Posts tagged The Pixel Project

READ FOR PIXELS INTERVIEW: Charles de Lint

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

In this interview, we talk to Charles de Lint who is the author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children’s books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library’s Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint’s books among the top 100. Charles’ latest book, THE WIND IN HIS HEART, will be released on September 19th, 2017.

Charles will be taking part in the 4th annual Fall Edition of the Read For Pixels campaign by donating a one-of-a-kind perk to help raise funds for The Pixel Project – a perpetual place on his private mailing list through which he sends out a haiku a day to about 25 friends. This is available for one (1) generous donor only! More details will be available once the Read For Pixels campaign (including the fundraising page with this goodie on it) kicks off on 1st September 2017, so check out The Pixel Project’s Facebook page and Charles’ Facebook page  in September 2017 for the link to the fundraising page to donate to the campaign. If you’d like to have a chance to participate in live Q&As online with 12 other award-winning bestselling authors who will be having live Read For Pixels Google Hangouts, check out the schedule here.

And now, over to Charles…

Picture courtesy of Charles de Lint.

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cdl-300 dpi1. Why is ending violence against women important to you and why did you decide to take action about it by supporting The Pixel Project?

I don’t just believe in gender/religious/racial equality. I genuinely can’t understand why anyone would think it’s okay to bully or harm another human being. To do our part in eradicating violence, it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to do everything in our power to stop this ugly behaviour by nurturing mutual respect and kindness using whatever platforms we have.

Mine is simply by portraying all the characters in my fiction as equals, with the strengths and weaknesses that any of us might possess. I don’t get preachy about it, but I’ve written plenty of fiction dealing (in part) with violence against women, kids, and marginalized people, and I’ve heard from many readers that they gained strength or felt empowered because they felt less alone and found role models to look up to.

I’ve also had the honour of hearing from counsellors and ministers who’ve used my fiction in their work, and everyday people—even prisoners—who’ve affirmed that my writing helped them look at issues in a different light. I can’t imagine a more gratifying response to one’s creative output, and it sustains me even when my writing hits all the inevitable potholes and such.

 

2. You have very generously offered a perpetual spot on your private Haiku mailing list to one generous donor in the upcoming Read For Pixels fundraiser. Aside from helping raise funds  to keep anti-violence against women work going, what do you think authors can do to help stop violence against women?

The interesting thing about stories is that they aren’t a passive art form. Well-written stories allow the reader to invest their imagination in the reading process and part of that investment is to immerse oneself in the lives of the characters you meet in the pages. Aside from great entertainment value, which is important to me, a major side benefit is that the reader can come away with a tangible understanding of how the “other” is not so different from oneself. Every “other,” from refugee to the opposite gender, can be understood and, more importantly, empathized with, if you can experience the world through their eyes.

Authors don’t need to lecture. They only need to depict truthful stories that, as they unwind, show readers that treating others as we’d like to be treated ourselves shouldn’t be considered freakish behaviour, but rather the norm.

 

 3. As a prominent male author, what do you think men can do to help stop violence against women?

It’s pretty basic. Just as we shouldn’t let racist comments from our friends and acquaintances slide, neither should misogynist comments or jokes go by without questioning them. You don’t have to get heavy about it. Even just saying, “I don’t understand,” as often as necessary to someone trying to justify it to you, sends a clear message that this attitude no longer flies.  Speak up when you become aware of something that’s not right, be it trolls on the Internet or some jerk on the street. And always be a rock for those who might need our support. Treat your partners and women friends with the genuine respect and honesty they deserve.

One more thing: read women writers and recommend their books to your male friends. What better way to get inside the workings of the female mind than to look at the world through their lens and voice? I believe it’s entirely possible to create a new normal and I can only do my best to set a positive example in my daily life and my creative work.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Read For Pixels 2017 (Fall Edition)

reveal-read-for-pixels-2017-fall-slideJuly 27th, 2017 (WORLDWIDE): The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net), an anti-Violence Against Women non-profit, will be holding the fourth annual Fall Edition of their “Read For Pixels” campaign. “Read For Pixels” 2017 (Fall Edition) features live Google Hangouts with award-winning bestselling authors in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign (http://reveal.thepixelproject.net), which aims to raise US$1 million in aid of The Pixel Project. Participating authors include Adrian Tchaikovsky, Alafair Burke, Genevieve Valentine, Ilona Andrews, Isaac Marion, Kass Morgan, Ken Liu, Kristen Britain, Paul Tremblay, Sara Raasch, Soman Chainani, and Vicki Pettersson.

