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