Posts tagged Survivor Stories

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: Christie Edmisten, 38, USA

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

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

Our 8th  Survivor Stories interview is with Christie Edmisten from the USA.

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The Survivor Bio:

My name is Christie, I am a 10-year survivor of domestic violence. I have 3 amazing children, 2 boys and 1 girl. I am originally from Northwest Arkansas. I enjoy spending time with friends and family and trying new things. I also enjoy baking, cooking, and DIY projects. I work full time as a manager of a plasma collection centre. In my spare time I join attorney Julie Medina and share my story in her “Speak Out” programme, educating others on domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault. I also have a boyfriend of over 2 years who is a professional MMA fighter.   

 

christie2_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was involved in a relationship where I suffered domestic violence for about 7 years. My abuser’s brother also took the life of one of my good friends

 

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

I attempted many times to leave the relationship. Each time the violence escalated. I was afraid to allow any friends I had left to help me. During this time he would show up at their house; at one point he shot up a friend’s house where he thought I was staying. I was not safe anywhere.

I moved out of the home that we shared together and ended up getting a protection order. Unfortunately, this did not stop him either. With each attempt to leave I made the violence continued to escalate out of control.

He was finally arrested after hiding in my bedroom closet for 4 hours waiting for me and the kids to return home. My next door neighbour heard him assaulting me and called the police.

 

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

Rebuilding my life was difficult. My attorney Julie Medina gave me a lot of resources for help. She set me up with an advocate from the Women’s and Children’s Alliance and with their help I was able to move from my former home. I was also placed on the Address Confidentiality programme and I had to make sacrifices and get used to living on a 1-person income rather than a 2-person income.

I remained focused throughout the court proceedings. I knew that if he got out of jail this time he would kill me.

I rebuilt relationships with friends and family I had lost due to the relationship I was in. About 2 years ago, I found the courage to share my story with others after Julie Medina invited me to speak with her as a part of her Speak Out programme.

 

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

I would share my story with them. I would let them know that, despite what they may think right now, the violence is not going to stop, it will only escalate and get worse. Fortunately I was able to escape my violent relationship, but my friend was not so lucky.

I would also let them know that they are not alone. There are so many resources out there to help women in domestic violence situations, but you can’t do it alone, you need help!  People do care!

 

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

Educate! Educate! Educate! I strongly believe that early education is key. I knew nothing about domestic violence before I experienced it.

Speak Out reaches many high school and college students. It puts a face to the crime and helps break the stigma of these relationships. No one seeks out these relationships; they happen and progress slowly over a period of time.

Educate law enforcement as well. They need to know how to recognise these relationships to better respond. Stricter laws for comestic violence are important as well. It’s intimidating for some women to want to press charges when they know that their abuser could likely get out in as little as a few months. The punishment for abusers that violate protection orders should be stricter as well.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it educates and brings awareness to DV, sexual assault and other gender-based crimes.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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The Survivor Bio:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

We must demand our freedom from the patriarchy.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Because I support the empowerment of women.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Survivor Bio:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project? 

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

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Vanessa King, 57, USA

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

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

Our 1st  Survivor Stories interview is with Vanessa King from the USA.

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

The Survivor Bio:

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

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

CALL TO ACTION: Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project 2017

Blog and PenIn honour of Mother’s Day 2017,  The Pixel Project cordially invites women and girls who have survived gender-based violence to join our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project.

The project will feature an interview with a survivor per day on The Pixel Project’s blog throughout the month of May 2017. A total of 31 survivor stories will be featured and the focus of the interviews would be on how survivors have rebuilt their lives and/or healed from the violence.

The Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project is created to:

  • Give interviewees a platform to share their stories and solutions/ideas on how they rebuilt their lives and healed/are healing.
  • Give girls and women currently experiencing or have survived the violence ideas and inspiration and hope 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 2017 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to:

  • Raise US$1 million for The Pixel Project to fund our respective programmes, project and campaigns to end violence against women and girls.
  • Raise awareness about the role of men and boys in helping stop violence against women in their communities through highlighting the importance of positive non-violent prominent male role models.

Survivors of any form of violence against women including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking, cyber-violence against women, female genital mutilation, acid attacks, sex trafficking, breast ironing, and forced marriage/child marriage, are welcome to participate. Survivors may also come from any part of the world.

The interview will take the form of filling in a short Word-format interview sheet in English; then returning the completed interview sheet (in Word format) together with the accompanying materials requested in the interview sheet to info@thepixelproject.net or pixelprojectteam@gmail.com by the deadline of 25 April 2017.

