Posts tagged Activism

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Lindsay Fischer, 32, 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 seventeenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Linsday Fischer 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:

Lindsay Fischer is a former high school English teacher, turned domestic violence author, advocate and public speaker. Over the last four years, she’s written a blog and guest posted across the internet as Sarafina Bianco, even self-publishing her memoir, The House on Sunset, under this name. In April, Lindsay identified herself as the author and furthered her reach by doing trainings with organisations impacted by DV and sharing her story with anyone who will listen. She hopes to humanise abuse, debunking societal myths and detailing trauma. You can find her words and mission at http://survivorswillbeheard.com

 

Lindsay Fischer1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I survived an eighteen-month violent relationship with a sociopath (outwardly successful, handsome and intelligent, but inwardly dangerous), including physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual and financial abuse.

During my relationship, I lost my job. After leaving, I lost my house and car. At twenty seven years old, I was unemployed and homeless, only three years after starting a successful career as a high school English teacher.

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

Before leaving, I feared escaping because I thought he’d kill me if I tried. A few days before I left, he held a gun to my head, telling me, that he loved me so much he could kill me. Then, the day I left, he threw me down a flight of stairs and kicked and choked me on the basement floor. I knew in that moment, that he was going to kill me whether I stayed or left, so I made the choice to leave.

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

For the first year afterward, coping was difficult. I was self-harming and self-medicating to deal with my PTSD. My experience taught me that the aftermath is just as difficult to cope with as the abuse, but I couldn’t afford therapy due to the financial abuse. Searching for a way to heal, I began blogging under my pseudonym.

When other survivors reached out to me, sharing their stories and thanking me for mine, I realised that writing was helping. Along with that, someone wrote me about non-profits who offer free trauma therapy. One Google search later, I found a local group that offered free trauma therapy and called them immediately. The wait list was long, but six months later I started their programme, graduating three years after I began. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitszation and Reprocessing), individual and group therapy were all included.

Sometime during that period, I wrote my book and started a Twitter chat called #domesticviolencechat to reach other survivors. I began teaching again and moved to distance myself from my abuser. The process was long and hard, but absolutely critical to rebuilding.

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

It’s normal to feel alone and normal to question your thoughts, beliefs and actions. Being traumatised shuts down the logical part of your brain, and getting that to work again can be difficult. Look for ways to heal yourself, especially if you can find a non-profit who offers any type of support. You can find these by reaching out to big organisations like NCADV. Even in the painful moments of life after trauma, it’s still more rewarding and worth it than staying in a dangerous environment.

Talk to other people who’ve survived what you have, practice self-care every day, and remember that you’re not alone, you can heal and there are people who want to help.

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

By continuing to have the hard conversations about the existence of VAW and educating society about its prevalence. Our culture doesn’t realsze how engrained VAW is in mainstream life (including media) and we need to be adamant about pointing this out as we continue progressing towards a safer world.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Because the Pixel Project supports women like me, who’ve survived violence. They also educate society. One look at their mission statement better explains how their purpose aligns with mine. It’s time we stand up, all of us (men and women) against this violence. The Pixel Project helps.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Kathlene Russell, 58, 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 sixteenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Kathlene Russell from the U.S.A.

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:

I am the mother of three beautiful children and grandmother to two handsome boys.  I have a Master’s Degree in guidance and psychological services.  After surviving domestic violence, I began to work in the field of domestic violence awareness and prevention and retired in 2011 as the Executive Director of The Women’s Center, Inc., a domestic and sexual violence centre in Pennsylvania, USA. I now am a small business owner and live a violence-free life near my daughters.

mom1_21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I experienced domestic violence at the hands of a lethal batterer.  Over the course of four years I sustained numerous injuries, including a broken back.  Upon leaving I was examined at the hospital and the medical record said that my body was “a mass of bruising of various ages.”

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

We – my three children ages 12, 8 and 1 and I – went to the Lancaster Shelter for Abused Women in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They gave us a safe place to begin our recovery and helped me negotiate the often hostile, always confusing, legal system. I credit them with helping to save my life and the lives of my children.

