Posts tagged Rape

THE SURVIVORS STORIES PROJECT: Terry Lingrey, 49, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 project 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.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our tenth Survivor Stories interview is with Terry Lingrey from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Terry Lingrey is the survivor of multiple rapes, including child, date, gang, and marital rapes, as well as domestic violence and stalking.  She speaks to various audiences, including as keynote speaker at the University of Idaho’s Take Back the Night in 2013. She participates in the University of Idaho Violence Prevention Program’s Interpersonal Violence Speakers’ Bureau. She graduated from Reed College, and earned an MFA from University of Idaho, where she teaches writing. Her message is overwhelmingly one of hope, the capacity for healing, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Terry Lingrey 11. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

I am the survivor of multiple rapes, including child rape, date rape, gang rape, and marital rape followed by stalking which resulted in another rape after the relationship had ended. Many of the rapes were sadistic, including imprisonment and the application of torture with knives and guns. How can I categorize that? All rape is brutal, but those techniques seem especially difficult to understand and to label. Now I am a writer and activist who will speak to any audience that will have me, including Speakers’ Bureaus, activist events, advocate training, and community groups with an interest in understanding the consequences of rape and sexual assault for survivors.

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

Most of the rapes were single attacks that ended when the rapist(s) finished raping me. I never saw the child rapists again, nor the date rapist, but I saw the gang rapists because they were members of my community of athletes in high school.

I escaped the marital rape when I convinced my husband to allow me to leave Germany so I could attend a training program in England. After completing the program, I moved to southern California where I divorced my husband. A few years later, he found me in northern California and raped me again. I have not seen him since. I have not escaped him, he is still free and alive, and I live with the memories. He and the other rapists live in every cell, every blood vessel, every nerve ending, every synapse firing, every breath. I will not escape them, but I will not be defined by them either.

More importantly, they did not take the part of me that matters, the essential core of my own humanity, the part that loves and feels deeply and that acts for the many survivors and victims who did not survive or are learning how. That part is intact and always was. If any part of me has escaped the rapists, it is that part.

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

First and foremost, I moved my body through dance, rode horses, and walked until I could gain enough strength to work out. Solitude, withdrawal, long weeks of isolation, all were essential to claiming a new sense of self. I had two therapists, one female, one male. I saw them for close to ten years. I learned to listen to my intuitions, to trust my creativity, to speak for myself (I had a severe stutter for most of my life), and to trust the memories. I recovered most of the traumatic memories during that time, and worked with them in art, words, and journal writing. I worked with horses as a trainer, and massage therapist. Massage kept me close to instinctual processes. I regularly encounter the sites of the rapes, either actual, or in substitutes. I have recovered my athletic ability, and I have reclaimed one of the actual rape sites by visiting it and then walking out intact. I have a couple more to go. I write in fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I hope to start a blog about recovery. Writing is profoundly healing, because I gather what I was before rape and incorporate the shards that lay all around me after rape. I create meaning from what seems unspeakable. I speak it all. In achieving a successful life in spite of rape, I live as fully as I can and I remember to love, and I help others not to forget their inherent worth. That’s a good life, with rape or without it.

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

Do not forget the parts they did not touch. Think of the things you loved before, and turn to them again. For me those were horses, nature, words, language, art, movement in my body. Those are key parts of my recovery and they are the things I still love. Find a community of friends but let them pass away from you if they are not helping. Look for a good therapist who can hear everything and not necessarily ply you with drugs. Say everything. Don’t be afraid to be sad and angry and depressed and anxious and sad again and let the tears flow. Your emotions are links to the inner parts that have been terribly wounded and why shouldn’t you cry for them? When you want to turn from yourself remember that you can’t and that’s just how it is. Listen to the people who say you can love even this, even this pain, this suffering, this memory. If anyone wants you to get on with your life already, remember that they are scared for themselves and may not be the best people to hang out with right now. Don’t forget there are many long term survivors with successful, happy, fulfilling, exciting, non-dissociative lives, and you can be one of them. Remember who you were before anyone did anything harmful to you. You were already perfect from the moment you were born and you didn’t deserve any of this. You deserve to exist and there are people who will celebrate that with you. The rapists were lying and all the shame is theirs. You’ll feel it because they forced you to, but you are already better than them. You’ll only get better.

