we must be able to tell the absolute truth and face it squarely. Your trauma is not who you are, it is just what happened to you. In my quiet times, I still feel moments of raw pain from my past. I look at it for what it is: a catalyst for me to find the sacredness of my inner being, to realise more of myself and who I truly am. I believe how we think and act and how beautifully our spirit responds to our challenges is all that matters.

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

Keeping secrets binds up our energy and impacts our health and well-being. Once secrets are exposed to the light, they lose their power over you. I recommend seeking help through a trusted mentor or licensed counselor. If you think of yourself as a victim and are unable to move past this view, you won’t recover. If you see the violence only as a horrible event that happened to you and not allow it to prevent you from redefining your experience with a new spiritual outlook, you will recover. Choose life; move forward – with or without justice. Most victims have to recover without the conscience of their communities, cultures, and countries validating their story, without justice, and without restitution. I truly believe, though, that we are victimised twice if we do not seek justice. The journey of healing is a personal one for each individual and is not to be judged. The balancing act of trusting your own boundaries and recognising where people are in their development is a continual lesson in life.

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

New legislation that would promote safety and wellness for women, children, and families involved in domestic violence is needed. In our society, domestic violence is encouraged and condoned by patriarchal religious organisations. Women and children are taught shame, fear, guilt, and that the patriarchal hierarchy must be lived out in the homes. The courts are an extension of our patriarchal heritage that views women as less valuable than men. As long as we continue to condone those in power who harm and victimise innocent people, then we will continue to witness injustices against those who are vulnerable and unable to protect and defend themselves. Our judicial system needs our voice so that injustices that others and I have suffered will not continue. I believe that the only way to move things is to speak the truth in the face of fear. A victim’s first scream is for help; a victim’s second scream is for justice.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because they recognise the importance of raising awareness about the role of men and boys in helping to stop violence against women in their communities. By promoting positive role models and healthy masculinity, young boys and men can learn to use their strength to help create communities free from violence. I believe in inspiring young men to create their own positive definitions of masculinity, manhood, and strength, to embrace the concept of personal responsibility, and replace risky and violent masculine attitudes and behaviours with attitudes of respect of the self and others. Young men will translate their learning into community leadership and help to do their part to end violence and build safe communities.