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

We, my children and I, rebuilt our lives together as a team. While the violence was directed solely at me, my children were obviously affected as witnesses to the violence. We experienced the violence together and worked to heal and rebuild our lives together. Together we became survivors.

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

You are never to blame for the violent acts of another – simply, never. You should never tolerate the abuse or violence of another – simply, never.

I thought all of the things that you are thinking. I thought it was, at least sometimes, my fault.  I was wrong. There is nothing I could have done that would ever justify violence against me. I thought it would get better if I only learned not to do the things that I knew would irritate him. I was wrong. There is nothing I could have done that would make it stop. Every time he beat me I learned to not do the thing that he said made him beat me. But there was always another time, always another thing, that he said would make him beat me.

I thought I was trapped; I thought I could not leave. I was wrong. Yes, I had three children and had no job, no family support. Yes, I was alone. Yes, it was hard. But I did it. Slowly, I put the pieces of my life back together. And my children grew up. And I have never been hit again. I did it, and so can you.

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

There is a great deal that has to happen if we are ever to end violence against women. We have to elect more women to public office. We have to pass the Equal Pay Act. We have to change the cultural bias against women. We have to change our educational system so that girls are not disadvantaged. We have to involve non-offending men in a supportive role to our efforts. But most importantly, we survivors need to keep telling our stories. We cannot allow our voices to be silenced. People need to hear that we are here, that we have suffered and that we have overcome.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because of how vital I think victim and survivor stories are to the movement to end violence against women.  Projects that put survivors and victims front-and-centre are doing the best work possible.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Michelle Jones, 25, 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 fifteenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Michelle Jones 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:

Michelle B. Jones is a writer and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. She uses her blog, refuge2224.blogspot.com, to document her journey of four years. She also uses it as an outlet for other survivors to share their stories anonymously for their voices to be heard, without the backlash of victim blaming. She is also active with public speaking to stop violence against women.  She loves spending her down time with her rescue corgi mix, Mia. They go to the dog park, go shopping at Petco, or just play on the farm! She also loves spending time with her family members. Call of duty with her nephew, yoga with her niece, nonstop laughter with her sister and quality talks with her mother are a few of her favorite things.  You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (Shelly_Bean89) and Instagram (Michellebrooke89). 

IMG_77801. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was raped/sexually assaulted while I was unconscious. I had been talking to the man who did this to me a few months prior to the attack, and had told him that for us to work we would have to take things slow. So, he took matters into his own hands, and took advantage of a situation – while I was passed out from drinking too much he sexually assaulted me.

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

When I came too, I had this man on top of me, violating me. I was frozen and couldn’t move. I was in shock. Someone I thought I could trust was doing the unthinkable to me and I was terrified. At that moment, I knew that everything I thought I knew of this man was a lie and I had no idea what kind of person he was.

Every scenario flashed through my head, I didn’t know what he would do if I put up a fight and he was twice my size. So I thought, “Maybe if he realises that I am coming too, he will stop.” And that is exactly what he did.

He stumbled off me, and pretended to just be cuddling me. He was not expecting me to come too while he was doing this to me. I played dumb and sick, until he finally offered to take me home. After that I texted him and told him that I knew what he had done, and to stay away from me. He openly admitted to it, and apologised.

Word spread and story after story came up of him doing this and much worse to other girls. So I pressed charges. After that, his frat brothers messed with my car, messed with my apartment, and ran me out of town. I moved to a town where I didn’t know another person and continued to spiral out of control.

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

After I moved I started drinking every day and refused any help. The court hearings lasted about a year. I took the stand numerous times, where I was made to feel like a whore, like I had asked for it. I was defending myself when I was not the one on trial. Our government spends so much time with the “innocent until proven guilty” thing that they make the victim feel like the guilty one for speaking up. This worsened my depression.

I gained a lot of weight and really didn’t care if I woke up each morning. It took my mother breaking down to me and telling me that her daughter’s rapist had taken her smile away, had taken her daughter away. I knew then that I couldn’t keep doing this to myself and my loved ones. I was slowly killing myself.

