The Pixel Project is proud to present our fourth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2017. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2017 and features an interview per day with a survivor of any form of violence against women (VAW) including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, stalking, online violence against women, female genital mutilation, forced/child marriage, sex trafficking, breast ironing etc. This campaign 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.
Our 14th Survivor Stories interview is with Martha Wells from the USA.
TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Stalking survivors.
The Survivor Bio:
Martha Wells is a science fiction and fantasy writer whose first novel was published in 1993. Her most recent series are The Books of the Raksura for Night Shade Books, and The Murderbot Diaries for Tor.com. She has also written short stories, media tie-ins for Star Wars and Stargate: Atlantis, YA fantasies, and non-fiction. Ms. Wells’ picture is (c) Igor Kraguljac.
When I was in college, I was stalked by a former male friend. This was someone I had known since my freshman year and trusted. He decided he wanted to date me, and when I didn’t want to, he left me a note threatening to kill me. I reported it to the police, who talked to him and told me they thought they had scared him and hoped that he would leave me alone. He convinced several mutual friends that I had been his girlfriend and that we had had a sexual relationship, and that I was cheating on him. He used mutual friends to keep tabs on me and pressure me into “coming back” to this relationship with him that I had never had.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I think I was just lucky. Before the stalking started, I only saw him when I was with other people. I noticed that his behaviour toward me had changed, and that he was trying to get me alone. I started to avoid him without really knowing why. I didn’t really understand what was happening until he threatened to kill me. He attended the same SF/F conventions and events as I did, and I had to be extremely careful to avoid him and not be trapped alone with him anywhere.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
It just took time. It took me a long time to be able to trust people again, especially after seeing how many of the people I thought were friends either didn’t take my fear of him seriously, believed that I had had a sexual relationship with him or just didn’t seem to believe I had the right to refuse him since he “loved” me so much.
This was in the 1980s, and stalking wasn’t really understood at that time the way it was now, so there weren’t a lot of options for help. Almost every girl I knew in college was stalked at some point, either by strangers or men that they knew.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
Try to listen to your instincts, and if something someone says or does worries or frightens you, don’t try to rationalise or ignore it.
If a friend doesn’t believe that you’ve been stalked or tries to get you to “make up” with someone who frightens you, then that person is not your friend.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
I think education, especially about consent, starting as early as possible, can help a lot. Teach kids to respect each other as people, teach boys that girls are not somehow less deserving of bodily autonomy than they are.
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
It’s an important source of support, information, and help to women who badly need it. If we don’t talk about violence towards women and make people aware of the violence women face often on a daily basis, we have no hope of ending it.
Editor’s note: Watch Martha talk about feminism, surviving stalking, and eradicating violence against women in our Read For Pixels Google Hangout recording below.