The Pixel Project is proud to present our second annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2015. The project runs throughout the month of May 2015 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 2015 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 seventeenth 2015 Survivor Stories interview is with Linsday Fischer from USA.
TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence survivors.
The Survivor Bio:
Lindsay Fischer is a former high school English teacher, turned domestic violence author, advocate and public speaker. Over the last four years, she’s written a blog and guest posted across the internet as Sarafina Bianco, even self-publishing her memoir, The House on Sunset, under this name. In April, Lindsay identified herself as the author and furthered her reach by doing trainings with organisations impacted by DV and sharing her story with anyone who will listen. She hopes to humanise abuse, debunking societal myths and detailing trauma. You can find her words and mission at http://survivorswillbeheard.com.
I survived an eighteen-month violent relationship with a sociopath (outwardly successful, handsome and intelligent, but inwardly dangerous), including physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual and financial abuse.
During my relationship, I lost my job. After leaving, I lost my house and car. At twenty seven years old, I was unemployed and homeless, only three years after starting a successful career as a high school English teacher.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
Before leaving, I feared escaping because I thought he’d kill me if I tried. A few days before I left, he held a gun to my head, telling me, that he loved me so much he could kill me. Then, the day I left, he threw me down a flight of stairs and kicked and choked me on the basement floor. I knew in that moment, that he was going to kill me whether I stayed or left, so I made the choice to leave.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
For the first year afterward, coping was difficult. I was self-harming and self-medicating to deal with my PTSD. My experience taught me that the aftermath is just as difficult to cope with as the abuse, but I couldn’t afford therapy due to the financial abuse. Searching for a way to heal, I began blogging under my pseudonym.
When other survivors reached out to me, sharing their stories and thanking me for mine, I realised that writing was helping. Along with that, someone wrote me about non-profits who offer free trauma therapy. One Google search later, I found a local group that offered free trauma therapy and called them immediately. The wait list was long, but six months later I started their programme, graduating three years after I began. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitszation and Reprocessing), individual and group therapy were all included.
Sometime during that period, I wrote my book and started a Twitter chat called #domesticviolencechat to reach other survivors. I began teaching again and moved to distance myself from my abuser. The process was long and hard, but absolutely critical to rebuilding.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
It’s normal to feel alone and normal to question your thoughts, beliefs and actions. Being traumatised shuts down the logical part of your brain, and getting that to work again can be difficult. Look for ways to heal yourself, especially if you can find a non-profit who offers any type of support. You can find these by reaching out to big organisations like NCADV. Even in the painful moments of life after trauma, it’s still more rewarding and worth it than staying in a dangerous environment.
Talk to other people who’ve survived what you have, practice self-care every day, and remember that you’re not alone, you can heal and there are people who want to help.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
By continuing to have the hard conversations about the existence of VAW and educating society about its prevalence. Our culture doesn’t realsze how engrained VAW is in mainstream life (including media) and we need to be adamant about pointing this out as we continue progressing towards a safer world.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
Because the Pixel Project supports women like me, who’ve survived violence. They also educate society. One look at their mission statement better explains how their purpose aligns with mine. It’s time we stand up, all of us (men and women) against this violence. The Pixel Project helps.