So, I started off with baby steps. I read books and listened to music that helped me cope. Then I finally got into counselling. I started blogging about my journey. Every feeling I had and every situation I went through, and without realising it at the time, I had started to inspire others. Other survivors came to me with their stories, in search of their own voices. So I gave them an outlet for one. They wrote out their stories and any feelings they had, in their own words anonymously. They had no one to victim blame them and had a chance to be comfortable.

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

I would tell them to express what they are feeling. Find a comfortable way, whether it is counselling, through art, writing, or just talking about it with loved ones. I truly believe that getting back your voice after trauma is a huge step in the healing process, it’s what saved me.

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

Acknowledging that it is happening. Instead of pointing at it and saying “this is what it is and this is what it is doing” our society takes the easy route, and that mostly consists of blaming the victim. Women throughout history have fought countless times to have the same freedom as men do. But once someone takes the one thing that we have fought so hard to get – our voices – the damage that does can be catastrophic. Our laws and our society as a whole should be helping women when they feel lost, not kicking them when they are down.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because you all are striving to raise awareness for women who struggle more than most people will ever realise.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Kerry Fagiolo, 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 fourteenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Kerry Fagiolo from the U.S.A.

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:

My name is Kerry and I am a survivor. I am a mother of two children and am very happily married to my best friend Anthony whom had I found courage through meeting, along with my church. I have been a registered nurse for almost 25 years and worked full time up until the time of my injury.  After 22 hours of surgery and years of rehab both mentally & physically, I am ready to educate and help others understand that Domestic Violence does not discriminate. It is an extremely uncomfortable topic for many victims but more so for support people such as family and friends. I got away…but not without battle wounds.

IMG_14181. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

My experience with Domestic Violence included mental, physical, verbal and sexual manipulation and abuse by a male that I had worked with at a hospital for over nine years.

He “took me in” when I was going through a divorce and used my situation as an opportunity to increase his bank account as well as provide him with a live-in babysitter. I was slammed against a shelf in a closet by him and sustained a broken back. This was one of many abusive outbursts by this person during the short time we were together. He was verbally, mentally, sexually and physically abusive to me. He was an opportunist with a history of seeking newly divorced females (per court records).

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

This relationship finally came to a halt when I moved out of the home and hid in a safe house for six weeks.

I was punched in the face by him directly in front of my daughter and his son, something that had never occurred in front of others. He realised that he made a grave mistake because both kids were able to share the story. When he went to work at six the next morning, I rented a Uhaul, packed up as many of my belongings as I could, and went to a home that he was unaware existed.

I refused to share my whereabouts with him (although he tried for six weeks to follow me and find where I was staying). Ultimately, he found me and the stalking began. There was a great deal of police and legal involvement which finally resulted in his arrest for stalking and breaking a restraining order.

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

I am still rebuilding my life. The mental scars are deeper than the physical scars. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and night terrors. I have a counsellor that I continue to see. I got very involved in my church and attended a meeting for battered women.

It is very hard to rebuild when most people (family and friends) do not want to speak about it. I think if they were aware/educated more about Domestic Violence they would help me heal more.

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

I would suggest that any single female who is going to date a man do a background check on them first. If I had done so, I would have seen the long list of restraining orders against him as well as arrest records.

I would also encourage people to listen to their instincts. If it does not seem or feel right, it isn’t.

Lastly, never allow yourself to become isolated from family, friends or work peers. A huge tactic of abusers is isolation.

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

Educate, educate, educate.  Share testimonies of survivors face-to-face with young middle school and high schoolers. I believe that the abusers do not just become abusers – I feel the patterns are there from a young age and can be recognised very early on in life by teachers, parents and friends.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because the more the community is saturated with education and real life stories of struggles and survival, the more aware and proactive in prevention we as a community will become!