“Read For Pixels” 2017 (Fall Edition) Google Hangout sessions will run on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from September 1st to October 1st 2017. Each session will feature an author reading from one of their books and discussing women and girls in their books, why they support ending violence against women, and women in the media, geek culture, and popular culture. Each session will also include a live moderated Q&A session for fans and book lovers to ask their favourite authors questions in real time.

Participating authors have also generously donated a range of exclusive goodies to help The Pixel Project encourage fans and book lovers to donate to the Pixel Reveal campaign including: Exclusive swag bags and book bundles, signed first editions or special editions of participating authors’ books, micro stories written especially for donors, a chance to be a minor character in their upcoming books, and more. There are also exclusive goodies courtesy of Aliette de Bodard, Charles de Lint, Dan Wells, Karen Rose, Kendare Blake, Steven Erikson, and more. In addition, the Berkley and Ace/Roc/DAW imprints at Penguin Random House are each donating a mystery book box. Donations begin at as little as US$5 and the goodies are available to donors as “thank you” gifts and perks depending on the donation amount. Fundraising will take place on Rally Up in tandem with the Google Hangout series over the month of September 2017.

“Violence against women is one of the most widespread and entrenched human rights violations in the world and The Pixel Project is delighted that so many acclaimed authors have stepped up to join us in raising much-needed funds and widespread support for this cause,” said Regina Yau, Founder and President of The Pixel Project.  “To date, the Read For Pixels campaign have collectively raised almost US$44,000 for the cause and ignited online discussions about violence against women by fans and supporters. We will continue to hold the Fall Edition of “Read For Pixels” annually in September as part of our ongoing programme of Read For Pixels events and activities. It is our hope that the authors’ support of the cause will inspire fans of their wonderful books and book lovers worldwide to not only donate generously, but also begin taking action to stop the violence in their communities wherever they are in the world.”

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For more information about Read For Pixels, contact Regina Yau or Maria del Rio at info@thepixelproject.net or visit: http://is.gd/Read4Pixels.

About The Pixel Project (www.thepixelproject.net)

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

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: Honey LeBlanc, 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 19th Survivor Stories interview is with Honey LeBlanc from the USA. 

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a wife and mother of four children. This year marks my twentieth year as a teacher and my twenty-second year free from domestic violence. My passion is a summer camp for children and adults with special needs that I helped start 3 summers ago. The majority of my free time is spent doing service projects and events for people with special needs or with teenagers.

 

honey-leblanc_cropped1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

My first husband was an abuser. It started out mild but quickly escalated to actual violence.

The physical violence started when I was pregnant, but the emotional abuse started well before I became pregnant. He was the classic abuser: started out flattering me, moved to isolating me through controlling behaviors, escalated to physical violence, and ended up with me wondering if I would make it out alive.

 

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

One day, when my daughter was 2 I had simply reached the point where something had to give. I was working at the police department as a desk clerk and realised that it simply couldn’t go on. I had friends in the department who didn’t fall for my lies about my split lip or bruise. They gave me the courage, or maybe I was so deeply ashamed, that I decided to do something about it.

 

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

After kicking my husband out, I began reporting the behaviours to the police. I didn’t allow myself to fall for his lies about how sorry he was. I followed through with the divorce and fought him every step of the way for custody of my daughter. Standing up for myself helped me to realise that I was strong enough to get out. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Two years later, when I realised that he was repeating the cycle with his new wife, I called her and tried to get her to leave. I had remarried by that time and my new husband (with whom I am about to celebrate 19 totally violence-free years of marriage) offered to go get her from the house while my ex was out. At that point she refused to leave, but the seed must have been planted because a year or so later she called me when she too had met her breaking point. Together, she and I, along with my husband, have raised our daughter. We have forged a new, albeit totally non-traditional, family that does not involve violence.

 

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

I would say that you are strong enough. You are good enough. You can find your own way. Find people who are good for you, who believe you and believe in you. Report the violence every single time and keep records.

 

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

Part of ending violence against women is empowering women and girls to speak up for themselves and to realise that they aren’t alone.

I tell my story to my students when the opportunity arises (in a way that is appropriate for the classroom), and every time I tell it without fail a student says, “You don’t seem like the type of woman that happens to.” I always tell them that there is no type of woman that it happens to.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support the Pixel Project because it is so very important to get our stories out there so that other women know they are not alone and that you can escape from the situation.

