Transforming Personal Pain Into Positive Action: The Pixel Project’s 16 Female Role Models 2016

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Today is the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence 2016 campaign and The Pixel Project is kicking things off with our 6th annual list of 16 female role models fighting to end violence against women in their communities. The intent of this list is simple: to highlight the good work of the heroines of the movement to end violence against women wherever they are in the world. The women and girls in this year’s list hail from 16 countries and 6 continents.

Many of these outstanding women and girls have shown that it is possible to transform personal pain that came out of facing gender-based violence into positive action to stop violence against women, empower themselves and to show other survivors that it is possible to move forward with dignity and happiness. They have refused to let bitterness and pain get the better of them, opting instead to stand up for themselves and for other women and girls.

Others on this list may not have experienced gender-based violence first hand, but they have stepped up to do what is right: to speak up for women and girls who cannot do it for themselves, sometimes at great personal risk. All this requires immense courage, generosity of spirit and a strong enduring heart.

Here in alphabetical order by first name is our 2016 list of 16 female role models. We hope that these women are an inspiration to others to get involved in the cause. To that end, we hope you will generously share this list via Facebook and Twitter to give these extraordinary 16 women and their work a moment in the sun.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Note: Information for all role model profiles is sourced via online research and is based on one or more news sources, articles and/or The Pixel Project’s own interviews with them. The main articles/reports from which these profiles have been sourced can be directly accessed via the hyperlinked titles. Please do click through to learn more about these remarkable women.

Written and compiled by Regina Yau

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Female Role Model 1: Balkissa Chaibou – Niger

balkissa-chaibou_croppedBalkissa Chaibou wanted to become a doctor, but when she was 12 she found out that she had been promised as a bride to her cousin. She fought to get out of the pending marriage by taking her family to court and seeking refuge at a women’s shelter until the bridegroom’s party left. Balkissa is now 19 and she campaigns for other girls to say “no” to forced marriage. She visits schools, speaks to tribal chiefs about the issue, and has also spoken at a UN summit on reducing maternal mortality, which is a health issue linked to early marriage.

Female Role Model 2: Bogaletch Gebre – Ethiopia

bogaletch-gebre_croppedBogaletch Gebre is a victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) who was born in Kembatta, a region in Ethiopia where FGM was endemic and women were largely uneducated. She learned to read by visiting the church school under the pretext of collecting water and eventually received a scholarship to study in the U.S and Israel. She returned to Ethiopia to help better the lives of women and girls and has spent 16 years campaigning for women’s rights in Ethiopia. Through her relentless activism, Gebre has successfully reduced the rate of FGM in some parts of the country from 97% to just 3%.

Female Role Model 3: Clementine Ford – Australia

clementine-ford_croppedMelbourne-based Clementine Ford is an Australian feminist and author who has has written and spoken up fiercely and consistently about male violence against women, first in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail and opinion pieces in the Drum, then in the Fairfax website Daily Life. Her book Fight Like A Girl is part memoir and part polemic – detailing her development as a feminist and addressing the issue of violence against women head on. Ford is seen as a feminist who led “feminism back into the boxing ring” as she fights back against silencing and harassment online by naming and shaming men who verbally attack or threaten her, often replying to them publicly.

Female Role Model 4: Fatou Bensouda – Gambia

fatou-bensouda_croppedAs a high school student, Fatou Bensouda would sneak into nearby courts to watch the proceedings and she noticed that women in particular were not “receiving the protective embrace of the law. For me that is one of the things that informed my decision to say, ‘This is what I want to do.’” Today, Bensouda is the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague where she works to mete out justice to war criminals and genocidal despots. Her own position as a woman from West Africa has also informed the character of Bensouda’s ICC – she has made it an explicit goal of the court to challenge the rape and exploitation of women and children in war.

Female Role Model 5:  Frida Farrell – Sweden

frida-farrell_croppedWhen she was in her early twenties, Swedish actress Frida Farrell was tricked into attending a fake photoshoot, kidnapped, drugged and sexually trafficked to men in an apartment on London’s upmarket Harley Street. Over a decade after she escaped her abusers, Farrell co-wrote the film Selling Isobel which was based on her harrowing experiences in the hope that her story will stop other women getting into the same situation. She said: “I wanted people watching to know that it could happen to any girl,” Frida explains. “You don’t have to be foreign, poor or not speak the language. People think these kinds of things just happen to poor immigrants, but it could happen to English girls too.”

Female Role Model 6: Jacqueline de Chollet – Switzerland

jacqueline-de-chollet_croppedOver the past 30 years Jacqueline de Chollet has been active in the fields of Women’s Health, Social Justice, Education, Public Housing, and the Arts. She created the The Global Foundation for Humanity U.S. and the Association du Project Veerni to support the Veerni Project – a project that tackles the issue of child marriage in Rajasthan, India by improving the health and education girls and women in the region. de Chollet said: “We believe that by giving these girls access to education, health and the workplace, Veerni can empower them to take their rightful place in the lives of their communities and their country. Only then will they be able to exercise their human rights and live free from coercion disease and poverty.”

Female Role Model 7: Laura Dunn – United States of America

Laura Dunn is the Founder and Executive Director of SurvJustice, a national nonprofit providing legal assistance to sexual violence survivors across the U.S. She founded SurvJustice after being raped by two men from her crew team at the University of Wisconsin in April 2004. She said: “Afterwards, I struggled for years through campus, criminal and civil systems without receiving justice. Through this tragic experience, I learned about the laws and how to advocate for survivors.” In 2014, Dunn graduated the University of Maryland Carey School of Law where she received the William P. Cunningham Award for her national campus sexual assault advocacy, which includes passing the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization and advising the White House Task Force to Protect Students Against Sexual Assault.

Female Role Model 8: Loubna Abida – Morocco

Moroccan actress Loubna Abidar was vilified and assaulted for playing a local prostitute in the award-winning film Much Loved, ultimately sending her into exile as a refugee in France. However, she refuses to be silenced by fatwas, online death threats and violence. In her autobiography La Dangereuse, Abidar frankly discusses how she went from overcoming poverty, exclusion and physical and sexual attacks by her father to becoming one of North Africa’s the most acclaimed young actresses and feminist voices in recent years. In an interview with Women Of The World, Abidar said: “In the Arab world generally we have this problem of rapes committed by people known to the victims — by relatives, fathers, uncles. I don’t only talk about my own story, I have done a lot of work with activist associations, especially with little girls living in the mountains.”

Female Role Model 9: Nadia Murad Basee Tahar – Iraq

On August 3, 2014, when ISIS militants attacked Nadia Murad Basee Tahar’s village of Kocho, Iraq. Six of her nine brothers were killed. Murad (then 19 years old) and her two sisters were forced into sexual slavery while their mother was executed as she was considered too old to be a sex slave. Murad was raped, tortured, and beaten frequently until she escaped and made her way to Germany where she began devoting her life to assisting other Yazidi women and girls who have suffered as she did. Murad is now a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. In September 2016, Murad announced Nadia’s Initiative which is dedicated to helping women and children victimised by genocide and crimes against humanity.

Female Role Model 10: Omaima Hoshan – Syria

omaima-hoshan_cropped15-year-old Omaima Hoshan, a Syrian refugee, runs workshops to discourage child marriage in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp. “When I see young girls getting married, it scares me,” Hoshan says in a video from the United Nations refugee agency. “Girls from my home have their future lost or destroyed. This is something I can’t accept.” Hoshan leads girls in drawing, acting and lecture sessions, spreading information about underage marriage and encouraging girls to stay in school and to speak to their parents about the issue, according to Mashable.

Female Role Model 11: Rachana Sunar – Nepal

rachana-sunar_croppedWhen Rachana Sunar was 15 and still in school through a scholarship programme, she was informed by her parents she would marry a man she had never met before. Sunar escaped child marriage by misleading her parents into thinking that if she dropped out of school they’d have to pay for the past three years of her scholarship. Today, Sunar is a very vocal campaigner against child marriage in Nepal and says that dialogue is the only way to change entrenched attitudes to girls in rural Nepal.