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Joy Lyn, 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 thirteenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Joy Lyn from the U.S.A.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

In her day job, Joy K. Dennis is an educator. She teaches college level writing and middle school language arts. She does freelance proofreading, editing, public-speaking and consulting. She enjoys her work because it permits her to serve others with her gifts. She is a devoted reader of memoir and self-help books. She is an advocate of domestic violence awareness through public-speaking and writing. Her blog One Day at a Time  is designed to encourage survivors and victims and to inform them as well as others about domestic violence. Joy has always loved words, language and expression. Constant reading and regular writing have been a great help in healing her from the scars of a troubled past. She will be releasing a memoir titled Tears of Joy with the pen name Joy Lyn in honor of her late parents Carolyn and Ronald Lynn Dennis.

Joy Lyn_croppedcom1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I experienced domestic violence in my first serious relationship. He choked me, dragged me across the floor of our apartment by my hair, slammed me against a wall repeatedly while I was in the first trimester of a pregnancy, berated me with words and cheated on me, amongst other things. He also dictated what I should wear and how; which of my friends were okay to hang out with and which ones were not; and even when I could see my family.

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

After one particular incident when he abused me I was so frightened I went to the police and told them I felt unsafe with him and finally decided I wanted a restraining order.

They took a statement then arranged for me to speak with a case worker.   She was very kind and non-judgmental. She listened carefully to everything I said and told me I was being abused. She told me I needed to leave because it was a vicious cycle that would not stop. Until that moment I had no idea what I was experiencing was abuse. Knowledge was my first step in leaving.

After that, I told my family and they helped me remove myself from him. It was not easy or possible without the loving and kind support of others. I did not tell him I was going. He always used whatever he knew in advance against me. I just made arrangements to leave and one weekend I moved out unannounced.

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

When I was finally free of his physical presence I was wounded. I was unable to cry for a whole year about all the terrible stuff I had been through. During and after the year I left him, I could not really function. The second year after leaving him I started going to therapists which helped.

Later I joined a domestic violence group through the local battered woman’s shelter programme. It was so healing to meet other survivors and sufferers and to exchange our stories and encouragement with each other. That started me on a path to self-help that I have remained on. I also read inspiring material as much as I can. The book “Encouragements for the Emotionally Abused Woman” by Beverley Engel, changed my life in a positive way.

When I could find the words, prayer helped me alot. Most of all, my connection to the Divine Source kept me alive.

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

I would suggest that she do everything possible to preserve herself. There are so many resources. I know from experience when you are living in that personal hell you feel so alone, but you are not.

Do not be ashamed to get help. There are shelters, programmes and even housing to support and protect you. Once you and your kids are safe, then work on restoring yourself, building yourself up. In surviving an abusive situation, you are fortunate, but few of us are whole. I was broken when I escaped. I was just a shell of my former self, and maybe that’s what you feel like too. But guess what? You can be filled up again. No longer with heartache, low self-esteem and mistreatment but with respect, care and love.

Maya Angelou once said, “Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” Don’t just survive, thrive.

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

I think we can end violence against women by ending violence against children. All abusers were children once. Children who experienced or saw or felt something that triggered abusive behavior in them. Children are innocent and they shape the future. Every victim and survivor were children once. They experienced or saw or felt something that made them vulnerable to domestic violence. We have to nurture and guide and provide for all children, for they hold the key to the future.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it seeks to help others in a cause that is near and dear to my heart. My mother and maternal aunts were abused by men, and so was my grandmother and my great-grandmother. Not only is domestic violence a cycle in relationships, it is a cycle in time. Generations of women in my family have known nothing else. I want to break the cycle in my family and help other women do the same.

Another reason I support The Pixel Project is because there is an element of shame in domestic violence. So many victims don’t speak up. So many survivors do not come forward. Having a voice is empowering. When you are abused you are often robbed of the power of your voice. The Pixel Project gives us a voice.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2015: Twahna P. Harris, 45, 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 seventh 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Twahna P. Harris from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Twahna P Harris is the Executive Director of The Butterfly Society, a nonprofit domestic violence organization. The organization was given life through her own personal journey as a victim and survivor. She is a public speaker, mentor, advocate, wife, mother and a woman of God.  She is recognised on a local and state level for the work she does with victims and survivors. She empowers victims and survivors to TAKE BACK their lives because there is LIFE after domestic violence. She is living proof. She stands strong. “Like a butterfly, I have been reborn with bold colors and strong wings”   Johnathan Lockwood Haie. Her hobbies are meditation time, volunteering in the community, exercising, and writing.

