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-sixth 2016 Survivor Stories interview is with Hanna Sarah Cameron from the USA.
The Survivor Bio:
HannahSarah Cameron is 22 years old. She started working with her platform for pageants of helping women who had been affected by domestic violence. She has always had a warm heart after visiting them and hearing their stories. She works with schools to educate them on the signs of domestic violence and how they can get help. She is active on social media to help spread awareness about this issue. She has now been happily married for a year and 7 months. She loves showing that victims can overcome and recover from an abusive relationship and she is in the process of getting awareness classes into the Idaho curriculum.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?
I was affected by domestic violence. I was sixteen years old when I met my “dream guy”. We worked together and ended up going on dates. Things got tricky when I moved to go to a different school but we made things work. He was charming. I fell in love fast and he knew I would never say no to him. That was when it all started.
He would manipulate me, lie to me, he would not do things for me unless I did something for him. So many red flags popped up. My mom and friends and even teachers warned me to get out, but I always made excuses for him. “He will change”. “He is never like this”. I was sucked in.
I was in this relationship on and off. I would always come back to him and he knew that. I walked away from it all before my freshman year of college but he came back into my life months later when he told me “I am different now”.
When we finally went to the same college, I would go over and smell the alcohol on him. I would be scared at times because I thought he would hurt me, but I never got out. I felt afraid to say anything because I did not want him to leave me.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I was twenty years old when I found myself. I realised that I did not deserved to be treated that way. I was done being the victim. I finally told him NO MORE. He tried to fight to get me back; he even threatened me. I stood my ground and got out.
I ended up moving way and lost complete contact with him. I found an amazing guy who is now my husband. He showed me that real men don’t treat women the way I was treated.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
It took me a long time to get over what was done to me. I had to trust people all over again. What truly helped me heal were pageants. My platform is Break The Cycle: Giving Women Confidence They Can Carry. I educate our youth about domestic violence and also help the women in shelters by providing them with a purse filled with essential items that they may not have been able to take with them when getting out of a bad situation.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
I would not judge them for staying with their abuser. I would help them get the help they needed. Be there for them and encourage them.
It can be scary to let someone know they are being abused because you don’t know what will happen if you tell; but being by their side and holding their hand through it all is what will help them.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
Educate our youth about the signs of domestic violence and how they can get help. They are the future so teaching them now will help prevent it for further generations.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I support them because I was a victim and I want to be able to be the voice for everyone who has experienced this. I love how they work with men to educate them about the issue of violence against women and join forces with them to end violence against women in their communities.
I know how important it is to work with your community on getting them involved. Being active in my community as well as online, I can highly utilise The Pixel Project to bring that extra awareness to the issue.