Suloshini Jahanath

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Posts by Suloshini Jahanath

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – ULRIKA, Sweden

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twenty-third featured artist is  ULRIKA. ULRIKA’S gifted voice and songwriting blurs the lines between pop, indie and electro. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, Ulrika crafted her powerful voice throughout many years of choir school and classical training. With a unique and spirited personality, her global appeal and sound has been compared to artists such as Sia, Ellie Goulding, and Gwen Stefani. Aside from lending her eyes to CoverGirl and her voice to an international campaign for Gillette, Ulrika has been featured in H&M’s 2014 summer magazine. She has reached notable success on YouTube with millions of views and thousands of followers, which has led to sponsorships with TC-Helicon and Tannoy Speakers. Ulrika’s debut single “Animal” was well received by bloggers around the world and has been referred to as “epic pop”. She will be releasing her full EP Summer 2015. To learn more about ULRIKA and her music, visit her YouTube channel or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Ulrika 1Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My name is ULRIKA. I’m a Swedish pop artist and writer, now located in Atlanta, GA. I have classical schooling, but knew from an early age that the pop genre would be the most natural and important one for me to take on as a career. The Pixel Project’s mission is something I feel strongly about supporting. The overall message in my songs is inspiring and self-empowering. I believe that especially young females need a strong, positive role model in music.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?

I was raised in Sweden which ranks as one of the world’s most gender-egalitarian countries, based on firm belief that men and women should share power and influence equally. Because of the social values of my country and upbringing, I think it’s pretty self-evident that violence shouldn’t exist and especially not violence against women.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Music is one of the most powerful tools to influence society. You can’t escape music.  It’s in your home, at the mall, in the car, on your trip etc. If a song is written correctly it can help spread a positive and educational message to the uninformed. It can raise awareness and inspire the community to take action while empowering the abused women to get out of their situation.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

We can raise awareness by writing songs on the topic. We can perform and speak at events like The Pixel Project. We can use our “power” and be vocal about issues like this in social media and such outlets to inspire our fans to get emotionally and actively engaged.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Rochelle Diamante, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twenty-second featured artist is Rochelle Diamante.  Also known as RoRo, Rochelle Diamante is the multi-talented, singer-songwriter and actress quickly making a name for herself in Hollywood.  Originally from Seattle, RoRo developed her love for music at an early age and in 2005 decided to begin making music her career. Buzz about RoRo quickly began to spread after she made her debut on YouTube in 2010 where she has amassed over 26 million views.  

RoRo has worked on hit recording and writing projects with various big producers including David Ryan Harris (John Mayer), Blake English (Kelly Rowland, Brandy), Mike Mac (Beluga Heights), and the incomparable Lauren Christy (The Matrix Team). After signing with Buskin Records/WBR in 2014, RoRo has been working tirelessly with an amazing team on production of several new singles and a new video scheduled for release in 2015. To find out more about Roro, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, or check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Rochelle DiamanteTell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I’ve been singing since I was 10 years old and ever since I started, I’ve wanted to use my music to make a difference. There are so many women who need help and I am honoured to help raise awareness for this cause.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

It’s wrong! Violence in general needs to stop. But there are women dealing with violence everyday, trapped and scarred. We can make a difference.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Music is life. It’s all around us. There is not one person on earth who doesn’t have a favourite song, favourite band, etc… Play music and people will come and be more willing to learn about the cause and help in any way they can.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Music artists have an influence on their fans that can help shine a light on issues their fans may not have known about. Opening their minds is the doorway to opening their hearts to help those in need while at the same time giving them knowledge to prevent it from ever happening to them.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Olivia Thai, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twentty-first featured artist is Olivia Thai.  She is a powerhouse name in the Asian American new media scene for comedy and music. She posted her first video on YouTube in 2007, which grew quickly to amass over 21 million views, 150,000 loyal fans, and appearances in magazines, newspapers, television, and film.