Female Role Model 12: Radha Rani Sakher – Bangladesh

radha-rani-sarkher_croppedWhen Radha Sani Sakher was 14, she narrowly escaped an arranged marriage with the help of an educated cousin and her mother. Sakher returned to school with the help of her teachers and an aid group. Today she studies social sciences at Dinajpur’s regional university and is part of the “wedding busters” who campaign to stop child marriage. To date, she has saved 20 girls from forced marriages. Sakher’s goal is to build a centre for girls to find refuge from underage marriages until they are legally adults because “The situation has improved a little in recent years, but underage marriage still enjoys impunity.”

Female Role Model 13: Sarian Karim Kamara – Sierra Leone

sarian-karim-kamara_croppedSarian Karim Kamara underwent the brutal ritual of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) twice when she was just 11 years old. It took Kamara four years after becoming sexually active to get to know her body and experience her first orgasm. Today, she teaches other FGM survivors how to work with their bodies to experience sexual gratification and have a healthy sex life. Kamara said that an openness to explore one’s body in the wake of devastating physical trauma and a supportive sex partner are essential for FGM survivors to achieve sexual pleasure. “Even though the clitoris has been removed, that doesn’t stop us from having full capacity of pleasure during sex.”

Female Role Model 14: Tabassum Adnan – Pakistan

tabassum-adnan_croppedPakistani activist Tabassum Adnan was married off when she was just 13-years-old. After suffering 20 years of physical and mental abuse, Adnan divorced her husband, which resulted in the loss of her children, home, and finances. To help stop gender-based violence that commonly affect Pakistani women including forced marriage, child marriage, honour killings, acid attacks and domestic violence, she started the NGO Khwendo Jirga, a first of its kind women-only jirga, where women meet weekly to discuss violence against women and swara, or giving women as compensation for crimes.

Female Role Model 15: Vidya Bal – India

vidya-bal_croppedVeteran Indian feminist activist Vidya Bal has spent her life fighting against violence against women and other forms of gender discrimination. In 1982, she founded the Nari Samata Manch (Women Equality Forum) and has gone on to create, support, and counsel women’s groups. Bal said of her organisation’s work: “We want to create awareness that it is about being a good human being—and not about being a “feminine woman” or a “manly man.” Only then, we can aspire for an equitable society. This is a small experiment. I am hoping to make a small difference. Often I meet young boys telling me that after listening to my lectures their perspective of girls changed! Maybe that’s just a temporary thing—but still a good thing.”

Female Role Model 16: Zahra Yaganah – Afghanistan

zahra-yaganah_croppedZahra Yaganah grew up as an Afghan refugee in Iran and, at 13, was married off to a violent man. Today, her book Light Of Ashes – part fiction, part memoir – which chronicles her traumatic life as a child bride is one of the fastest-selling books in Afghanistan. Using her writing to speak out, Yaganah breaks taboos by explicitly writing about taboo topics including marital rape, menstruation and the lifelong damage caused by child marriages. Yaganah hopes that her book will help Afghan women break free of the violence. “It is impossible for Afghan women to read this book and not find an issue that reflects their life story,” she said. “Women can find their path, despite all the problems they have.”

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Photo Credits:

  1. Balkissa Chaibou – From “The girl who said ‘no’ to marriage” (BBC News Online)
  2. Bogaletch Gebre – From “How Bogaletch Gebre is Bringing an End to Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia” (KMG via ibtimes.co.uk)
  3. Clementine Ford – From “This is why we have women-only spaces, and why I don’t want to hear your complaints” (The Sydney Morning Herald)
  4. Fatou Bensouda – From “Fatou Bensouda, the woman who hunts tyrants” (Judith Jockel/The Guardian)
  5. Frida Farrell – From “The Sex Trafficking Victim Who Turned Her Nightmare Into A Feature Film (Huckmagazine.com)
  6. Jacqueline de Chollet – Courtesy of Jacqueline de Chollet
  7. Laura Dunn – Courtesy of Laura Dunn
  8. Loubna Abida – From “Actress Loubna Abidar refuses to be silenced by fatwas, death threats or violence” (Pierre Terdjman/New York Times)
  9. Nadia Murad Basee Tahah – From “A Yezidi Woman Who Escaped ISIS Slavery Tells Her Story” (Kirsten Luce/Time)
  10. Omaima Hoshan – From “This 15-Year-Old Syrian Girl Is Campaigning Against Child Marriage in Her Refugee Camp” (Makers.com)
  11. Rachana Sunar – From  “Child marriage in Nepal: ‘A girl is a girl, not a wife’ (Rachana Sunar/The Guardian)
  12. Radha Rani Sakher – From “Bangladesh’s ‘Wedding buster’ takes on illegal child marriage” (Bas Bogaerts/Plan International)
  13. Sarian Karim Kamara – From “Decades after undergoing genital cutting, woman teaches other FGM survivors how to enjoy sex” (Women Of The World/New York Times)
  14. Tabassum Adnan – From “Pakistani activist wins Nelson Mandela award 2016” (Tabassum Adnan/The Express Tribune)
  15. Vidya Bal – From “Meet the Feminist Fighting India’s Entrenched Misogyny” (Frances Smith/Vice)
  16. Zahra Yaganah – From “The former child bride who is using her story to liberate Afghan women” (Andrew Quilty/The Guardian)

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The ’16 for 16’ 2015 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to our annual Special Edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest for the “16 For 16” campaign. In this edition, we bring you the top 16 news headlines in each category related to violence against women from the past year.

2015 saw landmark decisions by countries to eradicate female genital mutilation as Nigeria and Gambia both outlaw the practice and the United Kingdom makes it compulsory to report its occurrence. Initiatives against domestic violence have also seen progress with countries adopting new measures to help protect women. Silicon Valley giants like Twitter, Reddit and Google have also taken steps to decrease occurrence of violence against women online.

To start off, here are the 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2015:

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter . It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team


Violence Against Women – General


Domestic Violence


Rape and Sexual Assault


Human/Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Forced Marriage and Honour Killing


Activism

16 Ways That Kids and Teens Can Help Stop Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence Against Women (VAW) is one of the biggest and most brutal human rights issues in the world with 1 in 3 women experiencing some form of gender-based violence at some point in their lives. Like many human rights issues, VAW affects not just adults but also kids and teenagers. Many women and girls face domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, street harassment, cyber-VAW, human trafficking, and forced prostitution. Certain forms of gender-based violence such as female genital mutilation (FGM), breast ironing, and child marriage are performed exclusively on girls under the age of 18.

VAW is perpetuated, enforced, and normalised by centuries of social and cultural norms which work to preserve the patriarchal status quo in all but a handful of cultures worldwide. To effectively end VAW for good, advocates, activists, and communities need to take the long view because it would take several generations of progress before change can be permanent… and it has to begin with children and young people.

Educating children and teenagers about sexual consent and gender equality is an important part of changing the world into one where women and girls can reach their full potential in safety and peace. However, we also need to get young people involved in actively preventing and stopping the violence.  Indeed, in recent years, a movement of young people from teenage Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai to 18-year-old Afghani Rap artiste Sonita Alizadeh have risen to fight for an end to VAW and ensure a better future for them and their sisters.

As a starting point for all kids and teens out there, here are 16 ideas that you can put into action to help stop VAW. This is just a starting point. If there are alternative ways in which you feel they can contribute, do it because helping end violence doesn’t come with an age restriction.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Written by Samantha Carroll and Regina Yau. Introduction by Regina Yau.

