Posts tagged Rape

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Cassandra Pullman, 20, United Kingdom

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 21st Survivor Stories interview is with Cassandra Pullman from the United Kingdom.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

My name is Cassandra Pullman and I am a survivor. I am also a proud care leaver from England but I now currently live in Scotland. I am 20 years old and I am currently a college student, hoping to go into Psychology and Social Work. I really want to do talks to speak out and help others who have been abused in any way. I am currently in the starting stages of writing a book on my abuse and about my recovery. My hobbies/interests are reading crime fiction and survivor stories. I enjoy helping others out with problems such as mental health and abuse. I enjoy country walks and camping outdoors in the forest and surrounding areas.

 

cassandra-pullman1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was severely sexually, physically and mentally abused and neglected by my parents as a child. My parents were very aggressive and violent towards me.

My first memory of the abuse was after my first birthday when my father first sexually assaulted me and when my mother first beat me up. Between the ages of 1 and 5 my father would rape me (with his hands and objects) whenever he could and my mother would stand by and encourage him. When I was 6 my father raped me (with his genitals) and continued to do so until I was 12. The reason he stopped was because my mother told him I had started my period. My mother was equally as evil, causing physical/mental harm and neglect throughout my life for as long as I can remember.

They never cared nor did they ever love me. I was an unloved child, who was like discarded trash that never quite made it to the bin. They would do unspeakable things to me that would haunt me for most of my childhood. I would sometimes wear makeup to school to hide the bruises. I also used to run away and self-harm. I believed that happiness was a day without pain and torture.

 

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

I escaped first by running away from my parents and then from the school. When that didn’t work I would self-harm. At first it was for myself but then I realised the school was finally taking me seriously.

I told my school about the abuse I suffered at home but never in full detail. Eventually social services got involved – when I was 15 I finally had the courage to tell social services what was happening at home but even then I was scared to tell them everything and to this day I still am.

After I showed and proved there was significant risk I was able to place myself in care at the age of 13 with the aid of my wonderful social worker and solicitor.

 

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

I underwent a variety of therapies as a child: I had CBT from CAMHS aged 11-12 and then at 16. What helped was learning about other survivors, hearing their stories and igniting myself to do the same. I learned so much about myself which I can put into practice to aid my recovery.

Helplines were also an amazing resource because if I ever needed someone I would pick one at random and call to talk about my past, present and the future.

Truth be told, there is no one who knows the full story of my childhood. So one aspect that will help heal and rebuild my life is when I finish writing my book and it is published. Then I can tell every single detail of my story.

With my recovery, I am now able to live the life that I want to have, I am able to change my life, change my fate and change my story. I can do what I want with my life without living in fear of my horrendous past. I can now move on and forward and conquer anything.

 

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

Don’t blame yourself – The abuse you suffered was never your fault, not now and not ever. Whatever the reasons for the violence or abuse, it will never be justified.

I would also suggest that you speak out to get help, no matter who your abuser is or what the circumstances are; find people, contact helplines and speak to the police.

Finally, it’s important to share your experiences with someone you trust who will be there for you, listen and give you the right support. It can be daunting and it will be scary but if you keep it bottled up you will eventually explode and that explosion will not just be deadly for you but for others around you. Talking about what has happened to you can make an enormous difference and can feel like a great weight has been lifted from you.

 

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

We can end violence against women by destroying the stigma and the taboo that surrounds it and also by stopping victim shaming. Education is key – teaching, telling, speaking, blogging, writing, shouting and reading are the best ways to show and explain what violence and abuse is and what we can all do to eradicate it.

Society needs to stop ignoring this epidemic and and to take action including:

  • Providing an advocate for victims who have not found their voice.
  • Having localised support in place as well as significant national and international resources will help a great deal.
  • Providing more helplines, posters on public transport and people doing talks in educational families.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because:

  • They help women who have suffered from different types of abuse from all over the world and I too want to end violence.
  • They provide a wealth of information about violence against women to learn, engage and share with others.
  • They help and show others that victims are not alone and that one day not only will they be a survivor but also a warrior.
  • They have “The Men’s Room” which engages with men to help end the violence towards women. It truly shows there is no sexism and allows men to be involved.