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

Girls have to be taught to say no to parents, friends, circumstances, ideologies, and to be aware that when they say no they are also saying yes and to know the difference. Parents have to be held accountable for behaviours that are misogynistic. All systems of power, no matter how apparently altruistic have to be held accountable. The moment a child is harmed, violence becomes a reality in his or her life, and that is a social problem and has to be considered as an anomaly. Violence against women has to be seen as a crack in the facade of our society. We are the story tellers on the outer fringes and we must be able to have our stories heard. The legal system has to acknowledge its terrible track record in protecting women and prosecuting their attackers. Police who will not investigate should be prosecuted. Lawyers and judges have to be educated about what survivors need even if they feel helpless. Boys have to be raised as feminists in the truest sense, as lovers of women and girls.

5. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support any organisation that actively seeks to end what has severely limited my freedoms and the freedoms of so many other women. I am lucky. In spite of the consequences, I live an enjoyable, relatively functional, and free life, but I know I did nothing to create that luck. Many others just like me have died terribly, in fear, or have lost the ability to function in the pursuit of their own happiness. I want to do all I can to assist in the effort to see that not one more woman of any age or circumstances has to endure what I did. I will be the face of rape, and if you place my face on your website, I am able to reach so many more than I ever could alone. The community of survivors and allies needs your efforts, and I bow to you in deepest, most profound gratitude.

THE SURVIVOR STORIES PROJECT: Ashley Sapp, 26, USA

The Pixel Project is proud to present the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2014. The project runs throughout the month of May 2014 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 project 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.

This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held throughout 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and help raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

Our second Survivor Stories interview is with Ashley Sapp from the U.S.A.

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The Survivor Bio:

Ashley Sapp is a writer and wannabe editor from South Carolina. She is a language and literature enthusiast as well as an activist in the cause to end violence against women. She is also a survivor of rape and volunteers in her local community as well as with The Pixel Project. Her blog (chaosandwords.com) caters to the creative side of her brain, and she can also be found on twitter at @chaosandwords.

Ashley Sapp1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?

When I was 16, I attended a party where I was drugged and then raped. Because I was there with friends, I never thought twice that anything of that nature could happen to me. I am from a small town, and you simply didn’t hear much about gender-based violence… but that obviously didn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Afterwards, it took me a while to acknowledge what happened and even longer to not blame myself for it.

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

It was a one-time occurrence, and I didn’t get the chance to escape. It was partly like an out-of-body experience, where I was aware of what was happening to me but helpless to stop it.

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

For a long time, I didn’t heal. It was easier to pretend it never happened, to ignore it completely. However, I began to understand that even though I wasn’t dealing with the aftermath, I was suffering. I was depressed, anxious, and felt incredibly guilty as though it was somehow my fault. When I went to college and was surrounded by new faces in a new town, I finally went to therapy where I was also diagnosed with PTSD. I started writing about what happened, how I felt and thought about it, and began volunteering. I wanted other women to know they weren’t alone, that they have a voice and deserve to be heard. I wanted to help fight back.

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

Never let anyone or anything diminish your self-worth. These experiences do become part of you, true, but they do not define you. You are a survivor; believe that. Also, it is okay to not feel okay. You are not weak for it, but instead, when you are self-aware of your emotions, you can better help yourself through them. Remember that you are not alone and that there are resources and people out there who understand what you are going through. You WILL come out on the other side, and whatever has happened to you is not your fault. Though there are those who choose not to believe this sort of violence exists, the truth is in plain sight. You do not have to feel ashamed about the situations you are/were in, and you do not have to hide. You do have a voice, and no one can take that away from you. Every day is a new beginning, and sometimes it takes quite a few of them before you begin feeling whole again. Don’t lose hope in the possibility – it will keep you going.

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

Awareness and knowledge are key, so I think sharing facts, news, and resources is a great place to start. In doing so, we keep the discussion going and we can keep pushing the world to recognize how common violence against women is and that we can work to end it. Every individual who lends his/her voice to the cause helps move the cause forward, so I think enforcing the notion that we are not powerless is also important.

6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I support The Pixel Project because I believe in its cause – as a survivor, as a woman, as a human. The endless focus and energy on bringing an end to violence against women is dear to me because of my own experience that I share with thousands of others. It has given me strength, given me a way to fight back, given me hope that it is possible to turn things around.

A Few Words Before We Begin The Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project

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A very warm welcome to the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project!

Sharing one’s survivor story is a highly sensitive and personal decision. It isn’t an easy thing  to do so, especially when victim-blaming-and-shaming is the typical knee-jerk response to any form of Violence Against Women (VAW) in many communities and cultures worldwide. Consequently, most survivors subside into silence, preferring to recover from the abuse and rebuild their lives privately, quietly, peacefully.

We know this because we have listened to survivors (some of whom have been part of The Pixel Project team or who have supported our campaigns for years) tell us this.

