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 8th 2018 Survivor Stories interview is with Cathy Green from the USA.
TRIGGER WARNING: The first two Q&As in this interview may be distressing for some Domestic Violence and Rape survivors.
The Survivor Bio:
My name is Cathy Green and I am currently on disability and a full-time student. I work as a relief staff member at a domestic violence shelter in Minnesota. I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of my now ex-husband, and am now passionate about educating people about domestic violence and committed to finding a way to cut down the deaths and horrific suffering caused by this epidemic. I enjoy listening to music, watching movies and spending time with family and friends. I have a wonderful fiancé, two adult daughters, an 8-year-old son, a dog, a cat and a guinea pig.
1. What is your personal experience with gender-based violence (this may include domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation etc)?
I am a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of my now ex-husband. He didn’t want a divorce so he pulled me out of bed where I was laying with our 4-year-old son. He tried to kill me with a machete and left me for dead. He then took our son and went on the run for 6 hours.
An arrest was made and my son was returned after an AMBER alert was issued.
He is now serving life plus 30 years in prison.
2. How did you escape the violent situation/relationship/ritual?
I was with my husband for 6 and a half years. I had kicked him out once and had left him a couple times. Once I left for a domestic violence shelter where my children and I stayed for 30 days, and once I left to go to my own apartment where my children and I stayed for 9 months with the financial help from the local domestic violence shelter.
3. How did you heal and rebuild your life after the violent situation/relationship/ritual? What actions did you take?
My ex’s attack with a machete left me moments from death and left me with permanent physical disabilities. So I had healing to do both physically and mentally.
For my physical healing I had intensive rehabilitation. My attack left me paralysed on my left side. It has been a long and brutal process; I’ve had multiple hand surgeries, and painful and specialised hand therapy.
Mentally I have gone through such therapies as prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) to help me with trauma and PTSD. Attending support groups with other survivors has been helpful and I recently attended a healing retreat where I bonded with other women who have had similar experiences.
4. What would you suggest to or share with another woman or girl facing the same situation as you did?
I would tell them to leave sooner and stay gone. I would suggest researching domestic violence statistics. I would suggest blocking his number and focusing on healing. I would suggest flipping the cycle of abuse around and instead of focusing on getting back into the honeymoon phase, focus on the ugly hateful things he has done in the explosion stage…after all, that is the abuser’s authentic self – the honeymoon phase is his manipulation. I also found it helpful to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter as well as going back to school for my degree.
5. How do you think we can end violence against women?
I feel educating young people about boundaries as well as teaching them how to recognise red flags is crucial in preventing future victims. I think men mentoring young men into being respectful is key.
We also need more and better resources to equip women for after they leave: much more emotional support, financial education, low cost housing and possibly parenting classes
6. Why do you support The Pixel Project?
As a survivor I know the importance of supporting fellow survivors and trying to educate those who may still be in abusive situations and relationships. I support all organisations that are trying to break down this horrible social injustice. I hope that one day EVERY person knows the important steps they can take to create a safe and healthy relationship.