I also what to say thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity to share my story through the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project. Not only will Survivor Stories engage and help others, it gives survivors an immensely powerful voice. This will change and empower other women all around the world.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Giovanna Ibarra, 31, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 20th Survivor Stories interview is with Giovanna Ibarra from the USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

Giovanna Ibarra is an organiser and writer with over five years of experience in management and coordination of creative campaigns and communications for nongovernmental organisations. She is a survivor of rape and domestic violence who turned her experience into creative campaigns involving music, poetry and art aimed at raising awareness about crimes against humanity, human trafficking, modern day slavery, and violence against women. She has recently been doing victim and survivor advocacy in Mexico.

 

gia-ibarra-31. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

As a child, I was molested – first by a neighbour, later by close family members. When I decided to speak up about each of these incidents, I was not believed, and was told not to mention the events again.

In my late teens, the night my boyfriend raped me at knifepoint was when the coercion, manipulation and daily abuse began. His violent rage perpetuated regular incidents of physical, mental and emotional abuse, torture and rape which ended with me landing in the ER three years later. The police reported the gun he used to attack me was never found in the vehicle – they said I imagined the weapon.

I attended his sentencing on my own. The threats he made by phone were not counted against him during his trial. He was ultimately sentenced to only two-and-a-half years instead of ten through twenty five years for kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault with a weapon.

As I walked out of the court room that morning, an officer said to me: “You’re one of the lucky ones, you should be grateful even for a short sentence.” It took me many years to understand what he meant.

 

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

My abuser wanted to end both our lives through murder-suicide. However, he passed out in the driver’s seat from a heavy drug and alcohol overdose. I managed to sneak out of the car and call the police. Most of the officers who turned up did not believe me but one officer realised that I had been raped, was pregnant and had begun to bleed internally. That officer drove me to the nearest ER. “He saved your life,” the doctors at the ER said. ‘Had you arrived just thirty minutes later, you would have both died.”

After that my abuser was jailed, I was eventually forced to move to California on short notice, leaving behind everything and everyone I knew in Texas due to continued threats to myself and my family, including what could have been another attempted kidnapping. The officer investigating the case was unable to locate the van the kidnappers used and recommended that I move out of the state for my own safety.

 

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

Initially I was in denial and shock. As time went by, I began to fall into a severe depression and dissociation as a way to cope with everything. Then I met the late Steve Graham, the founder of ACT (Against Child Trafficking), who taught me that we can turn our suffering into positive action. Giving back to society, faith in God and music sustained and healed me. The support of my family and close friends helped me to slowly rebuild my life.

I also became my own victim advocate after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice refused to grant a new restraining order that could be used in California if needed. They said I was on my own and in charge of my own safety. My advocacy led to several months’ extension of my abuser’s prison term in addition to receiving an apology over the phone from the director of deportations at the Texas/Mexico border for not having checked for prior incidents of violence committed by my abuser. Their mistake could have cost me my life.

I have since found ways to help others through creative advocacy.

 

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

To young women who are dating someone who they feel unsafe with: Listen to your intuition and leave the relationship before it gets violent because it often does.

To the women already in a manipulative or coercive and violent relationship: Ask for help immediately. Remove yourself from the relationship, from the environment you are currently living in, and place distance between yourself and the abuser. Don’t be afraid to let go and never look back.

Educate yourself about abuse. The mistake I made was my lack of education and awareness about the issue. The Pixel Project offers more information on the signs of an abusive relationship and ways to escape and receive support.

 

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

Ending violence against women is a cycle that requires understanding that women and girls have the right to life, health, education and basic life skills, mentoring and support.

The real work begins at home, in schools, and the community to educate young boys and girls to respect and value one another. We need to teach at-risk girls and women about the signs of an abusive relationship in schools, at the local clinics they attend, and wherever they may otherwise be able to receive support.