Twahna P Harris CroppedCom1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

My personal experience is with domestic violence, and it has been a journey.

I was a student when I met this guy  handsome, said all the right things, had a great job and drove a really nice car — who swept me off of my feet. We went on a couple of dates and decided to become a couple. When we moved in together everything changed. He was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused. I quit going to class because I was embarrassed and I didn’t want to have to answer the hard questions. My grades suffered tremendously. I flunked out of school.  My mind wasn’t there anymore.

I left several times but I went back because I felt guilty for leaving him. He threatened to kill me if I ever left again. I saw myself in a dream dying at his hands. I was in a very dark place in my life (depressed). One day, I picked up the phone  made a call to the local Battered Women Shelter. The lady that answered the call was very kind, caring, and welcoming. I told her that he threatened to kill me but I wasn’t ready to leave. Her words to me were: “If he tells you he is going to kill you then he will do just that”. She told me I needed to get a safety  plan in place for when I decided to leave.

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

The safety plan came into play the next day after I had a conversation with God the night before. I asked Him to remove me from the situation. I made a commitment to Him to never allow another man to treat that way again, to never move in with another man unless he was my husband, and I would use my voice to help education others about domestic violence.

The next day I got dress for work like a normal day. Gave him a kiss goodbye, told him to have a great day. When I left, I hid behind an abandoned building and watched him leave. Then I went back to the apartment and took everything I could possibly take. What I couldn’t take I left behind. I NEVER went back. That chapter of my life had been written. It was time to start on a new chapter.

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

I remembered I had dreams and goals that I had to accomplish for myself. Nothing was going to stop me.

I met a great man who believed in me, supported me and loved me unconditionally. I enrolled in a Community College (BRCC) to get reengaged with school again. I had a great support system (my professors) who believed in me and wanted me to achieve success. I graduated from Baton Rouge Community College in May 2003 and enrolled at Southern University where it all began. I had an awesome support system there as well. The professors encouraged me every step of the way and I graduated from Southern University Summer 2008.

I did a lot of writing in a daily journal that helped me to heal as well. I gained strength daily through Bible verses, poems, quotes, newspapers etc. I found myself sharing my story many times in small settings.

I had also shared my story with my sorority sisters. They were in total disbelief. I made it perfectly clear to them that domestic violence didn’t have a certain face. My sorority hosted a Domestic Violence Forum and I was asked to be a guest speaker. I hesitated because I had never shared my story to a public audience before. I told them I had to pray about it. A small voice within (God) reminded me of the commitment I had made to Him. That night I shared my story to an audience of a 100 young ladies. I was so, so nervous. At the end of the programme, I was standing in the back of the room when 5 young ladies came up to me to thank me for sharing my story. They were in domestic violence situations themselves or they knew someone who was. They were eager to share the information they had received. I knew then that my story was no longer mine but for someone else to help save a life and I have been doing the work of an advocate ever since.

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

The very first thing I would share with the victim is that you are not to blame and you are not the problem. God created you with life, value, and purpose. You don’t have to go through this alone. Let someone know what you are going through a friend, family member, co-worker, or a domestic violence shelter. There is a voice in all of us. Find yours. It’s there. You will be told to leave many times but it’s when you have a safety plan in place that you do get ready to leave. I call it “WHEN THE LIGHT COMES ON.” “THERE IS LIFE AFTER DOMESTC VIOLENCE.” I’m living proof….

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

We can end domestic violence through education, outreach, advocacy, support group and partnerships etc. We also have to make domestic violence a part of our conversation just like any other issue that’s a crisis. That way people are always reminder that domestic violence is real. Everyone has to be included in the movement law enforcement, churches, the school system, judges, health care services, communities, business leaders, advocates, survivors etc.

NO MORE SILENCE! WE WILL END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project is a great nonprofit proving opportunities for victims or survivors to share their stories as a way of healing, a way to empower, a way to inspire, and a new way to live life. We need more projects of this magnitude in place. This is a way that victims and survivors can build a community of support for one another. It is a great resource as well. I thank you for the opportunity for allowing me to share my story with you. I hope and pray that it will be empowering for others.