She has since moved on from her days in sketch comedy, and in less than a year, the combination of her unique persona and thought-provoking original music has gained worldwide media coverage. Olivia and her guitar, Monna Lisa Lucille are currently on an international tour performing the 100+ original songs written in two months. To find out more about Olivia, check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Olivia Thai 1Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

Hello! I’m Olivia, a musician and comedic actress who has been in the public eye for a decade now.  There couldn’t be a better time for me to participate in The Pixel Project’s Music for Pixels Summer Charity Concert personally, but I truly believe this is a deeply rooted issue that can and has negatively affected generations of people. I recently wrote and released a song specifically dedicated to victims of domestic abuse, and I am truly honored to play this live for the first time on the internet at this event.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

I believe that there simply needs to be more love and trust in today’s society.  Ending domestic violence against women, men, and children will change all our lives for the better. Love and trust can be restored between strangers, and ultimately, that is what I want for all people.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

Violence derives from anger and results in pain. I have and always will deal with both of these emotions through music and creativity. I want to help the community the best way I know how, which is sharing my experiences through music.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

I understand that it is difficult to relate if they haven’t personally experienced or witnessed domestic violence cases. However, when we take the time to do our research and reach out to people outside of our comfort zones, we can help many more people through the arts. This is something I do on a daily basis. I allow everyone I meet to inspire my music. It is a truly humbling experience, and I highly encourage all songwriters to explore this.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Nathen Aswell, Canada

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our twentieth featured artist is Nathen Aswell. A gifted speaker and recording artist based in Vancouver, Canada, and he believes that his calling in this life is to inspire and heal through his words and music. His CDs “Little By Little” and “YES” are celebrations of life, transformation, evolution and the oneness of humanity.  Nathen honours his calling by speaking and performing internationally at Conferences, Concerts, Men’s Retreats and Churches, presenting his music, stories and humour with his voice and the NS Stick (an 8-stringed electronic instrument that can be plucked like a bass, strummed like a guitar, or tapped with both hands like a piano). To find out more about Nathen, follow him on Facebook, or check out his videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Nathen AswellTell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My mission is to inspire and heal through my words, actions and music, and being a part of The Pixel Project is an opportunity to do just that.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

Ending violence against ANY being, male or female, is important to me. We are all manifestations of God / Higher Consciousness / Perfect Love and every one of us needs to be fully loved, honoured and celebrated as such.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?

It helps to raise awareness and change consciousness in a way that words alone cannot.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

LISTEN to the women in our lives. Let them fully tell their stories, so that our hearts break and we fully understand the issue in our HEARTS – not just in our heads.

Share stories / write songs about how this issue has personally affected us (the music artists) and the women in our lives.

Be a part of events like this Pixel Project concert to help raise awareness.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Miguel Dakota, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our nineteenth featured artist is Miguel Dakota. Miguel Dakota is a soulful and passionate singer/guitar player from Colorado. His first encounters with music came from his parents who brought him to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at just 10 days old. The festival, which brought the music of B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and Eric Clapton to the stage, left a lasting impact on Miguel’s heart for music. At age 11, Miguel received his first guitar and began learning to play and write music.

In 2014, Miguel was a contestant and finalist on NBC’s Americas Got Talent where he covered such songs as The Beatles “Come Together”, “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, and “Billie Jean” By Michael Jackson and caught the attention of the masses with his soulful and heart felt vocals. After his first audition, Simon Cowell tweeted, “Miguel Dakota. A future star…”. On the show’s finale episode, Miguel performed alongside the incredible Lenny Kravitz to Lenny’s “American Woman”

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Miguel Dakota 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

My name is Miguel Dakota. I am a singer/songwriter from Monument, CO. I was a finalist on Season 9 of America’s Got Talent. I have pursuing my love for music since receiving my first guitar at the age of 11. Creating music that is therapy for me and connects to my audience is the reason I love song writing. I wanted to be a part of the Pixel Project Summer Charity Concert because the cause that the concert is benefitting is something I truly want to support.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?       