We also need better training for police and first responders that still believe that a woman needs to look abused or display certain signs in order to receive support in order for an arrest to be made.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project provides women and girls worldwide with access to vital life-saving online resources and information. I myself learned about coercion and domestic violence through the Pixel Project’s website.

Their founder Regina Yau and all-volunteer team have supported my healing journey through their online activism campaigns to educate the public about violence against women while providing positive and empowering messages for millions of survivors. I have also volunteered with Pixel Project to support their Music for Pixels campaigns.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Chantel Plautz, 45, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 12th  Survivor Stories interview is with Chantel Plautz from the USA.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first Q&A in this interview may be distressing for some Rape, Sexual Assault, and Child Sexual Abuse survivors.

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The Survivor Bio:

Chantel Plautz is a child of the Living God and a survivor of multiple-instance sexual assault, rape, and child sexual abuse. She serves on the mission field in KS, MO, and NE (USA) as an abolitionist missionary, a Christian Counselor, and an advocate for victims of human sex trafficking, sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Chantel is the CEO and Founder of Hope For The Soul Ministries. She is also a trained Stephen Minister and Stephen Ministry Leader, holds a certificate in Christian (Biblical) Counseling from Light University Online, and is a member of American Association of Christian Counselors and Women Speakers Association. Chantel was born in Denver, CO, and grew up in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas. When she is not mentoring, counseling, ministering, speaking, preaching, teaching or writing, Chantel enjoys reading, going on nature hikes, making jewelry, watching football, spending time with her family and friends, and celebrating and supporting her four amazing godchildren—Jocelyn, Jaeden, Lucas and Riley.

 

chantel-plautz_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I am a survivor of multiple-instance sexual assault and child sexual abuse, which occurred throughout an over 20-year period of my life, at the hands of multiple perpetrators — male and female. All were people I knew.

Between the ages of 6 and 12, I endured repeated sexual abuse, as well as exposure to pornography and sexually compromising situations.

At the age of 16, I was sexually assaulted on multiple occasions and at the hands of one perpetrator. In hindsight, I realise this perpetrator groomed me. Following these instances of assault, I was made to feel as though the abuse was my fault.

Between the ages of 16 and 28, I was sexually assaulted by multiple perpetrators, exposed to pornography and strip clubs (in the early years), and subjected to sexually compromising situations, all through coercive and manipulative means.

At the age of 25, two people raped me. After work, I had been out to dinner with a group of friends, and I later woke up in the midst of sexual assault. I believe someone drugged me to the point that I did not know my whereabouts and, therefore, could not defend myself.

At the age of 28, someone I was dating exposed me to pornography in the midst of sexual assault.

 

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

The sexual assault and abuse stopped because I eventually moved to another state or town, I left the area I was in (as being there was only a temporary trip), I quit the job I was working at, I ended the relationship, or the perpetrator(s) moved away from where I was living at the time. In one particular instance, the abuse just stopped — I do not know why, but I am so thankful it did.

On the other hand, the memories and feelings related to each instance of assault and abuse haunted me — I could not manage to escape them. As a direct result of the abuse, I was confused and filled with false shame, blame, guilt, and self-doubt. For many years, I lived in constant fear, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex traumatic stress disorder (CTSD). Many different things triggered and exacerbated the deep-seated emotions and feelings I was experiencing. Over time, I became numb and completely gutted.

 

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

Sexual assault affected virtually every area of my life — relationships, educational endeavors, business pursuits. However, I was eventually able to find the courage to seek help, further my education, and start a new career.

September 2002 — I completed Stephen Ministry and Stephen Ministry Leadership training and began serving in volunteer ministry (until June 2013).

July-November 2011 — I received counselling through a local sexual assault center. I purged and reconciled related memories and feelings, created and maintained healthy boundaries, and climbed out of the deep, dark hole I had been in for a majority of my life. I established myself as an adult in the present dealing with the sexual assault and abuse of the past. With the help of Jesus, I have learned to love, trust and HOPE again — I have reached a point of healing and wholeness, forgiveness and reconciliation, peace and contentment.

