The Pixel Project is proud to present our fifth annual Survivor Stories Blog Interview Project in honour of Mother’s Day 2018. The annual campaign runs throughout the month of May 2018 and features up to 31 interviews 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 3rd 2018 Survivor Stories interview is with Nanette Chezum from the USA. 


The Survivor Bio:

My name is Nanette Chezum and I am a thriving survivor of verbal and psychological intimate partner violence. I live in Denver, Colorado. I am 48 years old and I am an executive assistant and a domestic abuse advocate. I volunteer with several domestic violence organisations in the state as well as a national organisation. I am a public speaker and educator in my community. My platform is educating about the early warning signs that a relationship is heading toward abuse and informing people that before a relationship reaches physical violence, it always starts with verbal and psychological abuse. When I am not working, I am an avid hiker, I enjoy movies and the theatre as well as travel.


ss-2018-nanette-chezum1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?

I was in a verbally and psychologically abusive relationship for most of 2015 with a law enforcement officer. I had been in unhealthy relationships in the past, but never experienced anything like the time I spent with him. Both sides of my family have histories of physical and sexual violence and when that is someone’s ‘normal’ world it is much easier for a predator to sense and make their move.


2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?

Actually, he was the one that broke it off with me! I thank my lucky starts every single day the relationship ended when it did.

I started to question him about stories he had told me about his past; things that just didn’t add up and make sense to me. I had started digging into his background and found a history of verbal and psychological abuse as well as a relationship that had escalated to physical abuse. I confronted him about his behaviour and I believe he noticed the gig was up and he couldn’t manipulate me anymore, so he ended it.


3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?

I immediately entered therapy with a therapist that specialises in domestic violence. It is crucial to get a therapist that is an expert in domestic violence. I did a lot of online research, which is a normal part of processing in the beginning. I reached out to a national organisation searching for answers. I was embarrassed at first, but eventually began telling my story to friends and co-workers. I reached out to his chief of police to warm him that his officer is abusive. An investigator was assigned to hear me and for that I am grateful.


4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?

You are not crazy, you are not damaged. You are strong, bold and beautiful. You have reserves of strength inside of you. Abuse escalates…it doesn’t suddenly stop to never return. It takes periodic breaks, but it always returns and with a bigger fury. Please leave. However, I know that is easier said than done.


5. How do you think we can end violence against women?

It is not the responsibility of the target of violence to end the violence. It starts with society listening and educating themselves and communities about violence committed against women and girls. It involves trauma-informed law enforcement no longer looking at domestic violence as a black and white issue. It involves an overhaul of an entire judicial system that tends to exhibit biased behavior against women and girls. It all starts with believing survivors.


6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?

I love that the Pixel Project educates and informs worldwide on so many topics of violence committed against women and girls. Every time I read a new social media post, I learn so much. Thank you for the work you do.