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 first Survivor Stories interview is with Tauheedah Jabar from the U.S.A.
The Survivor Bio:
Tauheedah C. Jabaar is a promising up-and-coming author. Her current biography “DANCING BY MYSELF” is slated for publication later this year. She survived abused from a violent abuser when she and her children escaped potential death at his hands in 1993. As a member of the Speakers Bureau with Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (AZCESDV), she was awarded their annual Courage of Conviction award in 2007. Now a poet, writer, videographer, photographer, mentor, songstress and founder of Lavendre9Productions, Tauheedah and her children produce public service announcements on domestic violence and child abuse to raise awareness for others walking in their shoes. Her field of work has always been in Healthcare. Her last job was her favourite – she was a Teen Coordinator at LUKE AFB in Glendale Arizona for eight years. Tauheedah resides in Phoenix, Arizona with her family of 9 children, 19 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?
I had my first son at 14 years old after having sex for the first time. I was determined that I would be the best mom that I could, finishing high school 6 months ahead of my classmates. I worked part-time and when I was 18 I moved into my own place. I got married, divorced, and left town. There I began pen paling with a prisoner at Reidsville State Prison for many years. While waiting, I married someone else, divorced and ran into the now paroled ex-con. This was 20 years ago. We eventually married and lived a wonderful life for the first 4 years of our 7-year marriage UNTIL…my daughter reached puberty. He eventually sexually claimed her as his own. When I found out, I planned our escape from that violent, ruthless man. My ex-husband had inflicted physical beatings upon us all, marital rape, molestation of my daughters leading to rape of my oldest daughter whom he threatened into silence. One day, she observed him molesting our baby girl (he and I had 3 children within the marriage) and she revealed his actions. A few of my sons had also endured sodomy and physical hardships at his hands. Due to the extreme violence within the household, it took me 2 years to plan my escape but I was eventually able to safely leave our abuser with my eight children.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
Over the course of a year I hid small plastic bags of clothes for the kids in an abandoned car along with a few dollars every time I got an allowance from my ex-husband. I put birth certificates and copies of all ID’s in a safety deposit xox. I had to pretend every day that all was well and that I loved him like no other, knowing our fate if he ever suspected we were going to try to leave him. The day I escaped I took my 8 children to the local Greyhound Station, left my car in the lot, and we travelled from Atlanta to Phoenix over the span of 3 days. I arrived with 53 cents in my pocket.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
I began by journaling my story, which led to poetry writing, and eventually I produced and began singing my own song entitled DON’T HURT MY CHILDREN every time I was in front of an audience. I joined a women’s programme called Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and began the process of re-building my life. I joined the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence by joining their Speakers Bureau. Today I speak before judges, legislatures, Level IV sex offender prisoners, churches and whoever asks for me to appear. I won the Courage of Conviction Award on the State Capitol lawn (the annual rally to end violence against women) for my struggles and triumph over domestic violence. My son, who was in the Navy, nominated me for this award.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
Use resources that are available to you. Use the trust of family or friends to plan your escape. Remember that the most deadly time in a violent relationship is the actual act of leaving. Keep all your plans private and secure. A change of address and restraining orders are vital. Keep a paper trail of e-mails and texts. Give the children’s schools a photograph of your abuser as well as copies of any legal orders or papers.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
I think with the technology we have available today we can spread the word that we are fighting this battle as a united front in seconds instead of years. Gatherings and rallies are great, so are surveys and other information highways that carry the message that we won’t give up or stop our fight to end violence against women. I have a series of PSAs on YouTube (Lavendre9Productions) which my children and I produced based on a book I have written (not published yet) about our journey out of violence. So you see, they, too have become advocates to end abuse.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I support The Pixel Project because from the first time I saw a post from them I was hooked and I knew that they were a force to be reckoned with. Over the years I have enjoyed and admired the work that they do to put an end to violence against women all over the world. So many of the articles on female genital mutilation, child marriages and women taking a stand over oppression have hit home for me because I am an American Muslim woman who was married 3 times to Muslim men who were all abusers. Thank you for all you do!