Regina

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THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Christie Edmisten, 38, 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 8th  Survivor Stories interview is with Christie Edmisten from the USA.

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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.   

 

christie2_cropped1. 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.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Torey Ivanic, 40, 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 7th  Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Torey Ivanic from the USA.

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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.

 

torey-15-cropped1. 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.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Lisa Foster, 46, 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 6th  Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Lisa Foster from the USA.

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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” 

 

fb-profile-photo_cropped1. 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.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Erin Brandt, 36, 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 5th  Survivor Stories interview is with Erin Brandt from the USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

My name is Erin Brandt and I am currently working as a real estate agent in both Colorado and Texas. I actually own my real estate company in Texas and have been in real estate for 11 years, although during my abusive marriage I was often unable to work with clients. I have 3 children - 2 girls and a boy. My survivor status is that I am an overcomer and survived physical and mental abuse. I also am slowly working on opening a rescue home for woman and children.

 

erin-brandt_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

My experience with gender-based violence was in a domestic violence situation. I was mentally and verbally attacked on a daily basis by both my spouse and his children.

My spouse consistently accused me of cheating and told me I sucked at my job and at sales and there was constant negative reinforcement. At one point his child threatened to beat my head into the sidewalk. There were times where my spouse pushed me, hit me and took swings at me. He had put many holes in the walls, kicked and dented a vehicle and strangled his children in front of me.

The last straw before I finally made the leap to leave was where he had moved out and invited me to a concert. He brought beer as usual and he started a fight. He took me down dark back roads and pulled over near a field. I got out and ran away. I sent a screenshot of where I was and told my friend if I didn’t come to work the next day this is where I was. She saved my life by contacting the police immediately to track me down.

 

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

After the incident where I felt like he was going to kill me, my abuser was finally stopped in front of my first ex-husband’s house where the cops showed up. This happened on a Friday. My friend pulled up behind the police car and took me into her house. It was such a blessing. At the time this woman barely knew me and she came to save me!

My children had already been traumatised from our relationship. They were at my first ex-husband’s house and that was it for me. I no longer wanted to subject my children to this situation.

The following Monday I filed for divorce and a protective order.

 

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

I actually had a hard time healing. I moved out of the home that I had known for the past 8 years into an apartment alone. At the first court hearing, I wasn’t allowed to present audio evidence of the abuse that I had experienced. It was determined that I had lied about the abuse and my youngest daughter was put into the custody of my abuser. I was devastated. I was worried daily about her safety.

Down the road, my family was able to step in, hire a better lawyer, and gain custody of my daughter by presenting the exact evidence that I was denied to present to the court. After that I knew that my daughter would be safe and I move from Texas to Colorado to get away from my abuser.

Now, I am doing well. I am focused on my daughter and my work and family. I am in a good place emotionally. It’s still a rebuilding process; however I have been able to do so more quickly now that I don’t have constant chaos in my life.

 

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

I would suggest that once you start seeing signs of abuse that you should leave because  it won’t get better. I know that it is hard to recognise signs at first because it seemed to happen gradually until I was no longer in control of myself, he was. Looking back I can see the signs were there from the very beginning.

I would also like to let women know that the abuse or attempted abuse never stops. My abusive ex-husband, even though we have been divorced and separated for years, is still making attempts to destroy my life by making false claims and trying to tarnish my business.

We just need to stay strong and put these things out of our minds. We can no longer allow them to control our emotions, because when we allow this, we allow them to win.

 

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

We need more education. Men and children are the key to stopping the cycle and I believe that we could end violence against woman by teaching men and children about abuse – how it is wrong and how we should respect all people. When we respect one another, then we will stop harming each other.

I feel like there is a lot of focus on the rescue and rehabilitation of women, which is great. However, without a change in our society as a whole, abuse will continue.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project, because I feel that it is important to have some focus on stories of success after abuse. I feel like hearing stories of success gives women who are currently in abusive relationships a hope for a happy life after leaving a life of brokenness. It may be a long road, but it is a possible road.

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.

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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.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: PC Cast, 57, 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 3rd  Survivor Stories interview is with PC Cast from the USA.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Rape and Sexual Assault survivors.