Society has a materialistic view of women. Advertisements, music, and media sell themselves and their products by “selling sex” and associating certain types of beauty with their products. Women themselves then become associated with products and treated as objects. The abuse of women is overlooked because the mind-set of society is apathetic toward people they see as objects. We must realize these negatives and change our mind-sets to protecting women and treating every human being with respect and integrity.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?      

I believe that music is an incredible resource in affecting change in the world. As musicians and artists we have the ability to open hearts and minds through creativity. Music can be used to change the mind-set of it’s audience from viewing women as objects to seeing their true beauty and ending women’s violence.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Music artists can join charity events such as the Pixel Project to raise awareness about violence against women. We can also write music that has lyrical integrity and a positive view of women.

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – L. Young, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our seventeenth featured artist is L. Young. Born and raised in Louisville, KY, L. Young was groomed for music in the church. By age 5, he was already singing in the adult choir. While attending the prestigious “Youth Performing Arts High School” in Louisville, he performed abroad in Belgium (Brussels), Bahamas, the UK (London), and the U.S. L.Young is an established artist, writer, and performer who has been credited for writing, music, and production for several artists, as well as platinum selling soundtracks. Writing credits include the top 5 single and title track off Jessy J’s #1 Billboard debut Album “Hot Sauce.” Keke Wyatt’s projects, “Who Knew” and “Unbelievable.” He is also credited for music in film and network TV to include: BET’s The Game, ABC’s According To Jim, 20/20, One Life To Live, VH1′s Basketball Wives, USA Network’s Burn Notice, also the movies Don Jon. Booty Call, and The Long Kiss Goodnight among others. He has recently released his 4th album entitled “ReVerb” featuring his Billboard Urban AC top 20 single ‘Love Is A Verb.’  To find out more about Young, follow him on Facebook, or check out his videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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L Young 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I was born and raised in Louisville, KY to a wonderful single mother. I witnessed first hand violence against her from a few unhealthy relationships she had as my brother and me were growing up. It was not only devastating to her but to us as well. it seemed there was no one there to speak for her or us as a family. That’s why I’m lending my voice today.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?  

Because no civilization can rise higher than its woman. How high you elevate, respect and honor the mothers, sisters, and daughters of society determines what heights you can reach as a nation.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women? 

Music is and always will be one of if not the most effective tools for social change. Music shapes thoughts, and those thoughts become action. I don’t know anyone on this planet who doesn’t listen to music of some sort. They may not watch TV or movies, possible don’t choose to or are unable to read, can’t see the beauty in a painting, or maybe hate the theater. But music, need I say more?

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Speaking out more and louder. Creating more positive contents towards women and making music that promotes healthy relationships..

The “Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert” Interview – Lauren Ruth Ward, USA

As part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, we talk to the music artists who have participated in the concert about why they are using their music to speak out and to say NO to violence against women. 

Our sixteenth featured artist is Lauren Ruth Ward. In 2012, Baltimore, Maryland, Lauren Ruth, whose smoky voice and raspy tone show vulnerability and strength, was recognised on YouTube for one of her cover songs gaining over 1 million hits, capturing the attention of labels such as Warner Brothers Records, Sony Records and Copeland Entertainment.  

Ward’s fan base crosses from folk to rock and easily appeals to country fans as well as mainstream audiences. She made her first radio debut on 89.7 WTMD’s Baltimore Hit Parade. In 2014, Ward signed with Copeland Entertainment Management. In less than one year, she’s written with Lauren Christy and world renowned Producer Linda Perry. Ward is set to release her EP in Fall 2015.  To find out more about Lauren, follow her on Twitter, or check out her videos on YouTube.

The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert was held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign 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$1 and while the Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert Indiegogo fundraiser is running from June 5th to July 5th 2015, donors can donate to get exclusive music and artist goodies ranging from personal Skype concerts to treat bundles for the serious music lover.

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Lauren Ruth Ward 2Tell us about yourself and why you have decided to take part in The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert.

I’ve decided to take part because I feel very passionately for what The Pixel Project stands for. As a child, my parents always stressed the importance of equality. In some parts of the world, I believe violent acts against women are triggered by inequality. Music applies to all races, sexes and ages. By reaching out musically, there is great hope of opening more eyes and touching more minds thus shinning a light on this very serious issue.