 

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Trisa Mattson, 50, 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 18th  Survivor Stories interview is with Trisa Mattson from the USA.

TRIGGER WARNING: The first Q&A in this interview may be distressing for some Childhood Sexual Abuse survivors.

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The Survivor Bio:

My name is Trisa Mattson and I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’ve gone through a tremendous amount of pain in my 50 years but have also overcome abuse, gone on to have 3 children of whom I am very proud. I enjoy sports, the outdoors, crochet, writing poems and my biography, and I like to dance. I am working on my educational goals starting with my GED and then continuing on to college thereafter. 

 

dsc_04511. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

When I was a young child (8-10) I was sexually abused by my stepdad at night while my mom was at work. He’d look at pornographic magazines and then use me to act out the images he saw in those magazines.

I was afraid to tell my mom, I thought she would blame me. When I eventually got the courage to tell her she did blame me as I had feared. I was devastated and began to act out, getting into trouble both at school and at home. Throughout my childhood I was beaten with a belt both across my back and face, no one intervened. I was bounced from home to home which made me feel like I wasn’t loved nor could I understand why my mom didn’t believe me. I hated her for that.

When I was 16, I ended up living with my aunt and uncle during which my uncle began sexually abusing me. At this same time my biological father started picking me up from their home, he’d drive me out in the country, sexually abuse me in his truck camper and photograph me. He threatened to hurt me if I told anyone. I was terrified, being sexually abused by both my uncle and biological father.

 

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

After about one-and-a-half years of this abuse I finally found the courage to confide in a trusted high school friend about the abuse. She in turn told a teacher at school who reported it to law enforcement.

They began to investigate and I was placed into protective police custody. At this same time, my brother, who had begun living with my biological father, found the sexually abusive photographs taken of me by my biological father and turned the pictures in to the police. My biological father was criminally charged and later convicted, sentenced to one year of probation, little jail time. Later he went on to abuse my sister, my niece, and my nephews, which he was not convicted for. He abused my stepbrother and was convicted of lewd conduct with minor, again a light jail sentence with probation – a slap on the wrist.

He continued his abuse and was later charged with 2 felony counts for sexual abuse of a non-relative – a 16/17 year old. For this last case, my biological father is currently in prison in Idaho and is due to be released in October 2019.

 

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

I began seeking help from my local rape crisis center in 1993 when I was a young mother. There I attended support groups and began counselling.

Years later I went on to confront my biological father when he was in jail for the crime of abusing my step-bother. He defiantly told me that I deserved everything that happened to me. I was traumatised further by his blame. This moment was a turning point for me, and I devoted myself to healing. I made a promise to myself and others that I was going to devote myself to stopping him, protecting others, and changing this world.

As circumstances would have it, there was fresh concrete about to be poured on the sidewalk outside the rape crisis center. I took those photos he took of me and I burned those images, placing their remnant ashes on the ground and let the new concrete pour over the top of them. Sealing them helped me heal.

Soon after this turning point I began writing poems to express my feelings. They help me to heal too. Years later my poems lead me to write a book, the story of my life and my healing. These writings make me stronger, they give me voice, they help me convey my feelings, my courage, and strength.

 

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

I want to assure other women or girls in situations like this that:

  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
  • It is not your fault.
  • Do NOT give up – keep fighting for justice.
  • You will eventually see the light out of the dark maze you find yourself in now.
  • You will eventually be able to stand your ground.
  • Hold your head up high – the shame will go away.
  • Set some personal goals and go after them.  This will help you get your self esteem back and you can hold your head up high again.

 

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

Wow! Where do we start?

When victims are believed, and speak out while standing their ground, eventually society will have no choice but to start facing the truth about violence against women.

We need to have a justice system with a stronger stance against violence against women and children, offering more substantial sanctions against perpetrators of violence thus conveying the message that this violence is unacceptable in our communities.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I believe it is the telling of survivor stories like mine and others that will help other victims who are fighting and are lost in the darkness of abuse. To encourage others that there is light beyond the darkness is my own personal commitment, the reason I have written a book and poems myself, and The Pixel Project is one more way to get those stories out.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Margaret Finger, 62, 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 17th  Survivor Stories interview is with Dr. Margaret Finger 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 was born in Austin, Texas, and lived there most of my life. In 1976, I received my B.S. in OT from the University of Texas. As an occupational therapist for 36 years, I treated patients from one day old to 104 years. After being a clinical instructor for 25 years, I began my doctoral programme at Creighton University in 2010 and graduated December of 2014. I have three adult children, six grandchildren, and Beaker, my beloved cockatiel. I enjoy music, dancing, crocheting, and love sunset walks on the beach. Fall is my favorite season because of cool weather and football.