Win A Chance To Hang Out Live on Google Hangouts with Award-winning Author, Jacqueline Carey

Google Hangout Event Cover - Jacqueline Carey-01_FINAL

The Pixel Project and Jacqueline Carey, the award-winning author of the “Kushiel’s Legacy” trilogy, are proud to present a virtual charity raffle to raise funds for The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign and to give ONE (1) lucky fan a chance to win:

  • An opportunity to join the Q&A segment of Jacqueline’s upcoming live Google Hangout Session to ask Jacqueline two (2) questions live over video.
  • An autographed hardcover copy of Jacqueline’s novel, Dark Currents. (Learn more about Dark Currents here and check out the first chapter here.)

The raffle will run from 12.00am EST Friday 14 March 2014 – 11.59pm EST Friday 21 March 2014.

The winner will be announced by Jacqueline on her Facebook page on Monday 23 March 2014.

The Google Hangout will be livestreamed at 8.30pm EST, 28 March 2014 via the following channels:

How To Enter in 3 Easy Steps:

Step 1:

Donate the minimum  of US$10 (or more if you wish) to reveal pixels on The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign.

You have a choice of 2 different pages where you can make this donation:

You will receive an automatic e-receipt from Razoo, the online donation processing provider for the campaign.

Step 2:

Forward this donation e-receipt to us at pixelprojectteam@gmail.com or info@thepixelproject.net with:

  • Your name and “Jacqueline Carey Google Hangout” in the email subject line. (For example: Jacqueline Carey Google Hangout – Jane Smith)
  • Your full name and Gmail email address in the email body.

All participants must do this because just donating does not mean you have automatically been entered into the raffle.

Step 3:

The Pixel Project team will put all participants’ names in a hat and pick out the winner’s name at random.

Once Jacqueline has announced the winner’s name on her Facebook page, The Pixel Project team will be in touch with the winner to make arrangements for the Google Hangout appearance and to collect his/her mailing address so Jacqueline will be able to mail the signed hardcover copy of Dark Currents to him/her.

Dark CurrentsTerms and Conditions of the Raffle:
  1. To make it a fair and truly random pick, each person can only enter ONCE.
  2. The forwarded donation e-receipt must reach The Pixel Project BEFORE 11.59PM EST Friday 21 March. Receipts that reach us after that time will not be entered into the raffle.
  3. It is the winner’s responsibility to ensure that they can attend the Google Hangout including having their own Google+/Gmail account, clearing their own schedule for it, and making sure that they have a good internet connection and a working webcam/mic. If the winner does not show up or cannot show up at the last minute, there will be no replacement prize.
  4. The winner will only be added to the call once the Q&A session has begun and can ask a maximum of 2 questions to be fair to everyone else who will be typing in their questions.
  5. The e-receipts are only tax-exempt in the United States as The Pixel Project is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit.

Additional Information:

 

The Celebrity Male Role Model Campaign: Ending Violence Against Women, One Pixel At A Time

8 MARCH 2014 (WORLDWIDE): The Pixel Project is proud to launch the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign  on International Women’s Day (8 March 2014). This campaign aims to raise US$1 million in aid of the U.S.A.’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org) and The Pixel Project while highlighting the important role men and boys play in stopping Violence Against Women (VAW). The campaign will launch with a series of live Google Hangouts featuring prominent anti-VAW activists and popular authors.

The Pixel Reveal campaign rallies the global audience to collectively unveil an online million-pixel mystery collage of world-exclusive celebrity male role model portraits by donating US$1 per pixel. Each donation triggers the automatic reveal of the equivalent number of pixels. For example, a $10 donation will trigger the reveal of 10 pixels. As more pixels are revealed, the cover picture will fade out to uncover the portraits underneath it. When a celebrity male role model is revealed, an exclusive anti-VAW public service announcement from him will be launched. The distinguished line-up includes a Nobel Laureate, a two-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and superstar Environmentalist; and their portraits are taken by award-winning international photographer, Jillian Edelstein. Donations start at as little as $10.