Why is ending violence against women important to you?      

I am so fortunate to live in a country where women rarely face half the brutality that others endure. As a human, it makes me sick to know cruelties such as genitalia mutilation and trafficking are happening everyday. As a woman, I feel it is only logical to do what I can to help end these cruelties and others.

In your opinion how does music help in efforts to end violence against women?      

I remember learning in history class that music came before language. It is in every culture. In my life, it’s usually the number one topic I use to relate to whomever I am meeting. I’ve also used music many times as a healing mechanism for death, heartache or just a bad day. It applies to all races, sexes and ages. By reaching out musically, we can touch lives who’ve suffered and gain attention from those who can help.

What actions can music artists take to help end violence against women?

Not only taking part in events like The Pixel Project’s Summer Charity Concert but sharing my experience and how great it feels to be able to help others will spread the word about violence against women. Hopefully one day I will be able to give generously to charities I feel so passionate about such as The Pixel Project.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Beth Taylor, 46, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our second annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2015. The project runs throughout the month of May 2015 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 2015 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 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Beth Taylor from USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

Beth Taylor is currently the Executive Director at Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center of Scotland County. Passionately driven by her own experiences as a survivor of domestic violence, she began volunteering with another agency about five years ago, and within three years, she worked her way into her current position. In 2013, she was one of 20 women who were chosen by Pearls for Creative Healing (in Charlotte, NC) to share their stories in a powerful photo gallery exhibit. Beth is very active in her community getting the word out about the work they do at their agency. When she isn’t speaking, teaching, training, fundraising or writing grants, Beth is a member of the Triple Toe Cloggers Adult Dance Group and, along with her husband and daughter, takes Tae Kwon Do classes twice per week. She also volunteers with Richmond County Animal Advocates in Rockingham, NC, where she and her husband currently reside.

 

Beth Taylor1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am a two-time survivor of domestic violence at the hands of men who professed to love me. The last one nearly killed me.

It still took me eight years after leaving that situation to really feel like I had healed and truly survived it. My self-esteem was still in the dirt, so I made my own “barriers” to rebuilding. It was not until I began to work in the advocacy field that I realised that I was also a victim of sexual abuse. Through school, training, and counselling, I have also acknowledged that aspect of my abuse.

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

I left the first abuser twice before finally being free from him.

The second one was much more dangerous when I was trying to make a plan to leave. My best friend, who was also my boss at the time, simply came into the house the morning after the final attack and got me and my stuff and took us to her house. If she had not gotten me out of there when she did, I have no doubt I would have been killed, likely within that same week. We had been together for over two years, and the abuse had escalated to a level of violence that came with no warning; he had gotten to a point where he was beating me in my face, and would laugh when I would beg him to stop. Death was not far from me, and I will always believe that my friend saved my life that day.

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

I ended up having to leave my job because he would not stop coming up there and calling and harassing me. I had not wanted to involve the police, but they ended up arresting him after an incident where he came on my job and started destroying store displays because I would not talk to him.

My overall healing and rebuilding did not begin until a few years later, when I relocated to North Carolina to make a new start, away from old acquaintances and bad decisions. It came to a point where I had to make a change for myself and stop getting involved with men who clearly did not have my best interest at heart. Finding myself again was paramount, and finally realising that I was worth way more than I had allowed myself to ever believe.

 

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

When a woman/girl realises that she is in an abusive relationship, she should let someone know; call a hotline, tell a friend. It is essential that she plan for her safety, as we know it is unlikely that a victim will leave after the first violent incident. Statistically, a woman has been battered/struck 30 times before she ever tells anyone or considers leaving the situation or seeks any kind of help, or even tells anyone.