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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At School

Ideas For Kids and Teens #1: Recognise the Signs. Recognising the signs is the first step towards helping prevent and intervene to stop VAW. Forms of VAW that kids and teens might come across in their communities and among their peers include relationship violence, street harassment, rape/sexual assault, child/forced marriage, and female genital mutilation – all of which can affect girls under the age of 18. Each type of VAW carries certain signs that you can spot if you know what to look for. For example: Some of the signs to be aware of when you are in a relationship or someone you care about is in a relationship, are control and manipulation, jealousy bordering on possessiveness, belittling, an unpredictable temper and isolation from social circles and family. So make an effort to learn what the signs are and you may well be able to save a girl or woman’s life or change it for the better.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #2: Demand For Education. Officially, school is where you get your formal education – where you learn maths, languages, history, and science. Unofficially, school is also where you learn to fit into society by knowing what is normal and what is unacceptable. This includes relationships and gender roles. So get pro-active with creating a school culture where misogyny, sexism, bullying, and VAW is not tolerated. Some actions you can take include: rallying your school to invite experts, anti-VAW activists and abuse survivors to talk about VAW with everyone. Lobbying for your school to offer a proper sex education module which includes the subject of sexual consent and healthy respectful relationships.

kids-reading-1-1470509Ideas For Kids and Teens #3: Read! Read! Read! Reading is one of the ways that we get to step into other people’s shoes, and the Young Adult (YA) genre does a great job at helping us understand the feelings of girls who have experienced rape or who are stuck in abusive relationships.  Books dealing with subjects of violence toward girls and women help us empathise with those who have been affected by abuse. Talk to your school librarian and your teachers – ask them if it’s possible to include YA books that deal with these issues. If your school has a reading club, suggest a few YA titles for the entire group to read. No luck with your school librarian or your school doesn’t have a reading club? Get a group of friends together to pool some money to buy the books and take turns to read them. Here are a few books to get you, your friends, and your school started: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Don’t Breathe a Word by Holy Cupala, and SLUT by Katie Cappiello & Meg McInerney.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #4: Boys – Call It Out. If you are part of a sports team or any other all-male club at school or if you go to an all-boys school, chances are you would have heard some of your male peers speak disrespectfully about your female peers, female teachers, or female coaches using derogatory words such as “bitch”, “slut”, “whore” and so on. You might even have heard them crack jokes rape jokes, or witnessed some of them behave aggressively towards women and girls. Don’t stay silent – speak up and call out such behaviour when you come across it. Do it one-on-one or in a small group if you are all friends. If your peers who need to be called out are extremely dominant or hold more social power in your group than you do, seek out an adult for help with dealing with the situation before it escalates, be it a male teacher who is strongly anti-bullying or a coach who will not stand for sexist behaviour. Need more ideas? Check out the resources offered by the White Ribbon Campaign which is the largest movement of men and boys in the world fighting to end VAW.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #5: Girls – Support Your Sisters. In many cultures and communities, women and girls often have only one ally when facing down misogyny and VAW – other women and girls. However, many women and girls are also socialised to uphold these norms. For example: Grandmothers and mothers in various African and Asian cultures still play an instrumental role in perpetuating the custom of female genital mutilation. Part of helping stop VAW is by supporting other women and girls in defiance of (and to dismantle) cultural and social norms. Girls need to champion one another by mentoring and helping each other achieve their goals, and celebrating each other’s successes. And if you see your female peer face any form of VAW, get all your female friends together to stand up with her and for her.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #6: Take Action Together. Don’t think that you can’t help change things for women and girls because you’re “just a kid”. There’s nothing more powerful than kids standing up for the rights of their peers. Even more powerful would be kids standing together to stop VAW in schools and communities. This can be done in many ways ranging from two friends banding together to face down the Slut-shaming of a classmate,  to starting a feminist club at school where members can take collective action such as starting petitions to stop a classmate from being forced to marry and staging sit-ins to demand for stronger anti-bullying measures.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #7: Honour and Observe Awareness Days. Many schools honour and observe major festivals and public holidays as well as annual events such as Sports Day, Children’s Day, and Homecoming. So why not similarly honour and observe the various international awareness days related to women’s human rights, gender equality, and VAW, as part of efforts to stamp out VAW at school and your wide community? Some of the most high profile awareness days include International Women’s Day (March 8th), International Day of the Girl (October 11th), and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (November 25th – December 10th). Some of the ways in which you can get your school and/or peers involved. For example: older teens and college students can working with a supportive teacher or professor to put on a play such as The Vagina Monologues on the day itself or use the day to hold talks about VAW.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #8: Stop Slut-shaming NOW. We’ve all heard the tired old clichés trotted out when people discuss rape and sexual assault cases: “She was wasted”, “she was wearing a short skirt”, “she was asking for it”.  Even in cases when a woman or girl has said no during before or during a sexual altercation, she will more likely than not be blamed for the incident of rape by her peers and community, and even her family. Slut-shaming leads to victim blaming – don’t do it. Do this instead: speak up when other kids do it to a female classmate; don’t put down female friends and classmates who wear sexy clothes; push back against ridiculous double standards for school attire where boys are allowed carte blanche and girls are given a ridiculously long list of what not to wear.

At Home and in the Wider Community

Ideas For Kids and Teens #9: Ring The Bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing domestic violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. Do it safely – Ask a grown-up you know to go with you to intervene by using the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If no grown-ups are around and you’re out with your friends when you hear or witness domestic violence, gather your courage and ring the bell as a group – you could save someone’s life by interrupting the violence. Check out what this group of kids did in a PSA by our partner, Breakthrough:

Ideas For Kids and Teens #10: Use Your Birthday For Good. For your next birthday, start a collection drive by asking your friends and family members to contribute items needed by your local women’s shelter instead of bringing you a birthday gift. There are plenty of women’s shelters that accept donations in the form of clothes, bed linens, grocery gift cards, feminine hygiene products, toys and books for kids, and diapers for young children.  Encourage your female friends and family members to donate clothing that they no longer need.  It is important that the clothing donated is still usable, as some of the women receiving the clothes will likely wear donated items to job interviews or legal settings such as divorce/custody court.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #11: Volunteer In Your Spare Time. Young people are a talented bunch, so transform your talents into a superpower for good by helping anti-VAW organisations to raise funds or get things done. Here are just some of the things that you could do: If you are a whiz at building websites and programming, check in with local crisis centres that could use help keeping their websites up, or could just need computer assistance and maintenance. If you’re good at Photoshop, sign up to help design posters and flyers for your local women’s shelter’s next fundraiser. If you are well-versed at using Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media networks, offer to help keep your local anti-VAW organisation’s social media account up-to-date.

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Ideas For Kids and Teens #12: Social Media Rule #1 – Share to Care! If you’re a teenager on social media be it Tumblr, Instagram, or any other social media network, use your social media account to help raise awareness about VAW. Follow the social media accounts of anti-VAW activists and organisations and start sharing some of the news links, information, and pictures they share with their followers. You don’t need to reblog/retweet/share everything they do but if you see something you think is interesting, share it. Information is power and the one helping to spread the right information is powerful.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #13: Join The Online Intervention Brigade. According to UN Women, online VAW is rising as increased access to the internet collides with existing cultural and social norms that condone or perpetuate gender-based violence and misogyny. Young women in the age range of 18 to 24 are uniquely likely to experience online stalking and sexual harassment in addition to physical threats. If someone in your social media community exhibits this type of behaviour, take action to intervene safely in a number of ways. Talk privately to other members of the forum, page or community about what is happening and get their support to back each other up when facing down aggressive and misogynistic groups. Similarly, when you see someone courageously taking a cyber VAW perpetrator to task, chime in. This action has 3 effects: it lets the upstander know that someone else agrees with them; it signals to the victim that the community will not stand for the treatment she is receiving; and it lets the perpetrator(s) know that more than one person is calling out their behaviour.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #14: Break The Silence. Kids and teens from abusive families or communities that practice culturally-sanctioned VAW such as FGM are often taught or forced by grown-ups and elders to keep silent about what’s happening. Threats of punishment, guilt manipulation, and enforced isolation from the wider community are often used to keep kids and teens from getting help for themselves or their mothers and sisters. If you are a kid or teen in that situation, please know that you are not alone and that help is out there but you need to reach out to get it (or know how to accept it). Here are a couple of potential ‘first steps’ you can take: if you are part of an online community, reach out to your friends there to ask for help; if your teacher asks you to stay back because he or she notices that something is wrong, tell them what’s happening at home.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #15: Be A Friend. If you suspect that your friend and/or their female family member is suffering from any form of VAW, take action. Don’t stay silent if you notice bruises on them or that your friend has become uncharacteristically silent or angry all the time. Encourage your friend to talk about it with you and listen to them. If they are open to it, encourage them to report what’s happening to the authorities (and when they do, be there to support them). If you’re an older teen at a party, you see that your female friend is drunk, and a boy is propositioning her even though she cannot give consent, step in and offer to take her home if you can drive or order a cab and put her in it to send her home. If you feel like you are out of your depth about helping your friend, tell teachers, coaches, school counsellors and other grown-ups who can help.