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The Survivor Bio:

#1 NY Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author PC Cast is a survivor of rape. With more than 20 million books in print in over 40 countries, she writes multiple bestselling YA series. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. PC is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.  When she isn’t writing she can be found at her favorite yoga studio, or hanging out with her daughter and a close group of friends.  She loves travel, craft beer, good wine and awesome vegan food – not necessarily in that order. Ms. Cast’s picture is (c) Stark Photography.

 

stark_photography_cast_portraits_005_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

When I was thirteen I was raped by an eighteen-year-old young man.  He and I had been “dating.”  I put that in quotes because at thirteen I was too young to be allowed to date.  The night he raped me I was staying with an adult friend of the family while my father, who was a coach, was out of town with his team.  The friend worked nights, which was when Alan stopped by her apartment to say hi and hang out with me.

First he kissed me, which I remember thinking was fun.  As he kept doing more – reaching under my shirt, undoing my jeans – I asked him to stop.  He paid no attention to anything I said. When he forced off my pants I tried to stop him.  He said something I’ll never forget: “Oh, please.  Like you’re a virgin?”  I was dumbfounded.  I didn’t know what to do.  I’d already said no.  He was twice my size.  I was terrified and I remember freezing and being unable to speak or move while he was raping me.  I also remember he got pissed when he had to force his way inside my body saying sarcastically, “So, you’re not even going to help me out here a little?”

 

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

When he was done I told him I had to go to the bathroom.  He let me up and I went into the bathroom, locked the door, and took the hottest bath I could stand.  He was in the living room.  By that time, because there was blood all over him, he called through the door to ask if I was okay.  I don’t think he thought he’d done anything wrong.  He certainly didn’t act like it.

Eventually he left because he knew the woman I was staying with would be home from work soon.  I saw him once after that.  He tried to rape me again, but we were in public and my father was waiting down the street for me, so it was easy for me to get away from him.  Alan wasn’t from my town, and back in 1973 the world was much bigger.  I never saw him again.

 

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

It was 1973.  There was no such thing as “date rape.”  I blamed myself.  I believed I was broken.  I didn’t tell anyone what happened – not the adult friend when she came home; not my father (he raised me); not any of my friends.

I spent the next several years being promiscuous.  My thought process was, “I’m broken, so why not?”  Now I understand I was trying to take my power back by being the aggressor in sexual situations.  I loathed myself.

I didn’t begin to heal until I was in my late twenties.  I had to grow up enough to understand that what had happened wasn’t my fault – I hadn’t asked for it – I hadn’t deserved it just because I allowed my “friend” to come over unsupervised.  When I realised that I began to get help.  I went to a therapist and I finally started talking about what happened, and that is when I truly healed.

 

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

What I’d like to share is simple:  IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

It sounds like we should know that.  It seems we should all be aware, but when it happens to you, everything you know changes.  So, we need to sound our empowered yawps from the rooftops of the world as we shout: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT HE ABUSED YOU.  YOU ARE NOT BROKEN – HE IS.  WE SUPPORT YOU.  WE LOVE YOU.  WE WILL LISTEN TO YOU.  WE WILL BELIEVE YOU.

Say it over and over again, and don’t let any women – young or old – shoulder the fault of a patriarchal society’s apathy.

 

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

The only way we can end violence against women is to end the patriarchy.  As long as men rule – in politics, in corporate America, in positions of power – women will continue to be abused because MEN ARE NOT MADE TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS.

Over and over again the media shows us examples of men who are convicted of rape, only to receive mere slaps on the wrist because their lives could be ruined.  THEY SHOULD BE.  The Good Ol’ Boys’ club is alive and thriving, especially with Trump as President. Men don’t hold each other accountable for their bad behaviour, so women must.  Until more women are in power this ideology will continue.

As Martin Luther King, Jr said so eloquently in his Letter From Birmingham Jail: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

We must demand our freedom from the patriarchy.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Because I support the empowerment of women.