After escape, the best piece of advice that I normally share with my clients is to spend at LEAST one year by yourself following an abusive relationship, and do not allow yourself to enter into a new intimate relationship. One thing you have to do after escaping an abusive relationship is to re-establish your autonomy and set your standards, as well as learning your real value instead of relying on anyone else’s opinion of what you should or shouldn’t accept. The hardest thing to regain is your self-esteem, and it’s even harder when you do not take that crucial time to heal from within.

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

By getting involved, and letting our communities know that this is unacceptable. I believe strongly that if there was an outcry from non-violent MEN who will stand up and say “You can’t do this to women”, that would send a strong message to abusive men, and let survivors know that they are standing up for us.

We also need to be having conversations with our local, state, and federal governments and putting on the pressure to have more stringent punishments for those who perpetrate violence against women.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project and their Survivor Stories Blog Interview campaign because I believe that it is of utmost importance for those of us who are active in the movement to make sure that people/supporters don’t become desensitised of the words “domestic violence”, “sexual assault”, “rape”, “violence against women”, or any of the many monikers that we have societally assigned to the atrocities that are committed against victims of these crimes. The best and most effective way to do that is to put the faces of real life survivors out there when we talk about it. When you put a name and a face to it, it’s much harder to turn your back on.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Leslie Evans, 35, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our second annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2015. The project runs throughout the month of May 2015 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 2015 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 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Leslie Evans from USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

Leslie Evans is a 36-year old single mother of four. In 2008, she received the Mother of the Year award from Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence in Tucson, Arizona. In 2010, she was recognised by the governor and received a Voices of Victims award. She is currently on the Share Committee, which is part of the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. In this capacity, she gets together monthly with other survivors and talks about current issues going on in her state and help finds ways to educate and spread awareness. Through the Collation she was given an opportunity to speak with professionals about what works and doesn’t work when helping victims by sharing her own experiences. She currently works as a private duty caregiver, a job which she created for herself. This allows her the opportunity to be a hands-on mother and be available to her children when needed. She has also found joy in sewing and is teaching herself to sew. She currently makes stuffed owls (Who’s Whoose made by Leslie) and hopes to sell them. She is also very involved in her church and is able to do outreach to other women in her community.

Leslie Evans1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I have now been physically separated from my abuser for two years. I have endured all kinds of abuse for the last 13 years, including physical abuse – hitting, punching, pushing; sexual abuse – rape, forced sex with other another person, etc., mental abuse and to this very day, verbal abuse and threats.

I have been called every name in the book to how much he loves me, to how much he believes I can not live without him. I am currently safe physically as I moved 100 miles away but he communicates with the children. I monitor their conversations and he knows it. Through the children he continues to verbally and emotionally abuse me. I continue to go to therapy and group therapy to build myself esteem and build strong boundaries.

It is hard to admit to rape when you are married but he did hold me down once and then many times just would not let me sleep if I would not have sex with or he would wake up the children when they were young to ensure that I would not get much sleep. He would often just say that I was not smart enough or not able to make good choices. I had let him do things because I believed his lies about not being able to function without him.

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

I snuck out many times when he was drunk. I guess I was lucky in that I knew he would pass out soon enough if I could just survive when he was awake. The last time he was drunk and attempting to do a cleaning job for my mother, she kept him distracted while I collected all of my belongings along with my children and within three hours I had quit my very good job, got out of my lease, picked up my kids and moved out of town.

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

The most important thing I did was seek help. And that was hard. It was very hard to find a non-crisis or non-shelter Domestic Violence group. I did find a group that I had to pay for and an amazing therapist. Without them I would have gone back to him a year ago. With their support I am able to find my reality and fight his lies.

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

You deserve love and joy. You are not crazy! He is!  You must find a support group. Al-Anon and CODA (co-dependency) groups will help if you’re unable to find one that is specific to abuse. You’re not alone. And it takes a long time to heal.

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

My belief is that you cannot end violence against women.  But I believe that just like racism will never be truly dead. However, a lot of people know it is wrong and they know what it sounds and looks like, so those who are racist have a harder time showing their true selves because it is not as socially acceptable as it once was. In the same way, we must make violence against women socially unacceptable so the perpetrators will find it hard to hide it, and victims will know sooner that what is happening to them is wrong.