 

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

While awaiting acceptance into a DV shelter, I was given an intake interview. It contained four types of violence, and I was a victim of all four:

Early in my 36- year marriage, there were three incidences of physical violence. At first I believed him when he said that it would never happen again. After my children witnessed one incident, I threatened to leave him. I was treated for depression twice. I admitted to a counsellor that I was in an abusive situation.  She said to read the book “Co-dependent No More” and gave me homework: I was to talk with a local domestic violence shelter. If another man complimented me, my husband would take me home and sodomise me. There were times he stole from me, and we went through two bankruptcies. He lost two jobs because he threatened to kill his supervisors.

But the pivotal moment was when two law enforcement officers and my best girlfriend were begging me to leave because it was apparent to them that he would kill me if I stayed. At this point he was telling me that if I left him he “would hunt me down like an animal and kill me”.

 

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

The shelters in my state wouldn’t accept me due to my disability.  I made a search to locate a shelter, and found one in another state.

An elaborate plan was put into motion and an “underground railroad” created to evacuate me to another state where I could get help.  My best friend who had 15 years in the military and a concealed gun license picked me up at work. She took me to another city to meet a couple I had never met.  I was taken to their home in the middle of a 200-acre ranch until arrangements could be made to get me safely out of the state.

My friend destroyed my cell phone and gave me a new one so that only those involved in the evacuation could reach me.  She said that abusers reported their wives missing and endangered so the police would assist in finding them.

I was driven 90 miles from my home and put on a plane.  When I got on, I didn’t know where I was going.  I left everything behind and only had a backpack.  I was very scared.  After landing, I was taken to a hotel– a safety net for the DV shelter.  They accepted me.

 

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

The shelter found attorneys to put a permanent protective order in place.  They assisted me with obtaining emergency food stamps and applying for Social Security Disability.  They helped me orient myself to the bus transportation system.  They provided both group and individual counselling.  I was helped to get medical injuries treated and file a police report. They helped get into a victims’ protection programme where I could receive my mail without it being traced.

During this, time I learned a lot about myself.  I struggled with night terrors and PTSD.  I researched both of these symptoms in order to learn how to help myself heal. It is truly my opinion that I would not have done as well as I did without the shelter’s support.

I moved into my apartment and in two months re-entered my doctorate programme.  It has been five years since I left the shelter and my life is so happy.  I got the opportunity to teach and loved it!  I am in a relationship with someone whom I have known since I was 12.  I have a wealth of good friends.  I do not have to be afraid in my own home.

 

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

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship, never give up hope.  Continue to ask for help and it will happen.  Find the closest domestic violence shelter so the professionals can facilitate a safe evacuation.  If you know someone that is going through this, educate them and support them.  If it had not been for my two friends, I would have not made it.

In addition, if you are single and dating, especially using online dating services, please be aware of the issues I have discussed.  You might want to run a background check on potential romantic partners.

I say this because a couple of years after I left my now ex-husband, my sister noticed that he had created a Facebook page where he was a retired CEO of a company.  He had photo-shopped a picture of his half- sister together with him– she does not like him.  He had photos of children he said were his grandchildren and they weren’t.  The entire page was false.  Our assumption was that he had set it up for a dating service.  If someone were to complete a background check on him they would find a felony, assault charges, DWI and a permanent protective order.

 

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

Honestly, I don’t believe that it is possible to completely end violence. However, as in most other cases, the best strategy to reduce violence is education and empowerment. I volunteer for DVACK here in Salina, and am on a new organisation, Partnership To Reduce Violence. Recently, Jana’s Campaign came to KWU for an educational presentation. There is a community-wide event planned in a few weeks to support victims of crime.

No matter what you are told, no one deserves to be disrespected or a victim of violence. Being aware of the red flags in your relationships, starting from teen dating, can help prevent an escalation into abuse. Saying something when you see any abuse or violence is crucial.