May 2012 — I wrote an article, which was published in a sexual assault center newsletter.

June 2012 — I began serving in full-time ministry and missions.

March-October 2013 — I completed Christian (Biblical) Counselor training.

Presently — I am completing a book entitled My Joy Comes in the Morning: Finding Hope and Spiritual Healing from Sexual Assault and Child Sexual Abuse.

 

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

You are not alone in your suffering, and you are not required to suffer in silence. Share. Learn. Forgive. Release. Heal. It takes time to heal, but I encourage you to stay focused on bringing healing and wholeness to the broken and captive places inside of you.

I have found these activities to be very helpful in my own healing process:

  • Practicing various forms of art — jewellery-making, drawing, painting;
  • Taking long walks — in the park, in the woods, in the country;
  • Journaling — this allowed me to put a voice to the pain and suffering (in writing), which I then shared (aloud) with someone I could trust.

I want you to know that you are beautiful and precious, and you add value to this world. The sexual assault and abuse you endured is not your fault — you did not do anything to cause it. You were a victim, but you are a survivor. You deserve to love yourself and others, and for someone to love you, completely and without abuse of any kind. Healing from PTSD, CTSD, or anything else related to sexual assault or child sexual abuse is difficult, but it is entirely possible — I am living proof. Keep. Moving. Forward.

 

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

We need to educate everyone on the atrocity of sexual violence. I believe men and women need to have an active role in creating awareness. Additionally, we can petition lawmakers to pass laws and form public policy that punishes the perpetrators, not the victims — we will not allow actions without swift and significant consequences.

We need to advocate for victims and survivors, giving them a voice until they can find and use their own, and remind them that they are not alone in their suffering. We need to send the message that we will not tolerate violence against women or children — sexual or otherwise — anywhere, or at any time. One time is one time too many, and victims deserve to seek justice!

We need to focus on prevention. We need to teach our sons and daughters how to treat others, with love and respect and not as a commodity or a means through which one achieves selfish gratification. We need to love, not abuse, one another. We need to challenge the cultural norms, because when we find and address the source of false beliefs and ritualistic mindsets, we can achieve culture change and stop the insidious cycle of assault and abuse.

Together, we can make a difference!

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because they create awareness, encourage difficult conversations and advocate for victims of violence against women and girls. They also provide survivors with a safe, supportive online environment and platform from which to share their stories.

I especially appreciate their global focus to engage men and boys in the effort to end violence against women. By taking the message of intolerance for violence against women around the world, they are truly proving there are no social or cultural barriers when it comes to challenging expectations and inspiring change for women and girls of all ages, races and cultures.

Thank you, Pixel Project, for hosting the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project — you have given us a powerful voice! Through your international organisation, you are making a significant impact and positive difference in the lives of sexual and domestic violence survivors across the world. A lack of discussion desensitises people to the abuse that is going on around them. I pray that everyone will get involved in some way to help end all violence against women and girls.

If anyone reads even one of these survivor stories, it will be as abolitionist William Wilberforce once said: “you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Angela Giles Klocke, 41, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 11th  Survivor Stories interview is with Angela Giles Klocke from the 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:

I am a client advocate at a pregnancy centre where I use my experience as a teen mom and abuse/sexual assault/domestic violence survivor to help others. I have three grown-up children and three grandchildren (I’m only 41!) and have been remarried to a good man for 18 years. I share my story of my painful past and healing journey at Scars and Tiaras: Alive to Thrive (scarsandtiaras.com). I am a writer, speaker and photographer, and I love my everyday life in the mountains of Colorado.

 

angelagilesklocke1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

For as far back as I can remember, I have experienced different types of abuse:

As a young girl, I was a victim of abuse at the hands of my mother and stepfather. Later, I fought off an older brother’s attempted rape. Then I became the victim of molestation by a stepgrandfather.