Editor’s note: Watch PC and her daughter Kristin talk about feminism, surviving rape, and eradicating violence against women in our Read For Pixels Google Hangout recording below.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Madeleine Black, 51, United Kingdom

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 2nd  Survivor Stories interview is with Madeleine Black from the United Kingdom.

TRIGGER WARNING: The video accompanying this interview may be distressing for some Rape and Sexual Assault survivors.

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The Survivor Bio:

Madeleine Black is a Glasgow-based Psychotherapist, Author and Public Speaker.  She worked for 14 years at a local Women’s Aid group as a support worker and volunteered at Glasgow Rape Crisis for 6 years on the helplines. She decided to improve her skills by studying counselling which led to psychotherapy and now works with both individuals and couples and doesn’t have a specialism but somehow attracts clients (both male & female)  that have experienced sexual violence in their lives.  She is also a power lifter, does karate and windsurfs.  She loves nothing more than walking her dog, being with her friends and family, and feeding lots of people.  She is passionate about sharing her story to help end the shame, stigma and silence that surrounds sexual violence, and she hopes the culture one day too. Her memoir is called “Unbroken” and you can get more information about her book and future speaking events on her website madeleineblack.co.uk

 

madeleine-black1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was gang raped by two American teenagers when I was 13 years old. The rape lasted for 4-5 hours and they raped and tortured me in every way they could think of.

I was raped 3 more times before I was 18, but the level of violence used was not as severe as during the gang rape.

 

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

Fortunately for me, I met my husband just before i turned 18 who is great and by simply loving me, he showed me that I was lovable, which helped my low self image

 

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

It took me many years to heal and I don’t think it was one thing by itself.  It’s been hard work over but I just became determined not to be defined by what had happened to me.

I told my husband when I first met him that I would never have children, but one day after he asked me about starting a family, I decided that if I didn’t have children then they would have won.  So I came up with a plan that I called my “Best Revenge” and that would be to have as  good a life as possible.

I have had talking therapies and body work too.  My journey has always been to get back into my body because I left it that night when I was 13 and it took me many years to feel my way back in.

 

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

Don’t wait as long as I did to tell someone (it took me 3 years).  It is NEVER your fault and I would go and get support if you are able to.

 

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

I speak out now to help end the shame, stigma and silence of sexual violence and I hope the culture one day too.  It was the courage of one woman speaking out that helped me to find my voice and I think that the more of us that speak out the better.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project? 

It’s such an important nonprofit to support, as sadly sexual violence, victim blaming, abuse, every day sexism is a huge part of out culture and we have to do all we can to eradicate it.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Vanessa King, 57, 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 1st  Survivor Stories interview is with Vanessa King from the USA.

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

The Survivor Bio:

Vanessa King, a survivor of domestic violence and Founder of Queen Nefertiti Productions LLC, produces beauty pageants.  She’s one of the first recipients of the Jewel Award and has appeared in “Who’s Who in Black Columbus” for exemplary work in her community.  She’s also received recognition for community service from government officials. Vanessa resides in Columbus, Ohio, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organisational Management and enjoys organising fashion shows and other events to raise funds for local charities.

 

vanessaking_headshot1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I am survivor of domestic violence.  My abuser, who was my husband at the time, had assaulted me on multiple occasions.  I’ve been kicked, spit on and dragged, had handfuls of hair pulled out and scratches around my neck where he tried to choke me.  Fortunately my injuries were never serious because I always fought back.

I’ve also almost been a victim of sexual assault, but again fought back so my attacker gave up.

 

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

In the domestic violence situation, we were living in the home of one of my relatives.  I made him leave and finally pressed charges against him.  He didn’t know I had filed charges and that there was a warrant for his arrest.  He called to get his things and I told him it was okay to come get them. I called the police but they wouldn’t come because he was not on the premises.

I was able to reach my brother who came over to be with me.  He was able to get my husband to go with him to the store to get beer and while they were gone, I was able to call the police again and let them know they were at the store and would be back shortly.  Just as my husband and brother returned from the store, the police arrived and arrested him.

We had only been married 6 months.  I filed for divorce and about 6 months later we were divorced.

 

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

I was able to heal and rebuild my life by spending a lot of time with friends.

