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 eighth Survivor Stories interview is with Kristin Brumm from the U.S.A.
The Survivor Bio:
Kristin Brumm is a writer and non-profit executive living in Kansas with her two children. Her blog Wanderlust was voted into the Circle of Mom’s top 10 Most Inspiring Blogs as a result of her honest and poignant writings about her experiences with domestic violence. She was a Voice of the Year and Keynote Speaker at the 2011 Australian Bloggers Conference, and her essays have been published in several anthologies. She created the “Healing Through Storytelling” blog directory as a means of support for people who have experienced emotional or physical trauma.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence?
When I was nine, I was sexually molested by our gardener. This happened over the course of a summer. It ended when my brother witnessed one of the assaults and told my parents. He was arrested and convicted.
More recently, I was assaulted by my ex-husband as we were negotiating a divorce. He chased me into the bathroom and pounded several holes in the door as I called the police. Two weeks later, I discovered he was under investigation for possession and possible production of child pornography. I was absolutely gutted.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I knew that leaving my marriage would be difficult and potentially dangerous, but I wanted my children to be raised in a healthy and safe home. Not only was I physically afraid of my husband, but he was a man of means and used his resources to wage an exhausting legal battle for custody.
The fact that my ex-husband was charged with possession of child pornography both helped and hindered our safety. His imprisonment means that I am physically safe. However, it took three years for his case to wind through the courts and during that time I was very frightened for our safety. I was fortunate in that I had a network of friends and even strangers that offered us safe housing until he was convicted.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
I write a blog and when I was first assaulted, I made the difficult decision to speak openly about my experiences with violence. The response was phenomenal. Women and men from all over the world wrote to offer their support and friendship. They reminded me daily that I was strong, brave and compassionate, which was a balm after years of psychological abuse. They were a hundred sets of hands holding a net to catch my fall.
The other thing I did was to explore some of the new brain-based therapies, such as EMDR and EFT, which studies have shown to offer fast and lasting healing, especially with symptoms of PTSD. I found them to be effective and hugely beneficial in helping me move beyond the trauma and reclaim my confidence and joy of life. I am intrigued by the inherent power of our brains, bodies and emotions to recover and heal from even significant trauma.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
I think first and foremost we need to listen to our instincts. Our intuition is our guardian and we need to respect and honour that deep wisdom.
Secondly, I think expression can be healing. While it may not always be safe to speak out publicly, as I did, we can still do so privately. When we tell our stories, we get to craft a unique narrative about our experiences and imbue it with our own meaning. In so doing, we take back the reins. Storytelling is empowering and tremendously healing, not only for ourselves, but for those who read and connect with our stories.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
When we share our personal stories, it provides a vehicle through which others can empathise with us. If I share my story with you, perhaps you will see that we are not all that different. We both feel fear and grief and joy, and we both love our children with abandon. It bridges the gap between “us” and “them”. When we share our stories about violence, then victims of violence cease to become a faceless demographic that others can objectify and distance themselves from. Instead, the faces of violence become personal and intimate, which in turn raises understanding and compassion.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
I think technology and social media are powerful tools for driving dialogue and awareness. We are in the unique position today of being able to instantly connect with people from a variety of backgrounds from all over the world. The Pixel Project capitalises on this power by using it to creatively disseminate ideas and raise awareness. I love the thought that I can participate in the same project as someone on the other side of the world and that, despite being strangers, we can be united in our shared experience.
I also like that The Pixel Project does not point to men as the problem, but rather embraces them as part of the solution. In the end, what matters is that we are all able to better understand and extend compassion to each other. Blaming and ostracism won’t heal our world. Only love will heal our world.