As abuse continued in my life without justice, I fled my mother’s home as soon as I could, right into the arms of a boyfriend who became my first husband. He was my next and final abuser from the time I was 13 to 22, when he tried to kill me but died instead.

By the time I was 22, I felt used up and broke, worthless and stupid, hopeless.

 

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

When I tried to leave my abusive marriage, three children and too many years later, my ex-husband came after me with a gun.

Ultimately, he was killed instead. He had always said “till death do us part,” and he meant it. I just don’t think he meant for it to happen the way it did.

Some of his family blamed me for his death, so ultimately I had to remove myself from their influence as well.

 

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

I am still on my healing journey. For years following my freedom, I stuffed all my pain away. But 22 years of trauma eventually explodes, so I ended up with a breakthrough (as I call it) in 2012 that led me to counselling.

I now speak out and share my story openly with schools, groups, and one on one. I work with others as much as I can to assist their healing, and I find every single time we get to share our stories of hard places, we heal a little more.

Healing really IS a journey, and this year I found myself re-entering counselling to continue working through some of the pain that still sits in my heart.

 

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

I thought I was alone. I thought no one could help me. But even more today that 20 years ago, there are so many places available to help. I understand how hard it is to break away from an abusive situation, especially when a part of you really loves the person hurting you, but I also know we are worth so much more.

My ex-husband used to tell me that no one could ever love me the way he did – and he was right in many ways. I am re-married and my wonderful husband does not indeed love me the way my ex did, and that means I am happy and cared for and without bruises on my heart or body.

 

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

I truly believe that we all have the ability to step up and speak out. To shine a light into the darkness that is violence and abuse, to say we won’t take it, we won’t look the other way anymore.

When we stand together, when we stand for each other, we are powerful.

And when we open ourselves up to share, to help, we invite others in pain to start making new choices too.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because it does exactly what I just highlighted – stepping up and speaking out, shining light into the darkness, saying NO MORE!

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Charlaine Harris, 65, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 9th  Survivor Stories interview is with Charlaine Harris from the USA.

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The Survivor Bio:

Charlaine Harris was born in Mississippi and has lived all over the South. Her first book (SWEET AND DEADLY) appeared in 1981, and she’s been a working writer ever since. Charlaine writes in a variety of genres  mystery, urban fantasy, science fiction – because she is easily bored. When Charlaine isn’t writing, she’s reading. Her personal life is thronged with rescue dogs, a husband, three adult children, and two grandchildren. Her grandchildren are intelligent, gifted, and attractive. She now lives on a cliff overlooking the Brazos River. You can learn more about Charlaine and her books at www.charlaineharris.com.

 

headshot31. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was raped by a stranger who broke into my apartment. He put a pillow over my head and put a knife to my throat.

 

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

He left finally, after a while. I could not move for another while. I thought he was still there. When I became convinced he was gone, I called the police.

 

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

I went to the rape crisis centre and was assisted through the examination and questioning process. I had always understood that rape was in the picture for women, and I had thought about what I would do. So I was mentally prepared, as much as anyone can be. I was determined he would not win. I also changed the way I lived my life, because I understood the value of it after I almost died.

 

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

Never think that you deserved or provoked this. Do anything you must to survive the situation.

If you possibly can  I know it’s not an option for some women  report the  attack. Keeping it secret gives it power over you. And it implies that you feel ashamed or guilty. You should not be. The perpetrator is the one who should be ashamed.

 

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

We can’t. But we can reduce the frequency of attacks by educating our male and female children about what consent means, about when to stop unwanted advances, and about how to react when the situation gets out of control. Just acknowledging that it’s in the list of possibilities is a big step for a lot of women.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support any organisation that has education about violence against women and remediation as its goal.

Editor’s note: Watch Charlaine talk about strong women, surviving rape, and eradicating violence against women in our Read For Pixels Google Hangout recording below.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Torey Ivanic, 40, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 7th  Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Torey Ivanic from the USA.