We do this by talking about it. We do this by supporting victims. We do this by have better and stronger laws to make the abuser accountable for their actions. We do this by educate our children on what healthy relationships look like and sound like.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because they support me by telling my story through other people. When I read a story I know I am not alone. I know that I am on the right path. I know that he is not my oxygen. I can breathe without him and breathe well. I live well. I am finding my truth and my joy.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Donna Cairy, 36, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our second annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2015. The project runs throughout the month of May 2015 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 2015 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 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Donna Cairy from USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

Donna Cairy was born on an Air Force base in Texas. She was raised in Illinois and currently lives in Wisconsin. She graduated with a BA in Deaf Education from Northern Illinois University and a MA in Education from the University of Wisconsin Platteville. She is a wife, mother and teacher of students with hearing loss. Donna is a survivor of domestic violence and for the first time in her life she is comfortable in her own skin. She is now married to her best friend and soul mate with whom she shares the most challenging and rewarding job she has ever had: raising their two young sons. 

Donna Cairy1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I began dating my ex-husband while I was in high school. I did not know enough to see the warning signs while we were dating. He was an 18-year old alcoholic and I was a girl in love. The first act of violence that I remember was a night that it was snowing and cold. He pushed me down into a snow bank. We “mended” our relationship and got married when I was 18.

During pre-marital counselling the priest told me that my future husband would not be easy to live with. That prediction was true, my ex-husband was controlling and manipulative from the very beginning. He would constantly tell me that I was selfish and that I did not work hard enough. I was a full-time college student and working two part-time jobs. I had to keep everything in order at home: cooking, cleaning, and all of my “wifely duties”. Dinner had to be on the table at 6:30 pm sharp every night. I had $37 a week for groceries and I was required to eat all of the leftovers. More than once I got food poisoning from eating spoiled food.

I was also controlled sexually. I was given black eyes and bruises, all of which were “my fault”. I was raped multiple times and forced to do things in the bedroom that included being whipped for his pleasure. He would lock me in our apartment for 24 hours and force me to have sex every hour. He also whipped me every time I did something wrong.

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

My ex-husband decided that he wanted to be with someone else and moved in with another woman before we separated. He came home one night, said he was moving out and left. I stayed home from work the next day, cancelled joint credit cards, opened a bank account, and filed for divorce.

The next few months were not easy as we owned our home jointly and he would come in at all hours and further abuse me. I put a dead-bolt lock on my bedroom door and slept with a hammer for self-defense. I kept all important paperwork and valuables in my trunk. I moved out of our home two weeks after my divorce was final even though our home was unsold. We finally agreed that if he refinanced the home in his own name without me, I would pay off $6,000 in credit card debt. I lost a lot financially but it meant nothing as I gained my freedom and safety.  Those things meant the world to me because I knew what it felt like not to have them.

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

The healing was incredibly hard. I lost many friends and acquaintances, who did not understand why I lied to them about my relationship and also did not understand why I stayed. I began counselling while I was going through my divorce and joined a divorce support group. Both were helpful, but I left counselling because I was just not ready to deal with me.

It was not until after I met an incredible man who is everything that my ex-husband was not that I began looking at me and why I chose an abusive relationship. I started counselling for anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I worked for seven years on how to learn to trust others and most importantly love myself. I refused to allow my abusive past to repeat the cycle with my children and my new husband.

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

Please do not  listen to the judgments of others who have not walked in your shoes. People mean well but do not  understand the means you have to use to just survive. Also, there are resources and people out there who can and will help. Use these resources and people and if you have to use them more than once it is okay.

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

Violence is a learned behaviour. Children learn from the relationships and patterns they see as they grow up. Men and women need to teach their children that violence is not acceptable. Above all actions speak louder than words and parents need to live what they teach.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Organisations like this are vital in spreading the awareness of violence and letting women know that they are not alone. Violence against women crosses all races, colours, and creeds.  The Pixel Project demonstrates this and connects survivors across the world.