Ideas For Kids and Teens #16: Adults Needs Reminders Too. Last but not least – grown-ups may be in charge but that doesn’t mean they are perfect or will do the right thing. Too many adults are good people who turn a blind eye when they see VAW happening. Some of them might feel that it’s pointless to intervene; some of them may be afraid to do so for fear of breaking social taboos; some of them may think that VAW is normal. If the grown-ups around you are reluctant to intervene to stop VAW happening to friends, neighbours, and family members because they believe it’s “none of our business”, give them a nudge to do the right thing by reminding them that VAW is wrong and woman and kids next door and/or in your family and community could get hurt or worse – killed.

As a young person, you have the power to shape a future where VAW becomes socially unacceptable. Someday, you might be that police detective who puts away a rapist, a teacher who stops a girl from being forced into marriage, or a politician who pushes through legislation to outlaw FGM for good. Today? Start by by doing what you can, where you are, with whatever you have – you never know whether one small action will start a whole movement for change.

The Pixel Project Selection 2015: 16 Songs About Violence Against Women (and Staying Strong and Positive)

Girl-Playing-Piano-1-198x300Music can help us transcend our pain in a way that not many other art forms are able to.  Music makes us feel less alone in our struggles because it often expresses how we feel in ways we cannot articulate.  The Pixel Project believes in the power of music to heal, inspire, and send a strong message about violence against women. This is reflected in our ongoing Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world. This past summer, we held The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, a 12-hour music marathon concert on Google Hangout which featured 23 artists from 5 countries.

This year’s 16 selections of Songs About Violence Against Women and Staying Strong and Positive, are from different genres and decades to ensure that everyone can find a track to be inspired by.  And if our list fails to inspire, it is our sincere hope that you find the soundtrack to your life none the less, as everyone needs a set of songs they can relate to in times of adversity.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Written and compiled by Samantha Carroll

Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015 

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Song Selection Number One: Anthem – Leonard Cohen

“There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Be unwavering in your conviction that everything will be all right and accept that perfection doesn’t exist – this is what Cohen is telling us with Anthem, a song that is as timeless as it is profound.

Song Selection Number 2: Black Eyes, Blue Tears – Shania Twain

With lyrics like “Definitely found my self-esteem / Finally I’m forever free to dream / No more cryin’ in the corner / No excuses no more bruises”, Canadian Country-Pop superstar Shania Twain’s Black Eyes, Blue Tears is a track that every survivor can rock out to, it’s a fierce and contains an authoritative NO! to abuse.

Song Selection Number 3: Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

When Fiona Apple croons: “Be kind to me, or treat me mean / I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”, she isn’t saying that she’ll take cruelty on the chin, she’s stating that she’s (to quote Marianne Williamson) powerful beyond measure.  It is only with an attitude of pure tenacity that we can rise up after a devastating fall.

Song Selection Number 4: Fight Song – Rachel Platten

We all have what Platten calls “wrecking balls” inside our heads.  This is especially true for anyone who has faced abuse and has had to deal with diminished self-esteem as a result.  Fight Song could be a metaphor for whatever it is that helps us recover and gives us hope and strength to bravely face another day.

Song Selection Number 5: His Daughter – Molly Kate Kestner

Kestner’s His Daughter is a heart-breaking ballad about a young girl who witnesses the unhealthy, abusive relationship of her parents and how it shapes the rest of her life. Children – particularly young girls – who have grown up in an environment where they have been subjected to domestic violence will relate to this song.

Song Selection Number 6: Just Because I’m a Woman – Dolly Parton

Country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that it is a great genre for storytelling.  What Dolly Parton has given us with Just Because I’m a Woman is a relatable and candid understanding of what it is like to be a woman in an unequal, gender stereotyped society.  “My mistakes are no worse than yours / just because I’m a woman.”

Song Selection Number 7: Note to Self – Jake Bugg

Here’s an idea that many women may well be able to relate : as women, we sometimes forget how much we’re capable of, or we never learnt what we were capable of. Jake Bugg has a novel idea: write a note to yourself, say the things to yourself that you’ve always wanted to hear someone else say to or about you.  Bugg’s Note to Self reminds us that we need to be self-compassionate.

Song Selection Number 8: Salute – Little Mix

This track is a wonderful call to solidarity amongst women.  There is strength in supportive sisterhoods and Little Mix captures that perfectly when they sing: “Representing all the women, Salute!”  Little Mix’s audience is primarily young girls and what better a message to spread than one of female empowerment.

Song Selection Number 9: Sister – Andrew Belle

Andrew Belle’s Sister is about the way a sibling tries to understand the abuse hia sister is going through.  “He tried to kill you / and you allow it.”  The sibling sees all sorts of amazing qualities in her sister and can’t quite wrap her head around why or how she ended up in such a hostile situation.  Many survivors of abuse feel at some point that everyone deems them ‘stupid’ for being with an abusive partner.  Sometimes we forget that there are people in our lives, like the sibling in Belle’s song, who hold us in high esteem.

 Song Selection Number 10: Til It Happens to You – Lady Gaga

[TRIGGER WARNING: May be distressing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] Written by Gaga and Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which turns the spotlight on rape on college campuses in the U.S., Til It Happen to You is a raw and emotionally charged ballad.  The music video – directed by Catherine Hardwicke – is harrowing and intentionally provocative but drives home the reality of young women being assaulted and intimidated in educational environments.

Song Selection Number 11: Unpretty – TLC

Through TLC’s anthem Unpretty, we get to understand how a boyfriend or spouse can coerce us into believing we have physical flaws that need correcting.  The pressure of it all can leave us with little to no self-esteem.  “My outsides look cool / My insides are blue / Every time I think I’m through / It’s because of you”.

Song Selection Number 12: Welcome to My Truth – Anastacia

“Through it all / I’ve hit about a million walls / Welcome to my truth, I still love” Compassion is how we heal and learning to love again is part of that process.  The love that powerhouse Pop artiste Anastacia refers to in this song isn’t one of a romantic nature, it is a love steeped in empathy and benevolence.  Don’t let your abuser sully all that is still beautiful and sacred to you.

Song Selection Number 13: What it feels like for a Girl – Madonna

Madonna addresses misogyny and the stereotypical roles women are meant to play in society and focuses on the skewed notion that femininity or possessing feminine qualities, makes a person weak.  What it feels like for a Girl opens with dialogue by the character Julie, from the film The Cement Garden: “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots. ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like… Wouldn’t you? What it feels like for a girl.”

Song Selection Number 14: Whole Damn Year – Mary J. Blige

What happens to your relationship with men when you have been violated by a man?  Can you enter into a romantic relationship with a man again and will you ever be able to trust that he won’t abuse you?  These are the themes of Mary J. Blige’s Whole Damn Year.  “Gon’ take a long, long year for me to trust somebody.”