Most importantly, don’t just think that this is none of your business, that it will go away, or that there is nothing you can do to help.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

This is my first hearing about The Pixel Project. Anything and anyone who supports victims and survivors of domestic violence has my support. I am going to explore more about The Pixel Project to see how I can support it.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Tammy Enlow, 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 16th  Survivor Stories interview is with Tammy Enlow from the USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a 45-year-old mother of four.  I was in an abusive marriage/relationship for right at twenty years.  I have been away from my abuser for seven years now, and it’s been the hardest, best time in my life.  I have and am happier than I’ve ever been.  I have become a resident advocate at our local women’s shelter and have started my own project to help abuse survivors.  It’s called The Freedom From Fear Project, and I help domestic violence survivors obtain registered service animals to help them on their journey.  I have also returned to college to finish my psychology degree that was started many years ago.

 

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

My personal experience is that I am a survivor of an almost-20-year-long abusive marriage.  My ex-husband abused me in every way possible over the course of that time frame, and I am very blessed to still be here.

He would knock me around almost daily and he attempted to kill me multiple times.

Like I say I am very blessed to still be here.

 

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

When it was time to separate from my abuser, I was terrified, but the years of abuse also had me to the point where I no longer cared what happened. I was just done.  It got to the point where there was nothing more he could do to me, except kill me. I made him leave, I honestly didn’t care at that point, I could not live that way anymore and if it was to be the end of me, then so be it. I wouldn’t be miserable anymore.

In the beginning, I had to take all steps by myself as my family didn’t know fully what was going on.  After a short period, my family and friends all stepped up to help, as much as they possibly could; though I was the one that had to do it for me.  I trekked through and made it all work out.

 

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

I spent a lot of time finding me, I did a lot of volunteer work to keep myself busy, I started back to school, I stayed by myself for quite a while, no dating or anything, I had to recreate me.

Initially I was a single mom with four children and one income, trying to make everything work out, and it did.  I ended up in counselling for a short period, it was offered for free for domestic violence survivors, so I utilised it.  It helped a lot and it helped me realise the steps I needed to take.

 

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

Get out and don’t waste years of your life like I did.  You’ll be okay and life will rebuild itself with time.

 

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

Educate educate and educate, and end victim shaming, people don’t realise how much that plays into women not speaking up.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

Anything to educate and help stop this epidemic is a wonderful thing which I full on support!

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Hayley Paige, 33, 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 15th Survivor Stories interview is with Hayley Paige from the United Kingdom.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

I am a 33-year-old single mother to two incredible daughters, and a domestic violence survivor. Living in the UK, I work from home as a self-employed copy editor and publishing consultant. When I’m not working, I love to spend quality time with my little girls and all of our animals (5 adult and 4 baby bunnies, 2 cats and a hedgehog!) building positive happy memories, and losing myself in a book. I am also a keen writer, with my next fiction due to be published in the winter of 2017.    

 

hayley-paige-21. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was a victim of domestic violence who endured mental and emotional abuse for a five-year period spanning 2008–2012. During this time, I was told that my family and friends had shown they didn’t care for me, that any trauma I had experienced was actually nothing, and that I would never find anyone else because I had a daughter from a past relationship. I was body-shamed and made to feel like I needed to improve various aspects of myself.

The physical violence started in August 2008. From this point until I left in December 2012, I was dragged and thrown around rooms, chased and forced to lock myself away or hide, strangled, choked, punched, threatened, thrown around by my hair, spat at, had objects thrown at me, such as a large pepper grinder, and very viciously beaten during a number of sustained attacks. One particular incident in 2011 nearly killed me, and is the only episode of violence I ever reported to police. Others caused miscarriage, a broken wrist, and mental and emotional side effects.

In addition to the violence, my conversations were, at times, recorded on dictaphones (without my knowledge), and I was verbally abused as a result of what I had been ‘caught’ saying.

 

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

After marrying and having a baby with him, I somehow managed to further isolate myself and my family by moving abroad. It was during this time that, through various episodes, I found clarity. I was in the most beautiful country and house, with two beautiful daughters, earning good money, and unable to enjoy any of it as a result of fear.

One day, he said something awful to me in front of my then-9 year old. It was the last straw. After speaking to my eldest daughter, I emailed my best friend and sister back in the UK, explained what had been happening, and told them I needed to get back to the UK. I told my husband our marriage was over. He didn’t react, which was commonplace. I knew the tears would come at some point — his tried and tested way of getting me back.

My best friend put me in contact with an estate agent friend of hers who helped me to secure a piece of property. My girls and I then moved into what was a run-down, horrible little house in a bad area of the UK, and we slowly started to free ourselves from fear.

 

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

I slowly began to talk to people, to peel back the layers of lies I had told over the years to protect him, and found therapy and healing in discussing some of the worst ordeals with people close to me.