In Ohio, if a person files domestic violence charges against their spouse, the state automatically takes the case and files the lawsuit on your behalf.  This eased the burden of having to hire an attorney on my own. I knew that I wanted a divorce but I didn’t have enough income to hire an attorney and made too much money to receive free legal assistance.  I had mentioned my issue to a few of my co-workers.  The father of one of my co-workers was a paralegal clerk and he prepared my paperwork for court.  He suggested filing a petition for a dissolution rather than a divorce and told me what I needed to file the petition with the court.  One of my brothers attended the hearing with me for moral support.  I was so thankful that I was not alone in this as it made the situation easier to handle.

Helping others helped me to heal: I also became a domestic violence advocate and spokesperson for an organisation called Fresh Start of Indianapolis;  I began competing in pageants and my platform was and still is Domestic Violence awareness;  In addition, I became involved as a volunteer in my community with other organisations that dealt with women and children.

 

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

I want to tell others women and girls facing the same situation that they are not alone, they are beautiful and there are people who love them. It may be hard to get out of the situation, but there are resources, organisations and people who will help them not only get out of the situation, but also help them to start a new life without the violence. Speak out and let family and close friends know what is going on – don’t be silent.  There are many people who will help. Make a plan to get away from your abuser.

If necessary, go to a women’s shelter for help. They will not only provide you with a safe place to stay, but also assist you until you get back on your feet.

Once you are out of the violent situation, don’t refer to yourself as a “victim”; you are a “survivor”, which means you had the strength and courage to get yourself out the situation of being a “victim”.

Prosecute. If you don’t, your abuser will get away with what they’ve done and will abuse someone else and the cycle will continue.

 

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

We can end domestic violence against women by creating more awareness through advocacy and education.  We need to make people aware of signs of domestic violence, teach them how to take precautions and we need to make sure that women are equipped with self-defense products so that they can defend themselves and be empowered to be safe.  

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because as a woman and a survivor of domestic violence and already working to raise awareness and funding to stop domestic violence against women, this gives me another opportunity to be involved with an organisation that does the same.

READ FOR PIXELS INTERVIEW: Juliana Spink Mills

As part of The Pixel Project’s Read For Pixels campaign, we interview authors from genres as diverse as Science Fiction and Fantasy to Romance to Thrillers about why they support the movement to end violence against women and girls. 

In this interview, we talk to Young Adult Fantasy author Juliana Spink Mills. Juliana was born in London, England, but moved to São Paulo, Brazil at the age of eight. Now living in Connecticut, she writes mainly young adult and middle grade fantasy and science fiction. Recent work includes short stories in the anthologies ALIENS: THE TRUTH IS COMING (Tickety Boo Press, 2016) and JOURNEYS (Woodbridge Press, 2017). Her first novel, a young adult urban fantasy, was published in February 2017 by Woodbridge Press. HEART BLADE is book 1 of the Blade Hunt Chronicles series.

Juliana took part in our 3rd annual International Women’s Day Edition of Read For Pixels, donating signed and personalised copies of HEART BLADE and some nifty swag to help raise funds for The Pixel Project. If you wish to donate to the campaign to help us reach $10,000, visit the campaign page which will be open until April 29th 2017.

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ju51. Thanks for joining us today, Juliana! Why is ending violence against women important to you and why did you decide to support The Pixel Project by donating copies of your book HEART BLADE to the IWD 2017 Young Adult book bundle for the Read For Pixels campaign fundraiser?

It’s far too easy to see violence against women as something that ‘happens to other people’; something that – when it does happen – is loud, and highly visible. And sometimes it is, but other times, violence against women is quiet, almost invisible, and easily brushed aside by those who are not affected. The Pixel Project does a great job in shining a light both on the ‘loud’ and the ‘quiet’, showing women everywhere that they do have a voice, and guiding people all over the world in ways to raise awareness and teach their families and friends to fight VAW.

 

2. Parents are usually the most influential role models in a person’s life. As a mom, what do you think parents can do to help prevent violence against women and girls in future generations and to get boys involved in helping to do so?