Song Selection Number 15: Yesterday is Gone (My Dear Kay) – Lenny Kravitz 

In Yesterday is Gone, Kravitz addresses a woman named ‘Kay’.  While we, the listeners, may not know who Kay is or what predicament she is in, the encouragement and wisdom the lyrics express is inspiring. “You can’t get nowhere / Staying at home and crying / You can’t go on living in the past / The one thing constant is that there is always change”

Song Selection Number 16: Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

In 1976, Staton delivered this message of autonomy, and we’re still dancing to it today.  This song was written after Staton come through an abusive relationship herself and is a bold anthem about free love and independence. “I’m gonna love me, for the rest of my days / Encourage the babies every time they say / “Self-preservation is what’s really going on today””

The Pixel Project’s Best Blog Articles of 2014

Blog and PenAt The Pixel Project, we are the voices of people from all over the world connecting to change communities. We are a force of volunteer researchers, writers, interviewers, artistes and editors that collaborate to bring a diverse array of programmes to inform and educate in as many ways as possible. We interact with people to bring attention to campaigns developed in both highly populated areas and remote areas around the world, to share news stories of positive activism and to highlight new programmes developed through our bi-monthly e-news digest, highlighting activists through our Facebook page, sharing information and resources through our daily Twitter help-lines and by writing thoughtful and inspiring blog posts on our main website and our campaign micro-sites.

As a virtual nonprofit organisation, we combine technology, social media, popular culture, the arts, and journalism with activism and resources that can be accessed from anywhere by anyone and everyone to draw attention to the many ways violence against women (VAW) affects the lives of all people in all communities all around the world. We seek to identify and bring to global attention the work of new, emerging, innovative and creative activists and allies from all walks of life who are contributing to the cause to end violence. It is through the efforts of these remarkable people and their campaigns that are changing communities and creating a global network of individuals that are joining together through their diverse efforts to bring awareness to the international community and changing the conversation about violence.

This year, we have not only continued our monthly Inspirational Interview series and our wonderful 30 for 30 Father’s Day June campaign; we have developed two new series: The Survivor Stories Project and our “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” interview series. These series have brought new voices into our collective. The stories of surviving and thriving from The Survivor Stories Project bring stories of empowerment that share hope and the transformative power of healing. The “30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days” interview series includes music artistes and the power of music activism in our efforts to inform the public and raise funds to contribute to the work to end violence worldwide.

While all of our interviewees are worthy of inclusion, we picked 16 to share for this series. We hope you read through all of the stories and campaigns we have highlighted this past year and hope these individuals and groups spotlighted this year motivates you to join the effort to end VAW.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Carol Olson, Editor-in-Chief (2014) – The Pixel Project

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Blog Article Selection #1: 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days, AHMIR – United States of America

AHMIR, The Pixel Project’s YouTube ambassador, is the #1 Most Popular R&B Group on YouTube. The group has used their success to bring awareness to charity organisations including The Pixel Project. Their cover video of P!nk’s “Perfect” was named one of the top Anti-Bullying PSA’s by The Huffington Post.  Their video of covering Unconditionally incorporated information about the Pixel Project in support of the Celebrity Male Role Model Campaign and all proceeds from the digital downloads of the single go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-Violence Against Women work.

Blog Article Selection #2: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Colin D’Silva – India and Singapore

Colin has a doctorate in Biochemistry/Microbiology and has been working in the cosmetics industry for over 16 years. He worked in retail beauty for most of his career, and is now working in the prestige/luxury beauty industry. He says: “Men need to understand and accept that manhood is not about being macho. Patience, kindness, home life balance, and equality in the home are part of what the father needs to instill in the family and live out himself. Fathers and male role models must be vocal about condemning violence against women. They must encourage all boys & men to do the same and not turn a blind eye to this issue.”

Blog Article Selection #3: Inspirational Interview: David Lee – of The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) – United States of America

Our first Inspirational Interview of 2014 was with David Lee, Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) and manager of PreventConnect, the nation’s leading online community to advance primary prevention of violence against women. David said: “In many ways prevention work is, at its core, about inspiring activists, building a movement, and creating policies, procedures and practices that fit our vision for a world without sexual and domestic violence.”

Blog Articles Selection #4: Survivor Stories Project: Deborah J. Monroe – United States of America

Deborah survived both child abuse and interpersonal violence as a young adult. She details her story of survival in her book: “Hurt No More”. She is now a public speaker, advocate, mentor, blogger, and founder of Victimize Me No More, a nonprofit with a mission to spread awareness about domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.

Endriani SiswantiBlog Article Selection #5: Survivor Stories Project: Endriani Siswanti – Indonesia

Endriani survived 8 years of domestic violence. She has published her story in the Jakarta Globe under the title “Lighting the Path to Safety with Pundi Perempuan.” She writes about her journey of healing and her success at leaving the relationship and pursuing a healthy life. Endriani says: “Hopeless, frightened, butchered and bruised. It was 2006 and I was flying away from an abusive husband and eight years of bad marriage. With neither a family nor a safe place to turn to, I only had an address from a portable calendar in my home: The Women Crisis Center in South Jakarta.”

Blog Article Selection #6: 30 For 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Hasman Farid Mohd Ali Noh – Malaysia

Hasman Farid is a happily married dad of three children, aged thirteen, eight, and three. He has worked in the financial industry for the past 15 years in both Malaysia and Singapore. He says: “My attitude towards women and girls are directly related to the way my father treats my mother. In my life, I have never once seen my father scold my mother or expect my mother to attend to his needs and fancies […] men who treat women violently are the most cowardly human beings.”

Blog Article Selection #7: Inspirational Interview: Jaclyn Friedman, Writer, Educator, Activist. – United States of America

Jaclyn Friedman is the Executive Director of Women Action Media – an organisation which focuses on fighting gender injustice in the media. She is a writer, educator, activist, and creator of the book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape and What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety. She spearheaded the #FBRape campaign that forced Facebook to review its policies on gender-based hate speech.

Blog Article Selection #8: Inspirational Interview: Julie S. Lalonde – of  Hollaback! Ottawa and Founder of the Draw the Line Campaign – Canada

Julie S. Lalonde is an award-winning social justice activist based out of Ottawa, Canada. She is the director of Hollaback!- Ottawa, and founder of Draw-the-Line.ca, which aims to end sexual violence by engaging bystanders. Lalonde said: “I cannot tolerate being silent about living in a rape culture. I cannot go to bed at night knowing that rape culture exists but doing nothing to stop it. I know that eradicating sexual violence means challenging the status quo and in turn, being really unpopular, but I do it anyway.”

Blog Article Selection #9: Inspirational Interview: Kriti Bharthi – The Saarthi Trust – India

Kriti Bharti is an internationally recognised Rehabilitation Psychologist for her work for child welfare and women empowerment. She established the charity Saarthi Trust in 2012 to help victims of India’s child marriage crisis and set up another charity, Badhtey Kadam, to help poor street children who are looking to improve their lives.

Kriti Bharti 1

Blog Article Selection #10: Inspirational Interview: Laura Bates – of Everyday Sexism Project. – United Kingdom

Laura Bates began the Everyday Sexism Project and has collected over 50,000 people’s experiences of gender imbalances. The project is now being used by politicians, schools, universities, businesses, police forces and the UN to make concrete steps towards ending gender inequality. She is Patron of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS), which is a member of Rape Crisis England and Wales. Laura is also a Contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based organisation working against the use of rape as a tool of war in conflict zones worldwide.

Blog Article Selection #11: 30 Artistes, 30 Songs, 30 Days: Macy Kate – United States of America

Macy Kate is the youngest recording artist to record with Sean Kingston and has opened for Rick Springfield, Aaron Carter, the OMG Girlz, Seven Nations, IM5 and has performed at Radio Disney’s Silver Bells in front of 20k plus people. Macy believes it is important to help other women and young girls to reach their goals and dreams in a safe, loving environment. She uses her music to inspire other girls her age to believe in themselves and the value that they bring to the world.