Through the Pixel Reveal campaign, The Pixel Project is working to accelerate a major paradigm change that is crucial for efforts to end VAW by highlighting positive male role models to inspire men and boys to join the anti-VAW movement. VAW has always been stereotyped as a ‘women’s issue’. In reality, it is a human rights issue that impacts families and communities. Men may be the majority of perpetrators of VAW, but good, non-violent men far outnumber them and have largely remained silent on the issue. For VAW to end, these men need to be involved in efforts to end the violence. The Pixel Reveal campaign intends to do just that by triggering conversations about VAW worldwide and inspiring men and boys to take action to stop VAW in their communities.

reveal-google-hangouts-2014-slide1To launch the campaign, a special series of live Google Hangouts will be held between 8 – 31 March 2014 to kick-start conversations about VAW and to encourage donations in support of the campaign. Anti-VAW activist speakers taking part include UN Women, The Pixel Project, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the White Ribbon Campaign, Stop Street Harassment, renowned feminist activists and writers Jaclyn Friedman and Soraya Chemaly, a panel of smartphone safety app experts (Circle of 6, PFO tech) and a panel of documentary filmmakers who focus on the issue of VAW (Evan Grae Davis, Lisa F. Jackson). The bestselling and award-winning authors doing readings with Q&A sessions in support of the campaign include Cornelia Funke, Isaac Marion, Jacqueline Carey, and Kelley Armstrong.

Regina Yau, Founder and President of The Pixel Project, said: “Violence against women is one of the most widespread and entrenched human rights violations in the world and The Pixel Project is delighted that our world-famous male role models, fellow activists, allies, and acclaimed authors have stepped up to join us in raising much-needed funds and widespread support for this cause. Violence against women has long been seen as a women’s issue instead of the community and cultural issue that it is, and we hope this campaign will change this by galvanising men and boys to join the cause.”

Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said: The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign is an amazing and creative idea to help us engage more male allies, share information across the globe to those in need, and connect with activists around the world working to end violence against women. We must join together if we ever hope to reduce these kinds of crimes, and we are thrilled to be partnering with The Pixel Project on this journey.

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For further information, please contact:

Regina Yau – The Pixel Project:

Rita Smith – National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

About The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net)

Pixel Project ThumbnailThe Pixel Project is a complete virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 non-profit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using the power of the internet, social media, new technologies and popular culture/the arts. Their flagship campaign, the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, aims to raise US$1 million for the U.S.A.’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project by getting a global audience to collectively unveil a million-pixel mystery collage of Celebrity Male Role Models at US$1 per pixel.

 

About the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (www.ncadv.org)

NCADV-logoartThe mission of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is to organise for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and individuals working to end the violence in our lives. The survivor led and survivor focused National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has worked for more than thirty-five years to end violence against women by raising awareness and educating the public about the effects of domestic abuse. Our work includes developing and sustaining ground-breaking public policy at the national level aimed at ending violence; assisting the 2,000+ urban and rural shelters and programs at the local, state, and regional levels of the nation in the programming they offer to victims seeking safety and assistance; and offering programming that empowers and supports the long-term health and safety of victims of domestic violence. Currently, our constituency encompasses more than 70,000 programs, survivors, advocates, and allied individuals and is growing daily.  Learn more about us at: www.ncadv.org.

CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Get Ready to Count Down with The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” Project

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Get ready to count down to the launch of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign on International Women’s Day with 30 songs by 30 artistes from 5 countries.

24 January 2014, WORLDWIDE: The Pixel Project, the virtual volunteer-led 501(c)3 non-profit working to end Violence Against Women (VAW) worldwide, will be launching the “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” (30/30/30) project on 6 February 2014. 30/30/30 is a month-long online positive music marathon featuring 30 artistes from 5 countries (Barbados, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA) saying NO to VAW with their music, including YouTube stars AHMIR, AJ Rafael, and Macy Kate. One new artiste will be highlighted each day to the global audience with his or her song available for free downloading and/or as a YouTube music video for 24 hours only via http://reveal.thepixelproject.net. The project will run from 6 February 2014 until 7 March 2014.