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The Survivor Bio:

Torey is a mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, climber, skier, hiker, runner, and yogi at the core. She values fun, adventure, healing, growth, and truth.  Professionally, she has more than 10 years’ experience as a physician assistant in family practice using both traditional and homeopathic medicine, and she started her own homeopathic practice four years ago. She loves to help people to think differently and live better through one on one homeopathic treatment, small group masterminds, retreats, and speaking engagements.

 

torey-15-cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was the victim of gross sexual imposition at the age of 15 by my 30-year-old male gymnastics coach.

 

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

My abuser moved away.

 

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

I healed through playing in nature, doing yoga, skiing, climbing and finally seeing a therapist who had tons of experience in child protective services. His gentle guidance and acceptance of me as I was instrumental in my ability to get through it all.

15 years after the abuse, I reported it to the police. The case went to the State of Ohio’s prosecuting attorney who was on maternity leave since it was 15 years old and wasn’t a high priority. Once another report was made they brought the perpetrator in and questioned him. After he admitted his crimes they arrested him. He got out on bail and the prosecuting attorneys built their case against him. The trial date changed a bunch of times and that waiting game was torture; but the support we received from the victim/witness support office was fantastic.

He was ultimately convicted of multiple counts of rape and gross sexual imposition in 2008 and is currently in prison.

Five years after the trial was over I started my own business. I got married (the year after the trial) and started a family. These were things that I had been wanting in my life and just couldn’t seem to accomplish until dealing with this matter.

 

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

Own the truth of what is going on. You are not at fault. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to define anything about yourself by someone else’s actions.

I will also say: get help and support from friends and family:

  • My brother was supportive of what I was doing and had apparently told me to do it long before, but I guess at that time I wasn’t ready to hear it for what it truly was.
  • During the time when I went to the police, I leaned on one friend in particular. She actually had a similar story in her history but she did not see it as abuse at that time. She was amazing at simply holding space for me and letting me cry. I couldn’t stop talking about it because it was so much on the surface of me at that time.
  • I had also just started dating the man who is now my husband. He was extremely supportive and even came to be at my house when I made the tapped phone call to my perpetrator. He was gentle and kind and gave me all the time and space I needed to process and grieve and move forward. He is my rock.

 

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

Talk about it more! Talk about it a lot when there are obvious situations, and talk about it in the light of PREVENTING it.  Shine a HUGE light on the fact that it is RAMPANT in the world. It is far too acceptable and way too often swept under the rug.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support anything that works towards ending sexual violence. I submitted my story to The Pixel Project because I think we need to talk more openly and more often about the subject of sexual violence.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Lisa Foster, 46, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 6th  Survivor Stories interview, courtesy of parillume, is with Lisa Foster from the USA.

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The Survivor Bio:

I have been an entrepreneur, non-profit founder, public speaker, facilitator, and programme developer.  But my proudest accomplishment – along with raising my son – is my Hero’s Journey: my transformation from survivor to thriver after long-term childhood sexual abuse by my father.  I founded parillumeTM to empower victims of sexual violation to continue past the survivor stage and heroically reclaim the treasure of their trues selves shining in the world without shame.  To learn more, please see my recent TEDx talk, “Sexual Violation and The Invisible Hero” 

 

fb-profile-photo_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was sexually abused by my father, beginning at a very young age (2 years old) and continuing through my early elementary school years.

 

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

I didn’t escape.  I went to school every day and found solace there. I repressed all memories of the abuse until the age of 20, when I began to have flashbacks and confronted my father about abusing me.

He denied it, and I lost my entire family.  No one believed me, supported me, or helped me.  Instead, they accused me of being used by the devil to destroy the family.

Fortunately, within a few months, as a senior in college, at age 21, I got married and was able to leave the family.

 

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

Fortunately, in my new marriage, I had access to a wonderful therapist and began a three-year journey of intense healing.  I went to weekly therapy and support groups and did everything I could to feel and process my emotions: all the pain, sadness, rage, fear.

After that, I continued to heal for another twenty years through various modalities, both spiritual and secular.  I processed my PTSD through EMDR and participated in other powerful therapeutic work.  And I journaled nearly every day, prayed, and talked to safe people about my story.