I enrolled in a domestic violence course, which sought to validate victims’ thoughts and feelings surrounding incidents, especially those viewed as ‘trivial’, and which taught how to identify negative behaviours should another man ever be in my future.

I accepted the help of Victim Support services and had my property ‘hardened’ with locks, alarms and a police marker to help us to feel protected.

I focused my time and energy on my daughters, on healing their wounds, on building precious memories that would go some way to masking over the difficult ones. I sought counselling for myself and my eldest daughter, and I reconnected with friends and family I had become estranged from.

I slowly started to love myself, despite the flaws he had made me see. And, with time, I began to recognise that the way he had behaved was nothing to do with me but was all to do with him.

 

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

You don’t deserve it. No, you didn’t goad him. You didn’t prod him. You didn’t do something that you knew would make him angry. Repeat: It isn’t your fault. This is him. And you deserve more.

Leave. Make plans to leave now. Do anything; start the ball rolling. Squirrel a little money away, make a phone call when you’re safe to do so, reach out. Don’t stay. I know he cries and he begs and pleads. I know he says he’s sorry, and you love him so he knows how to make you forgive him. But don’t stay. It’s a never-ending circle. It won’t get better, not until you leave—and then I promise you, it will.

And yes, your children deserve a family. But not this one. A bright, safe, happy one, without fear.

The fear surrounding leaving is probably the most worrying thing but also is a fear that is far greater than actual reality. As soon as you start seeking help and putting in place a plan to leave, your support network will grow and you will find courage. There is strength in numbers.

 

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

Through education, through speaking out, through the sharing of stories. Through listening without judgement; by stopping the blame culture.

I believe children should be educated from a very young age as to what is and isn’t acceptable. Any kind of hurt isn’t acceptable in any kind of relationship, romantic or otherwise —  physical hurt, emotional hurt, psychological or mental. We need to teach that negative behaviours don’t show love.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

The Pixel Project helps women of domestic violence to feel like they’re not alone — because they’re not. It shows, in various ways, that any behaviour we have put up with or excused isn’t acceptable. And to be told that is empowering.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT 2017: Martha Wells, 52, 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 14th  Survivor Stories interview is with Martha Wells from the USA.

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

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The Survivor Bio:

Martha Wells is a science fiction and fantasy writer whose first novel was published in 1993.  Her most recent series are The Books of the Raksura for Night Shade Books, and The Murderbot Diaries for Tor.com.  She has also written short stories, media tie-ins for Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis, YA fantasies, and non-fiction. Ms. Wells’ picture is (c) Igor Kraguljac.

 

marthawells_byigorkraguljacsmall1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

When I was in college, I was stalked by a former male friend. This was someone I had known since my freshman year and trusted. He decided he wanted to date me, and when I didn’t want to, he left me a note threatening to kill me. I reported it to the police, who talked to him and told me they thought they had scared him and hoped that he would leave me alone. He convinced several mutual friends that I had been his girlfriend and that we had had a sexual relationship, and that I was cheating on him. He used mutual friends to keep tabs on me and pressure me into “coming back” to this relationship with him that I had never had.

 

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

I think I was just lucky. Before the stalking started, I only saw him when I was with other people. I noticed that his behaviour toward me had changed, and that he was trying to get me alone. I started to avoid him without really knowing why. I didn’t really understand what was happening until he threatened to kill me. He attended the same SF/F conventions and events as I did, and I had to be extremely careful to avoid him and not be trapped alone with him anywhere.

 

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

It just took time. It took me a long time to be able to trust people again, especially after seeing how many of the people I thought were friends either didn’t take my fear of him seriously, believed that I had had a sexual relationship with him or just didn’t seem to believe I had the right to refuse him since he “loved” me so much.

This was in the 1980s, and stalking wasn’t really understood at that time the way it was now, so there weren’t a lot of options for help. Almost every girl I knew in college was stalked at some point, either by strangers or men that they knew.

 

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

Try to listen to your instincts, and if something someone says or does worries or frightens you, don’t try to rationalise or ignore it.

If a friend doesn’t believe that you’ve been stalked or tries to get you to “make up” with someone who frightens you, then that person is not your friend.

 

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

I think education, especially about consent, starting as early as possible, can help a lot.  Teach kids to respect each other as people, teach boys that girls are not somehow less deserving of bodily autonomy than they are.

 

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

It’s an important source of support, information, and help to women who badly need it.  If we don’t talk about violence towards women and make people aware of the violence women face often on a daily basis, we have no hope of ending it.

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