30/30/30 is part of The Pixel Project’s Music For Pixels program, and will count down the final 30 days to the launch of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign on International Women’s Day 2014 (8 March 2014). The Pixel Reveal campaign aims to raise US$1 million in aid of the U.S.’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project by inspiring the global audience to collectively reveal a million-pixel collage of mystery Celebrity Male Role Model portraits online by donating US$1 per pixel. The distinguished line-up of mystery Celebrity Male Role Models includes a Nobel Laureate, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, and a superstar Environmentalist.

Regina Yau, Founder and President of The Pixel Project, said: “We decided to count down to the launch of the Pixel Reveal campaign with a song a day because music is a potent force for spreading ideas for change. With 30 songs covering themes including women’s empowerment, compassion, and courage, we hope that 30/30/30 will not only get everyone excited about the upcoming Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign, but will also be a powerful counterpoint to the misogyny and violence expressed through today’s popular music. We look forward to doing so with the support of the 30/30/30 artistes, our YouTube Music Ambassador, AHMIR; and our music partner, the Positive Music Association.”

Scott Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of the Positive Music Association, said: ““The Positive Music Association is happy to be part of the Pixel Project’s 30/30/30 project, using the international language of music to inspire positive change in how people treat girls and women around the world.”

AHMIR, whose brand-new anti-VAW music video PSA is set to kick off the campaign, said: “”We are once again honoured and proud to be joining 29 other artistes including our friend AJ Rafael for The Pixel Project’s 30/30/30 project which we feel is going to be a powerful way to bring musical energy from all over the world to send a message of strength and resiliency to all women and girls.”

The 30/30/30 artistes are: Adam Web, AHMIR, AJ Rafael, Ali Handal, Andrew Allen (Canada), Bob Sima, Courtney Jenae, Darius Lux, Debbie Reifer (Barbados), Delaney Gibson, Diverse Attentions (Singapore), Ellen Bukstel, Ellis, Faith Rivera, Jana Stanfield, Katie Hull, Kevin Mileski, Laura Berman, Lisa Bell, Macy Kate, Mary Sholz, Narmi (Malaysia), Pete Ahonen, Scott Johnson, Shane Cooley and Paulo Franco, Teri Rambo, ToRi-LyNN, and Troy Horne.

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For further information, please contact:
Regina Yau or Maria Del Rio – 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 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 Music For Pixels (http://music4pixels.thepixelproject.net)

Music For Pixels, a campaign by The Pixel Project, is the first music-based social media campaign to exclusively collaborate with YouTube artistes and rising stars speaking up to prevent and stop VAW through music video PSAs while raising funds for the cause via digital music downloads. All funds raised from song proceeds donated by artistes will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-VAW projects, campaigns and initiatives.

About AHMIR (www.youtube.com/ahmirTV)  

Featured on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Us Weekly, FUSE, and Billboard, AHMIR is the #1 Most Popular R&B Group on YouTube with over 75 million video views and comments by celebrities such as Ryan Seacrest, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and more.  Yahoo! listed them as the “Top 5 YouTube Cover Artists:  The Best Acts You Should Be Listening To Today.” The group has used their success to support several charity organizations including The Pixel Project, Lucy’s Love Bus, and the American Cancer Society. Their cover video of P!nk’s “Perfect” was named one of the top Anti-Bullying PSA’s by The Huffington Post. AHMIR is signed to Robbins Entertainment and have recently released their debut single entitled “WAR” to Top 40 radio nationwide.

About the Positive Music Association (http://www.PositiveMusicAssociation.com)

The Positive Music Association is an international membership organisation dedicated to promoting Positive music artists and Positive music as a distinct genre of music. Positive music is defined as lyric-based songs with universal, life-affirming messages. Positive music can inspire, heal, uplift, empower, energize, unite and enlighten as we create and awaken to a more peaceful, sustainable and healthy world that works for everyone. Founded in 2003, the PMA has over 350 members in over 12 countries and growing. For more information, contact Scott@PositiveMusicAssociation.com.