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 twenty fourth Survivor Stories interview is with Paula Lucas from the U.S.A.
The Survivor Bio:
Paula Lucas is an international survivor of domestic violence, an author, and Founder & Executive Director of the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) and the Sexual Assault Support & Help for Americans Abroad Program (SASHAA). She lived overseas as an American expat for 14 years, living and traveling in Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East. She escaped her abusive ex-husband with her three sons and fled home to the USA for safety in 1999. She has dedicated the past 15 years of her life to helping other American women and children abused in foreign countries.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?
Living overseas as an American expat, everyone thought I had the perfect life, but my three sons and I were in a living hell. My ex-husband was brutally abusive – emotionally, psychologically, and physically. He would describe in graphic detail how he was going to kill us, then kill himself. I was trapped and the American Embassy couldn’t help me get out. I was left on my own to escape.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I feel like God sent me an angel. A thief robbed my ex-husband on a train in Germany and he couldn’t get back in the country. I was able to find my children’s passport, and forge some documents for some money. I fled in the middle of the night, taking a plane from Dubai to New York, then a train across country to Portland, Oregon to my sister’s home with my small boys.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
I put all of my energy into helping other American women and children suffering in foreign countries. That was my therapy. I only wanted to look forward, instead of back. I have a very supportive family, too, and I am now married to a wonderful man. I wrote a book last year, Harvesting Stones, An American Woman’s International Journey of Survival. I was surprised by the suppressed trauma that surfaced but, through writing my story, I purged those terrible years. I feel completely free of my abuser now.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
There is help; you don’t have to suffer alone. If you are an American woman, or a foreign woman married to an American man overseas, please visit www.866uswomen.org for directions on how to contact us. Our crisis centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
We must teach our sons ways to express their emotions non-violently. It takes men to stop violence against women.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
The Pixel Project’s Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign showcases male role models who demonstrate that violence against women is unacceptable. This is the best way to stop violence against women. This organisation is awesome!