Blog Article Selection #12: Inspirational Interview: Margeaux Gray – United States of America

Margeaux Gray  is a survivor of child sex trafficking who has transcended her horror and today she uses her voice and art to educate, inspire, and empower others. She is an anti-human trafficking advocate, public speaker, and artist. Margeaux’s focus as a survivor-leader is to address the aftercare and healthcare needs of victims, as well as to work with healthcare professionals, educators, and students so that they can recognise and aid trafficking victims. Her mission as an advocate is to create a widespread awareness of the scope of trafficking and that it is a human rights issue.

Blog Article Selection #13: 30 for 30 Father’s Day Campaign: Martin Copeland – United States of America

Martin is the husband to Siobhan and father to Jaxon, who is four months old. His other roles fall behind those. He has been told that he has been a dad for years because he works and volunteers in youth work as a teacher, college access advisor, youth leader, and mentor for young men in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) for over 10 years. Martin says: “Fathers and other male role models must actually model appropriate behaviour for the young men in their lives. Young men have to see examples of men who not only respect women but acknowledge the injustices against women in this world.”

Blog Article Selection #14: Inspirational Interview: Ruth Jones – Director of the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse. – United Kingdom

Ruth Jones has been celebrated for her work in research and education on the issue of domestic violence and violence against women. She has been instrumental in developing the first MA in Professional Development focused on The Dynamics of Domestic Violence at the University of Worcester. Ruth says: “Gender-based violence will never be prevented if we don’t address the underlying factors that are conducive to its perpetration of violence, not least of which is gender inequality. In a society in which women and girls continue to be sexualised, objectified, and vilified, we have still have a long way to go.”

Blog Article Selection #15: Inspirational Interview: Soraya Chemaly – Activist, Writer, Feminist – United States of America

Soraya is a writer, media critic and activist focused on women’s rights and the role of gender in politics, religion and popular culture. In collaboration with Jaclyn Friedman and Laura Bates, she spearheaded the #FBRape campaign to hold Facebook accountable for their disregard of the video’s and images of rape on their site.

Check out this Google Hangout chat with Soraya, Jaclyn and Regina Yau (Founder of The Pixel Project) discussing online violence against women:

Blog Article Selection #16: Inspirational Interview: Trace Fleming – Creator of Facebook platform: Self-Care for Advocates – United States of America

Trace G. Fleming is an activist and advocate working to end violence against women. She is the creator of both the Advocate News and Self-Care for Advocates, platforms on Facebook to serve advocates. Trace is the new Sexual Violence Program Director and Coordinator of the Abuse in Later Life Project at 2nd Chance, Inc. Trace says: “This [Self-Care for Advocates]  is a safe, feminist space open for advocates to share when they are struggling with burn out or vicarious trauma. It’s …a space for advocates to receive and give support.”

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16″ 2014 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to our 16 for 16 Special Edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest. In this edition, we bring you the top 16 news headlines in each category related to violence against women over the past year.

2014 can be seen as a banner year for progress in the global fight to end violence against women with the movement to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) continuing strong momentum in the UK and debuting in the USA, more people than ever (including ‘Harry Potter’ star Emma Watson) speaking out in support of feminism and stopping violence against women, more educational efforts ranging from schools teaching children about what forced marriage is (Australia) and what FGM is (UK), and what looks like an increasingly number of men getting on board the cause via efforts such as UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign and the White Ribbon campaign.

To kick things off, here are 16 of the biggest trending VAW headlines of 2014:

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter . It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Best regards,
The Pixel Project Team


Violence Against Women – General


Domestic Violence


Sexual Assault / Rape


Human / Sex Trafficking


Female Genital Mutilation


Honour Killing and Forced/Child Marriage


Street Harassment


Activism

16 Ideas for Helping Survivors of Violence Against Women Rebuild Their Lives

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There is no single definitive solution for rebuilding one’s life as a survivor of gender-based violence because the personal journey to healing varies for each individual woman or girl. Though many have suffered these experiences, the conduit to recovery is a unique one. Every woman or girl reacts and processes her experience of violence differently; every individual heals and comes to terms with post-trauma at their own pace. In addition, the way each survivor deals with her trauma depends on the culture she is in, the community of which she is a member, and the resources to which she has access.

Although recovery is complicated, frustrating and long-term process that is always a work-in-progress, building a new life is not impossible for many survivors. In this article, we list out a number of actions and starting points that may be able to help clear a pathway to healing and make it a little easier for survivors and the network of potential supporters around them (e.g. friends, family, community) who are also often at a loss as to how to help ease their pain and be there for them on their journey. Together, both survivors and their supporters can work through the healing process and deal effectively with the traumatic experience.

We have divided our ideas/tips into a section for communities and a section for survivors themselves.  These suggestions are by no means comprehensive but we hope they will not only help with kickstarting the healing process for some survivors and their supporters, but also awareness that we can all help improve upon the how individuals and communities can mitigate and work their way through after-effects of traumatic experiences such as domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and female genital mutilation.

NOTE: This article is a companion article to last year’s article about 16 ways you can help support VAW survivors which you can read in tandem with this article to get more ideas and suggestions that you may be able to apply to your situation/community.

Written and compiled by Ashley Sapp with additional content by Regina Yau. Introduction by Ashley Sapp and Regina Yau.

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8 Ideas/Tips for Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors

Survivor Tip #1: Acceptance

The first building block in reclaiming your life after the violence is acceptance because acknowledging what has occurred can help start you on the road to recovery. Much like with grieving, part of being able to move forward and rebuild one’s life is to accept what has happened to you and how it has changed you and your life. This is because denial may prevent you from acknowledging where your life currently stands and how to go about healing from your wounds, especially when it comes to the complications of living with the consequences of violence. Acceptance does not mean that you are “over it” because your healing process can never be rushed and many survivors find that it is a long-term process that requires constant work but it’s a process that requires a first step. And acceptance is that first step.

Survivor Tip #2: Self-Awareness

There is nothing more important than recognising the emotions and thoughts you may be having, particularly after a traumatic event. Shielding yourself from your own mind is akin to putting up a partition that prevents you from working through your experiences and hinders the healing process. Understand that although you are not alone and others have shared this type of experience, the way you heal and behave and react can and will be unique.  No one follows the same pattern, and this is okay. Also, everyone deals with this at their own pace, so whether you prefer to face it immediately or to put it away for a while until you have healed physically (if you have sustained physical injuries), it’s up to you. Just remember that it’s important to do so before your emotions and thoughts begin festering and causing you more hurt.

hobbiesSurvivor Tip #3: The Power of Creativity

Even if you are not the best writer or the most artistic person in the world, writing and crafts can serve as therapeutic tools after your traumatic experience. Very often, there is a feeling of loss after experiencing any sort of violence because violence is inherently destructive. Channeling your emotions and thoughts into words, art, dance, or music can be a pivotal part of working through everything that accompanies being a VAW survivor for several reasons. Firstly, creative activities may be able to help with revealing more about how you are feeling and dealing with what has occurred, and can also bring about new understanding that could be beneficial to your recovery. Secondly, creative activities may be a cathartic way for you find your voice after your traumatic experience. Thirdly, for some individuals, being able to create something using your hands and imagination may well be able to counteract the destructiveness of the violence inflicted on them by their abuser. For examples, see The Center for Women & Families.

Survivor Tip #4: Hobbies

If you are currently at a place in your recovery where you are not inclined to do creative activities, a simple activity you may want to consider undertaking is to remember the hobbies you enjoyed before the act of violence occurred. Even though you are dealing with a painful life-altering experience, it may help for you to remember some of the positive aspects of your life before the trauma. It can be easy to lose interest in hobbies and feel underwhelmed/ overwhelmed in general in the process of rebuilding yourself as a person and your life as a whole. However, if you are able to do so, being diligent about getting involved with the hobbies and activities that bring you joy (when you are ready) can be important in helping you because they can take you out of your mind for a bit into a place of happiness or, at least, comfort. In fact, if you have never had a hobby before, perhaps it is time to consider taking on one that can pique and absorb your interest effectively.