After 21 years, I left my unhealthy marriage and for the last three years have been on the adventure of my life, finally accessing my truest self and authentically shining in my life.  I can finally say that I am whole and that I love myself.

 

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

What happened to you is not your fault.  You are not alone.  You are not crazy, you are not to blame, and you are not broken.  You are beautiful, you are free, and you can shine again without shame.  You can be your own hero and go on a journey to recover from the pain and to then reclaim the treasure of your true self.

The first step is finding a safe person to share your story with who can also help you find the recovery resource that works best for you.  If you can’t afford therapy, there may be a non-profit that can provide you the support you need.  Just begin.

Read books, watch videos,  check out the parillume website.  Begin to feel and move through the pain and know that there is a fierce hope available to you. You are worth it.

 

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

I think it requires a combination of many efforts and movements:

First: Those of us who have experienced violence must shine again in our voice and choice and tell our stories – without shame.

Second: Perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.

Third: Good men must rise up to say “No more.  Not on my watch.”

And, finally, we must take action to transform the conversation around violence against women from one of shame and silence to one of heroism and fierce hope.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project? 

I love The Pixel Project’s mission!  It is full of hope and creativity and light. Through the power of the internet, social media, pop culture, and the arts to end violence against women, the nonprofit reaches multiple generations of people who can make a difference.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: PC Cast, 57, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our 3rd  Survivor Stories interview is with PC Cast from the USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

We must demand our freedom from the patriarchy.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Because I support the empowerment of women.

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

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

The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking,  online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

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

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

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The Survivor Bio:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project? 

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

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2016: Monika Korra, 26, Norway

The Pixel Project is proud to present our third annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2016. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2016 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 campaign was created to provide:

  • VAW survivors a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Girls and women currently experiencing or who have survived VAW ideas, hope, and inspiration to escape the violence and know that there is light at the tunnel and there is help out there.

Our twenty-first 2016 Survivor Stories interview,, in partnership with CLIMB, is with Monika Korra from Norway.

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The Survivor Bio:

Monika founded The Monika Kørra Foundation and wrote the book Kill the Silence published by Penguin Random House. Monika is now a sought-after speaker, inspiring others to work their way through any kind of personal life challenges. She has been the keynote speaker at more than 60 events. Sports is the love of her life - cross-country skiing, running and yoga. The outdoors, spending time in nature and at the family cabin in the mountains brings peace to her mind. She is a cross-country skiing coach for youth skiers in Norway. She also loves spending time with her little nephew (two-and-a-half years old) – when he was born everything else was put into perspective.

Monika Korra_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

In my sophomore year of college, I was kidnapped at gunpoint and gang raped by three men. This was a stranger rape case. Thanks to the Dallas PD, they were all found and the case was brought to court a year later. I testified against them, confronting each man in court. Two of them received life sentences and one received 25 years.

 

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

After they had taken what they wanted from me that night they placed duct tape over my eyes and pushed me out of their van. The police found me later than night and brought me to the hospital.

 

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

It all started with the decision to find my way back to a normal life. I knew that I wasn’t going to make it alone, but that I needed to let others help me along the way. Openness, writing, exercise and forgiveness were the key elements in my healing process.

 

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

Don’t face it alone, let others help you along the way. We are so much stronger together than we’ll ever be alone. It’s okay to feel the pain, to cry, to be frustrated and angry, but there is a way through. Healing can be a rollercoaster of emotions, but in the end there is great hope. Life can be better than it’s ever been before.

 

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

To end violence against women, we need to kill the silence surrounding it in society. No more victim blaming and focusing on the victim. There is no excuse for violence against women. We need to focus on the perpetrator and how to prevent this horrible crime from taking place in our society. Awareness, education and changes in attitudes are core elements to end violence against women.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The goals and values of the Pixel Project are in line with mine, and to fight this horrible crime we need to stand together – we need to work together, because together we can make a difference.