As a mother of both a son and a daughter, I think one of the most important things parents can do is make their homes an open and safe space for discussions on any and every topic. This teaches kids that communication is a better way to solve problems, and that resorting to violence is never the answer. Opening family time to debates and discussions also teaches respect, a key life skill for all children to learn if we want to put an end to VAW.

 

3. In your opinion, how can authors like yourself best support efforts to kick off social change to end violence against women?

I think authors – especially of middle grade and young adult novels – can contribute by not perpetuating certain story tropes that condone violence against women. Writing a variety of female characters that show strength in different ways helps, as does writing male characters that go against some of the prevalent stereotypes.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Read For Pixels “Flash Donation Matching Weekend” with New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Rose

read4pixels-rallyup-karen-rose_1

MARCH 8TH  2017 (WORLDWIDE): The Pixel Project, a 501(c)3  anti-Violence Against Women non-profit, is thrilled to announce the first ever Read For Pixels Flash Donation Weekend courtesy of New York Times bestselling mystery/thriller author Karen Rose which will take place from 12am PST March 11th 2017 to 11.59pm PST March 13th 2017. Ms. Rose has pledged a dollar-to-dollar match for up to a maximum of $4000 in donations made to the Read For Pixels 2017 (International Women’s Day Edition) campaign during this period.

Ms. Rose’s generous pledge covers any donations coming in via the Read For Pixels (IWD Edition) fundraiser during these three days whether they are made by book fans in order to get exclusive perks and goodies from their favourite authors or are standalone donations.

To encourage her global fan community to support the cause, Ms. Rose will also make several unique goodies available on the Read For Pixels fundraising page to reward her fans worldwide for donating. These include 1-to-1 Skype calls for individuals and book clubs as well as goodie bundles comprising her books or series paired with hand-knit items that she has personally made in support of the Read For Pixels campaign.

In addition to Ms. Rose’s contributions, all perks and goodies donated by authors and publishers for the campaign will be released just in time for the 11th March kick-off of the Flash Donation Matching Weekend. There will exclusive goodies from the 11 other Read For Pixels authors including Aliette de Bodard, Jacqueline Carey, Karen Chance, Kendare Blake, Kristin Cast, Laini Taylor, Mary Robinette Kowal, Michelle Hodkin, Michelle Sagara, Shannon Mayer, and Tessa Gratton. Additional goodies come courtesy of Penguin Random House’s Berkeley and Ace/Roc/Daw imprints, acclaimed Fantasy authors Anne Bishop, Darynda Jones, Diana Gabaldon, Kate Elliot, Keri Arthur, Kimberly Derting, and many more.

All funds raised are in support of The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to get men and boys on board the cause to end violence against women while raising US$1 million to keep The Pixel Project’s anti-Violence Against Women campaigns, programmes, and initiatives alive.

Regina Yau, Founder and President of The Pixel Project, said: “Karen Rose has been a staunch long-time supporter of the movement to end violence against women and it is our hope that her generosity will inspire book lovers worldwide to not only attend the upcoming Read For Pixels author Google Hangouts, but to also donate generously and begin taking action to stop the violence in their communities wherever they are in the world.”

To donate to the campaign during the Flash Donation Matching Weekend, visit https://thepixelproject.rallyup.com/read4pixels2017-iwd

To learn more about Read For Pixel, visit: http://is.gd/Read4Pixels

To learn more about The Pixel Project, visit www.thepixelproject.net

 

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For more information, contact Regina Yau at info@thepixelproject.net 

About The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net)

The Pixel Project is a complete virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 nonprofit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using  a combination of social media, new technologies, and popular culture/the Arts. Their flagship initiative is the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to turbo-charge global awareness about VAW using social media while raising US$1 million by getting a global audience to collectively unveil a million-pixel mystery collage of Celebrity Male Role Models at US$1 per pixel.

About Karen Rose (www.karenrosebooks.com)

Award winning, internationally bestselling romantic suspense author Karen Rose earned her degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland.  She lived in Cincinnati and worked in the engineering field for years before she began writing novels in 2003.  Rose currently lives in Florida.  Connect with her online at karenrosebooks.com, and facebook.com/KarenRoseBooks.