Survivor Tip #5: Use Available Resources

Sometimes it takes a long while for a survivor to reach this point, but the important thing is working towards being able to reach out and utilise all the tools and resources available around you that may be able to help you take the next step in reclaiming your life. Whether that means seeking help from family or friends, discussing what has happened with a survivors group, seeing a therapist, or calling a hotline number, feeling comfortable enough to explore your options is imperative to rebuilding. Some resources can be found on The Pixel Project’s Resources page.

Survivor Tip #6: Understand Timing

We all heal differently and within specific time frames and following our own distinctive patterns. No matter how quickly or slowly you move through the healing process, it only matters that you are moving through it at all. Comparing how you deal with your pain and how you manage your situation with how other survivors do it is unnecessary because there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Do what feels right. Do what helps you. But the main thing –the most important thing—is to take care of you. Listen to what your body and mind need and try to communicate that with both yourself and loved ones.

Survivor Tip #7: Unlearn Shame

Though hearing from others that what happened to you is not your fault can help, it is something you must learn and understand for yourself. You have no reason to feel guilty for your abuser’s/attacker’s actions because it was their choice to inflict violence on you. You have no reason to doubt that you are a survivor in every sense of the word, and though you will feel a bewildering range of emotions that come with being a survivor, shame should not be one of them. It is possible to unlearn shame as long as you continue to remind yourself of the truth: you are not to blame for what happened to you. Place post-its and reminders of this on your wall or your mirror until it sinks in. Another crucial step you can take in unlearning shame is to put distance between yourself and the people in your life and your community who insisting on blaming the victim (you) for what has happened to you. This is a difficult action to take as victim-blamers may include your family and friends but it is important to identify those who will recognise that it is not your fault and who will focus on helping you heal instead of making you doubt yourself.

Survivor Tip #8: Network, Network, Network

While your healing process and experience is unique to you, it is something that others are working through too. Joining a network of victims and survivors of traumatic events such as assault, rape, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation can help break down the barriers of feeling alone or unequipped to handle recovery. These are your peers who understand at least part of the emotional terrain that you are navigating and those who are further down the line in their own healing may have some helpful advice that you could apply to your own situation. Plus, sharing your own insight and tips with other survivors could help you heal as well. You can find support groups locally or online, in places like Trauma Survivors Network.

8 Ideas/Tips For Communities, Families, and Friends of Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors.

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Supporter Tip #1: Listen And Believe

When a survivor of any sort of gender-based violence or harassment—domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and so on—reaches out to talk about her experience, she is not necessarily seeking advice. Instead, she is looking for a safe environment and people who will actively listen to her in a non-judgemental way. Survivors need to be heard and assured that their experience is important, instead of having their trauma explained away, blamed for what happened to them, or have decisions about their future made on their behalf without their consent. Nothing can change what has already occurred to the survivor, but having a trustworthy, stable, and accepting community of supporters (friends, family, helplines like RAINN) who believes her and does not blame her will do wonders for her recovery. Another advantage of making the commitment to listen to the survivor is that you will be better able to find out directly from her what she needs and what you can do to help alleviate her pain.

Supporter Tip #2:  Support In Appropriate Ways

For many VAW survivors, the healing process is a difficult one and what often brings the healing process to a halt is feeling too alone and isolated by the surrounding community to continue. As you listen to a survivor detail their feelings, thoughts, and experiences, it is important to remain supportive and to show that support in ways that the survivor is comfortable with. A few first steps you can take include: being reassuring, offering assistance when she needs or asks for assistance, doing research on healing resources for both you as a supporter and her as a survivor. Sometimes what is needed most by those who are recovering is simply knowing someone else will be there to help them and  walk with them through this journey of rebuilding. At the same time, amplify your public support for the survivor (and all survivors in your community) by challenging the attitudes of those around you who stigmatise the survivor. For example, if you hear someone shaming the survivor (or gossiping unkindly about them), speak up to call out that person’s behaviour.

Supporter Tip #3:  Do Your Research

Something that can help in any situation is to be well-informed, particularly when it comes to helping a VAW survivor in appropriate ways. One of the key steps to understanding the issues these survivors are facing as they progress toward healing (including: anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder) is to do your research – go online to educate yourself about them and what you can do to help the survivor. Although every survivor’s experience is unique, there are stages, symptoms, and signs of post-trauma recovery that the majority of survivors go through which you can learn to recognise in order to provide timely help. Once you are familiar with all this, you will be in a better place to take action to help  Here’s a quick starting point: Check out The Pixel Project’s VAW Facts section to learn about the different types of violence against women, then go to our “Getting Help” section to get checklists and tips for helping survivors.

Supporter Tip #4: Help Build Resources

Whether or not you are a survivor yourself, the issue of violence against women is faced by many; therefore, resources are invaluable in every community. If there are limited or no shelters, helplines, and funds nearby to assist survivors where you live, one place to start is with your employer or community center. Still no luck? Then start looking for ways to build resources in your community by raising awareness about VAW via flyers, community fundraisers, and networking with others who are willing to help create more resources and cognizance locally.  This can begin a movement in your community to ensure survivors have a safe environment to recover in while addressing victim-blaming and rape culture to effect wider social change.

Supporter Tip #5: Therapy Helps

Therapy can be beneficial part of the rebuilding process for survivors of rape, incest, domestic violence, and other forms of gender violence as it provides an additional level of help for healing on both an emotional and psychological level. However, therapy is not just for survivors – it can also be helpful for friends and family who are actively involved in helping the survivor. The right therapist can assist in better enabling you to be an effective supporter as someone equipped to help your loved one through this experience. There are sessions for you individually and that you can attend together with the survivor or as a group: utilise them. If private therapy is too expensive, find out if there are support groups or anti-VAW organisations nearby who may be able to help locate affordable therapy and counselling/guidance services for both survivors and the families/communities of the survivors.

Supporter Tip #6: Avoid Being Overbearing

While it is important to remain caring and supportive, there is a difference between doing so and being overbearing. Remember to respect the survivor’s needs. Do not push for more details when she is not ready nor should you try to “fix” problems or force her to talk beyond what she is comfortable discussing. Silence is not a bad thing and can in fact say quite a bit. Being there for a survivor means allowing her to be and to not pretend everything is okay.  When in doubt, ask the survivor about what she needs and how she would like you to help her. If she asks for some space or insists on accomplishing a task on her own steam, respect her decision to do so as this is part of her journey towards regaining her self-confidence and self-respect after the violence.

Supporter Tip #7: Be Attentive to Flashbacks or Panic Attacks

Flashbacks and panic attacks can be fairly common in VAW survivors, and responding to them in a compassionate and appropriate manner will go a long way towards helping the survivor manage and recover from these episodes. Help the survivor to breathe properly, let them know you realise this feels real to them, but remind them that it is not are all key actions to take. Describe her surroundings and have her do the same, turn off any triggering music/television, and bring the focus back to the moment. Remind the survivor there is nothing wrong with undergoing flashbacks or attacks, as they are an opportunity to understand and to work through her experiences. If the flashback or panic attack is very severe, call for appropriate medical or professional assistance.

Supporter Tip #8: Recognise The Importance of Self-Care

Finally: Friends and family of survivors of violence often experience their own feelings of guilt, shame, or loss of intimacy because they were unable to help the survivor when the violence was inflicted on her or feel helpless when faced with the survivor’s suffering. Chances are that you will also be affected by this experience, so be sure to help and take care of yourself through it as well because you need to keep yourself healthy on all levels in order to continue helping the survivor for the amount of time it would take for her to heal.

16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Violence Against Women

Friends SupportViolence Against Women (VAW) almost always takes the form of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault/abuse and domestic physical abuse, which continues to have great stigma and denial in our society.  This denial of the reality of abuse and violence that pervades our communities results in ignorance of how to support a survivor.  We have so many ways to support people with medical problems, people who are in accidents, and people with mental health and now substance abuse problems, yet we continue to disregard survivors of violence and their needs toward support and healing.

