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-eighth 2016 Survivor Stories interview is with Marica Phipps from the USA.
TRIGGER WARNING: The first Q&A in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence survivors.
The Survivor Bio:
Marica Phipps is founder of Battered Not Broken, Inc, a non-profit organisation, where she uses her personal testimony of overcoming domestic violence as a platform to provide crisis intervention services, support and empowerment to domestic violence victims, survivors and their families. In addition to her advocacy, Marica is a writer, public speaker, mentor, and owner of ‘Gracious Survivor’, a store that offers apparel and goods for survivors and advocates against domestic abuse. She is also a full time senior administrative assistant at a financial insurance company and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, all while maintaining balance in her family that includes three children.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?
On December 2013, I was forced to flee from my home in the snow. I was unclothed and vulnerable and had no choice but to leave my 7-year-old daughter, after being beaten unmercifully by a monster – her father.
That night, I was repeatedly beaten, strangled, and kicked like an animal from head to toe by a man twice my size. I endured blunt force trauma that split my head open from my forehead to the middle of my skull and was strangled to the point I felt my body going numb and my soul leaving my body. The entire time he beat me, he told he was going to kill me, and let me tell you – he tried!
Unfortunately, that was not the first time I felt the blow of my ex’s closed fist and the force of his strength. Five years prior, I had almost lost my life when I endured subdural haemorrhage from him beating and kicking my head multiple times and leaving me unconscious (while my two little girls watched).
The physical abuse was only a small part I endured compared to the 7 ½ years of mental and emotional abuse from his narcissistic behaviour.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
A couple of months prior to the assault in 2013, I had made the decision to leave the relationship. I began to see my worth and took off the blinders of rationalising his behaviour. Little did I know, women are in the most danger at the end of a relationship, so I had no idea my life was in danger as I was making plans to exit the relationship. After the last assault, I never again went back to the relationship.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
My faith and patience was tested many times as I navigated though the many layers of the judicial system. I overcame the rollercoaster of my own emotions and also supported my children’s journeys to healing.
Early in my recovery process, I made the decision that I was not going to let the experience break me. Two things kept me going: my relationship with God and my children. My relationship with God played a significant part, as it’s what kept me going on the days when I felt I had nothing left. My children, especially my daughters, were my motivation. I knew they were watching me and I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow them to see my break.
I made the decision to use the experience as a time to “pull over” and re-evaluate my journey thus far and my destination going forward.I had to dig deep and confront my insecurities and all of my weaknesses that made me bound and made me a “perfect match” for a person like my ex.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
It’s not easy. Your experience with domestic violence, sexual assault or rape, etc, may be one of the most difficult things you will experience in your life.
Yet, we must remember that the most painful experiences teach us the greatest lessons. There are many experiences in our lives that leave us battered resulting in emotions that leave us feeling psychologically traumatised, abandoned, rejected and confused.
However, it is important to remember that our struggles and challenges are not given to destroy and break us; they are given to us as students, to learn and strengthen our areas of weakness. Life is our best teacher; we must be willing to learn.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
The only remedy we ever have to heal is in our own self-consciousness. We must make a commitment to help save the lives of others along our own journey; we must be willing to open our eyes and see when someone is in need. For those whom we do not “see” we must lift our voice so they can hear us speak up and tell our story so they may be able to understand their own.
This ripple effect is profound, as it enables others to see and make the necessary changes that need to occur to begin leading lives that include safe and healthy relationships.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I support The Pixel Project because of their mission of action. As a survivor and an advocate I support their mission fully because we must all take action if we wish to see change! They are intentionally working to bring awareness and refusing to make excuses and rationalisations that our society makes when it comes to domestic violence or any other type of violence against women.