We know this because when we do our daily curation of news about violence against women and girls worldwide to share via our social media channels, stories and interviews with VAW survivors are still too few and far between.

We – all of us, not just The Pixel Project team – should know this because with at least 1 in 3 women worldwide having faced some form of VAW in their lives, it is pretty much inevitable that some of our friends, family members, co-workers, classmates, and neighbours are survivors. We just don’t know who they are because they don’t talk about it.

I know this because my maternal grandmother who survived over half a century of abuse from my (now late) maternal grandfather doesn’t want to talk about it. Neither do my aunts, uncles, and my mother who all grew up witnessing their father’s violence against their mother, and who all escaped from home as soon as they finished high school. They consider it a shame and embarrassment to do so publicly, or even privately. “He’s dead. Let bygones be bygones” is the unspoken collective decision made by the majority.

This wall of silence surrounding the violence is still so entrenched in many families, communities, and cultures, that it is deafening. It exists not just because of the victim-blaming-and-shaming norms out there, but also because there still aren’t enough safe spaces and positive platforms for survivors to share their stories.

With this in mind, The Pixel Project created the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project as a positive way for survivors of any form of VAW to share their stories with an emphasis on how they survived and thrived after escaping the violence. It is our sincere hope that these stories will be beacons of hope that will inspire and lift the spirits of women and girls worldwide who are still experiencing abuse, or are in the process of rebuilding their lives.

When The Pixel Project sent out our calls for submissions for the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project, we had no idea what to expect… Then our inbox started filling up with interview submissions: Story after story from women who have survived VAW and have gone on to live successful and positive violence-free lives. They poured out their hearts in the interview sheets, not just telling us about their VAW experience, but also eager to share advice, tips, information and encouraging words with women and girls who are victims of VAW.

In fact, we were inundated: we received so many submissions that it was extremely difficult to select just 31 stories to feature throughout May 2014 in conjunction with Mother’s Day. Every submission we received spoke volumes about the awe-inspiring resilience of the human spirit and the mighty courage of the human heart. Each story is unique, yet collectively they carry the same positive message for victims and survivors everywhere: Surviving and thriving after escaping the violence is possible, and healing may be a long journey but there are steps you can take to get there and there is light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

Ever mindful of the fact that VAW takes so many forms  (including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, acid attacks, child marriage etc) and cuts across social, class, racial, religious, geographical, and cultural lines, we tried our best to ensure that the stories selected are as inclusive as possible and present a spectrum of perspectives from women from all walks of life. For this project, it was a challenge because even though we sent out repeated calls-to-action specifically welcoming women of colour, women from developing nations, aboriginal/native women, submissions from them remained in the minority. Nevertheless, this is only the beginning and we will continue to work on creating and providing platforms that give survivors of VAW from across the world opportunities to share their stories and work on stopping VAW.

To the survivors who have stepped up to share your stories with the world through us: We salute your courage in doing so – it is a great honour for us to be entrusted to help you share your stories with the world.

To our supporters and the person on the (digital) street who reads these stories: We hope that this series of stories will give you much food for thought and perhaps inspire you to take action to stop violence against women and girls in your communities and beyond.

And finally: This project is also part of a programme of initiatives held in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign that is in benefit of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Pixel Project. Donate at just US$1 per pixel to help reveal the mystery Celebrity Male Role Models and be part of a global effort to raise US$1 million for the cause while raising awareness about the important role men and boys play in ending violence against women in their communities worldwide. Please donate generously to help us stay alive and to keep projects like this one running – donations begin at just US$10 and you can donate via the Pixel Reveal website here or the Pixel Reveal Razoo donation page here.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

With a heart full of love and hope,

Regina Yau — Founder and President of The Pixel Project

On behalf of The Pixel Project team

 

CALL TO ACTION: The Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project

Blog and PenIn honour of Mother’s Day 2014,  The Pixel Project cordially invites women and girls who have survived gender-based violence to join the Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project which will debut on 1 May 2014.

The project will feature an interview with a survivor per day on The Pixel Project’s blog throughout the month of May 2014. 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 2014 in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign which aims to:

  • Raise US$1 million for NCADV and 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, 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 form in English; then returning it to The Pixel Project by emailing it to info@thepixelproject.net or pixelprojectteam@gmail.com by the new extended deadline of 25 April 2014.

To download the interview sheet, click this link:

http://reveal.thepixelproject.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/The-Pixel-Project-Survivor-Stories-Project-Interview-Sheet_25April2014.doc

For further information and assistance:

Email The Pixel Project team – info@thepixelproject.net  

For more information about the Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign:

Visit http://reveal.thepixelproject.net