For examples of previous interviews showing how to fill in your interview sheet:

http://www.thepixelproject.net/category/survivor-stories/

To download the interview sheet, click this link:

The Pixel Project – Survivor Stories Project – Interview Sheet 2017

For further information and assistance:

Email The Pixel Project team – info@thepixelproject.net

For more information about The Pixel Project: 

Visit http://www.thepixelproject.net

For more information about The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign:

Visit http://reveal.thepixelproject.net

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2016: Rachel Street , 40, USA

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 thirty-first and final 2016 Survivor Stories interview is with Rachel Street 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 have been a Certified Victim Advocate for three years and have recently created a page called Empowered before and after Domestic Violence . I will be graduating in June 2016 with my high school diploma and will be attending my local community college to continue my education in the Criminal Justice field in hopes of becoming a parole officer. I am so proud of myself and my accomplishments and I have many more goals for my life. One of my big goals is to write a book within the next couple of years to help the public understand why we stay, and to educate communities of this epidemic – yes its possible! I am also working with the homeless at a shelter at this time.

Rachel Street1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I had been abused physically, mentally, and emotionally, and was also raped in a relationship. My life came to a horrifying halt in the summer of 2006 when the man who told me he loved me began to put fear in every inch of my body.

He first started with mentally abusing me. His name calling, persuading me I wasn’t worth much – that my family didn’t care about me – had me convinced that there was no way out. Shortly thereafter I became pregnant with twin girls. I thought maybe having brought these beautiful tiny beings into this world would make him a better man and motivate him to be a good example for his daughters. That wasn’t the case. He actually became more aggressive and possessive – more of a danger to not just myself, but to my newborn children. Shortly after they were born, he raped me and I became pregnant with another set of twins. I was helpless, broken, and scared – scared for myself and my children.

Through the next four years I stayed afraid. He kept me in line by telling me the Department of Children and Families were going to take my children from me if I told them about the abuse.

 

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

After a horrifying night of him strangling me, and my children witnessing this, I planned to leave when he would least expect it. He was arrested a couple days later on a warrant, and I stayed at a motel with my four toddlers for a few days.

The Department of Children and Families, escorted by an officer, came to the motel and took my children. For two years I fought the system to get my children back, only to lose them due to the lack of knowledge surrounding the effects domestic violence on families.

 

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

I have attended therapy to heal the best way I can – by taking the things I’ve learned about myself and utilised information for the better. Though the pain I feel daily and the loss of my children never goes away, I have to continue to better myself and to fight not just for myself but for them. For the sake of my future as well as theirs, they need to know and to see I never gave up – to know their mom continued fighting, and to speak out about domestic violence for others who are and have been silenced.

As I have never graduated from high school so I went back to school for my high school diploma, and I will graduate this June. I’m very proud of myself, but I do get scared because it’s real and it’s positive change. I will also be attending a local college to get my Associates degree in Criminal Justice and I’m extremely excited.

I want to empower other women and support them because I know what it’s like to not have support from the system. I want to be the voice for those who are and have been silenced. Be strong be brave!

 

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

I would encourage her to find available resources. I would empower her and let her know that she is important, and is very capable of pursuing a better life and completing long- and short-term goals. That she is deserving of good things, worthy of a happy and healthy relationship.

 

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

By speaking out about it, by educating others with patience and perseverance, and by empowering victims.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Violence against women is an epidemic and The Pixel Project is a wonderful cause that helps women suffering domestic violence and other forms of violence against women become aware of the different resources available to them, for example: shelter, counselling, and safety planning to help them become who they once were again.

Through their Survivor Stories campaign, The Pixel Project encourage victims and survivors to know that they’ve always had a voice, and that they can find their voice again. We can change lives by sharing our stories, journeys, and accomplishments. We can empower others and let them know that YES it is possible to recover, and gain our lives and self-esteem back.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2016: Kristine Offerdahl, 47, USA

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 thirtieth 2016 Survivor Stories interview is with Kristine Offerdahl 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:

Kristine is an advertising/marketing professional currently working on a Digital Marketing Specialisation certificate. After escaping a physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally abusive marriage of over 20 years, she relocated to Washington, D.C. with her son and partner. Kristine became very active in the yoga community and is currently a work/study at a local studio. Kristine enjoys reading, gourmet cooking/baking, and walking/running around the nation’s capital, seeing all of the amazing history, museums, and monuments. She is passionate about sharing her story, and is hoping to someday publish a cookbook featuring recipes shared by other violence against women (VAW) survivors, as well as their art and stories.

Kristine Offerdahl_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I endured over 20 years of horrific beatings, choking, punching, kicking, shoving, knives to my throat, having my head used to smash furniture, cabinets and walls, as well as verbal, emotional and financial abuse. My son witnessed most of these incidents over the years.

One day after being beaten and having my life threatened, I decided to let my family know what a monster my husband was. They lived out of state, so I was constantly reminded that I could not leave Maryland with our minor son to flee to Pennsylvania. I felt so trapped and helpless.

 

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

I told my family after enduring violence for over 20 years, but they all lived out of state.  We put together a plan which involved getting a lawyer and a therapist for me, and I found an apartment during my lunch break one day. My son and I went to church on the 7th of July, 2013 and I never returned home or to my husband.

We didn’t take anything. My family drove down with just about everything that we needed, and friends helped too. My friend thought that I was going crazy because I was so preoccupied for the 12 weeks it took to plan the escape. I was also crying a lot, but I couldn’t tell anybody.

It has been almost three years now and the divorce is over. In the meantime, I have met an amazing man who is the exact opposite of everything that I had known for the past two decades.

 

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

Having a therapist really helped. My family paid my rent and took care of the lawyer fees. Financial abuse/lack of finances was mostly what kept me trapped for so many years. I knew that I could not do it on my own and I was afraid to ask for help. I was also very afraid to leave him – I was afraid of getting killed.

My son and I have moved to a different state and we have a fresh start. I had surgery on my nose to fix the damage from all of the blows over the years. I am so excited about this new chance at life and my son has a great example as to what a healthy, happy and loving relationship looks like.

 

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

Having a plan is great if it is possible, but my main advice is to leave and worry about the details later. It will work out. Get support and help from friends and family, local agencies, or your church. I had to leave everything, even my dog. Soon it will be three years since I left, and things couldn’t be better. My son is so happy now, and I am too.

 

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

Education. Parents talking to their children about violence, telling them that it is not acceptable under ANY circumstance. Telling their children that they are loved, and if there is any type of violence at all, to call them immediately. By breaking the cycle, my son now has a shot at a healthy life and healthy relationships. We need to show children that actions have consequences.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because of their passion for helping victims of VAW not just in small towns, but on a global basis. The Pixel Project is raising awareness and funds through social media, digital platforms and new technologies. The power of social and digital media is evident, and that means a new generation is going to be reached with this message. If kids, teens, and young adults can be informed and educated about VAW issues, there is hope for the future - a violence-free future, not only for women, but for everyone.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2016: Tracie Tucker, 34, USA

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-ninth 2016 Survivor Stories interview is with Tracie Tucker from the USA.

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The Survivor Bio:

I am the founder/director of a local support group for domestic violence victims and survivors that meets weekly and we are celebrating our one-year anniversary this month. I have a full-time job as a legal assistant and plan to go back to college for psychology to help domestic violence survivors. I live in South Texas with my son and boyfriend of over 2 years and am in a happy and healthy relationship. I love working outdoors, in the yard and garden, but most of all, my favorite thing to do is saltwater fishing.

Tracie Tucker 2016_final1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I was married to an abuser for four years who physically, sexually, emotionally and financially abused me.

 

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

I pressed charges, had him arrested, got a protective order, divorced him, then assisted law enforcement in prosecuting him on felony domestic violence charges.

 

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

My abuser was incarcerated for a long time after I left him. It wasn’t until he was released on parole that I realised that I needed to cope with everything and that I needed help.

Conventional counselling just didn’t fit me, so I began a support group for domestic violence victims and survivors. Healing alongside others who understand, and public speaking on behalf of survivors have proven to be therapeutic for me.

In addition to that, I have begun faith-based counselling with my pastor. Faith-based counselling is very important to me, especially when trying to control anxiety, anger and depression.

 

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

Your life is more valuable than your abuser has led you to believe. There is a better, healthier, happier option than staying in a destructive and abusive relationship. If you do not know what resources are available in your community for victims of domestic violence, contact your local law enforcement’s crime victim liaison, they know and they will share their knowledge with you whether or not you choose to press charges against your abuser.

Leave the first opportunity you get! While he is working, sleeping, in the shower, whatever the case may be – just leave. Clothes, furniture, vehicles are all material, your life is what matters most. If you cannot get those items safely now, you can get new ones later.

Join a support group with other survivors so that you may lean on each other and you will understand that you are not alone and there is hope. PUT YOUR LIFE FIRST, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN! If you do have children, just having them in the same household as one with domestic violence is considered child abuse/neglect and the state can and will remove your children if notified and you choose to continue to stay in an abusive home with your children.

 

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

It is imperative to have absolutely ZERO TOLERANCE for violence against women! At the first sign, press charges and leave.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because I am a survivor, and I know and understand how important it is to have as many resources as possible for awareness of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.