Supporting a survivor of violence requires intentional thought and behaviour toward recognising what the survivor needs at any given moment during their recovery.  And the response to survivors is often very different than responses we may give to other events or issues in a person’s life.

To help you get started, we have compiled 16 ways to help support a survivor.

Introduction by Carol Olson, List compiled by Jennifer Gallienne and Jodi Layne, Edited by Carol Olson and Jerica Nonell

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How you can support a survivor #1:  Listen. One of the primary things a survivor of violence needs is for you to just sit and listen sincerely. Listen without judging and listen without fixating over what you are going to say next. Listen without freaking out over the accounting of the events of violence and abuse.  Just listen to what they have to say and allow them to be truly heard. Most people who did not report their assaults decided not to because they “thought it was not important enough” or that “no one would want to hear about it.”  Listen and let your friend know that both they and what they went through are important.

How you can support a survivor #2: Believe. Another primary thing a survivor needs is to be believed.  Do not question their version of events or if what happened to them was a “legitimate” sexual assault. Tell them directly: “I believe you.” A lot of people never report their assault because they are afraid that no one will believe them. Many survivors will have to spend their whole lives trying to convince authorities that what happened to them was real: from the police (should your friend choose to report the incident), to the court (if the case ever even gets there), and to the media (and the way it handles rape and rape victims).  They will have their account of the assault repeatedly challenged and de-legitimized throughout their life, so please offer unconditional support.

How you can support a survivor #3: Ask how you can help. Sometimes we may feel like we know what to do in this situation or may want to immediately seek help for the victim. We must remember that this is not about us and it is more useful to ask “Is there anything you need from me right now?” instead of taking control of the situation. It is important to remember to go at the victim’s pace and what they are comfortable in doing.

How you can support a survivor #4: No coulda, shoulda, woulda. The fact is that sexual assault happens because people do it, not because of the length of a dress, the time of day they were out, or how much they were drinking. Do not offer your friend suggestions on how they could have prevented being assaulted – the chances are that they have already replayed their assault in their head and wondered what they could have done differently. The reality is that the person who assaulted them should never have done it in the first place.  It is never the victim’s fault that someone assaulted them.

How you can support a survivor #5: Respect Boundaries. If they ask you not to say anything and to just listen: just listen. If they ask for a hug or other reassuring touch: offer it if you feel comfortable and do not touch them in any way unless asked or permitted. Do not try and help or offer suggestions if they do not want any. React in the way they ask you to. Do not tell others about the assault if they have confided in you. Do not report their assault to law enforcement or officials without their consent. Remember that victims of violence have had their boundaries violently abused by the offender and will need people to respect them.

Holding HandHow you can support a survivor #6: Empower!
Put them in control of their own healing while being supportive. Never put pressure on your friend to pursue these options or react in a certain way. Give them the tools to decide how to move forward and don’t judge their decisions. Being a survivor of sexual violence means they are usually dealing with a loss of power, so do all that you can to help them restore their autonomy.

How you can support a survivor #7: Provide resources.
If you know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault give them resources. Let them know that there is professional help available. If they are not ready to go to a local center, they can use a hotline, such as the National Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

How you can support a survivor #8: Accompany the Survivor to Get Help. If they decide to move forward with seeking help and healing, offer to drive them and/or accompany them (with their permission) to any or all of the agencies that will provide them with help, such as the hospital for a medical and/or forensic exam, to the sexual assault center for legal advocacy and support, and/or to the counselor for therapy.  You may not be able to sit in their counseling session but ask the advocate/counselor if you could be present with them through the initial steps.  Some counselors will work with family, partners, and friends to help educate them and engage them in supporting the survivor.

How you can support a survivor #9: Combat victim blaming and rape culture. Ever heard someone make a rape joke? Every heard someone blame a victim of rape because of what they were wearing or where they were? Ever heard someone use the word rape to describe beating a video game? Ever heard someone say she really wanted it or state that no means they are just playing hard to get? Challenge and confront these when they happen!  If it is your friend or relative saying these things, do not worry about hurting their feelings; let them know how this hurts survivors. Look for these teachable moments and educate them on why what they are saying is hurtful and perpetuating violence against women.

How your can support a survivor #10: Confront Harmful Language
Sexual assault has nothing to do with what the victim was wearing and harmful language used to describe women objectify them. Take the time to educate your community, family, and friends about how harmful this language is. The next time you hear someone say that the victim should have been dressed differently, confront that directly.

How to support a survivor #11: Debunk the myth of alcohol/medication or other substances. Many people have heard victim blaming language when it comes to a victim drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills, or using other substances before their assault.  Just because a person had something to drink or took medication does not mean the person asked for the assault to happen and nor is to blame for it.  Let them know that just because they had alcohol or other substances does not mean they deserved the assault to happen.

sexual assault prev tipsHow to support a survivor #12: Hold Abusers Accountable for their Actions. Do not let abusers make excuses, such as blaming the victim for alcohol, drugs, behaviour, or clothing. Our culture and media spends a lot of time blaming the victim but never blames the person who committed the crime. Shift the blame back on to the abuser, where it belongs, and away from the victim.

How to support a survivor #13: Volunteer! Many domestic violence/sexual assault centres have wonderful volunteer opportunities and programmes available. Many of these agencies rely on dedicated volunteers to respond to sexual assault calls. These agencies do a wonderful job at training interested volunteers as well as offering them support along the way. Go online and search for these centres in your community to find the nearest volunteer opportunity.

How to support a survivor #14: Attend a Community Event. One of the ways you can support rape survivors and show your support is attend a community event that is bringing awareness to sexual assault and offering support. There are many events like Take Back the Night that happen on college campuses around the world and various events that happen during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is a good way to show your support for the community of survivors living in your city and is a good way to get education on the issue.

How to support a survivor #15: Have Conversations with Men in Your Life. Because victim blaming will not prevent rape, what needs to change is the conversations that we are having with men about all of these issues. Educating on consent and sending messages to men to be accountable for their actions and behaviour is more effective because it shifts the focus onto them and clears away any misunderstandings that may not come out otherwise. Men need to realize the responsibility to prevent rape is on them and not the people getting raped. We need to have more conversations with men and boys about healthy relationships and consensual sex.

How to support a survivor #16: Take Care of Yourself. Sexual assault is more common and has more manifestations than we let ourselves believe or acknowledge within our society. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, the disclosure of another friend may bring up uncomfortable feelings or reawaken trauma.  Make sure you get the support you need to be a good ally to your friend and to keep your own mental and emotional health in check.

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16” 2013 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to the special 16 for 16 edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest, for the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence!

In the Arab world where old fashion attitudes die hard, women’s rights are frequently violated even in places where governments are relatively progressive on social issues . Sexual harassment is so rife that almost every woman in Egypt has experienced it, according to a United Nations (UN) report released earlier this year. In Saudi Arabia, they must cover themselves in public, cannot drive cars and must remain under male ‘guardianship.’

In the United Kingdom, members of parliament launched a major inquiry why female genital mutilation to ‘get to the truth’ about why no-one has been convicted three decades after it was made illegal . Home Affairs Select Committee is to challenge ministers and the police over why charges have never been brought against ‘cutters’ or families who arrange the surgery.

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter. It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Researched and compiled by Karina Tayag and edited by Carol Olson.
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16 General News Stories reporting on Violence Against Women 

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16 News Stories reporting on Domestic Violence

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16 News Stories reporting on Sexual Assault and Rape 

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16 News Stories reporting on Sex and Human Trafficking

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16 News Stories reporting on Female Genital Mutilation

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16 News Stories reporting on Forced Marriage and Honour Killing

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16 News Stories reporting on VAW Activism

16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community

stop domestic violenceThe World Health Organisation (WHO)’s latest report on Violence Against Women that was released in June 2013 indicated that in some regions of the world, over 35% of women suffer from partner violence.  With these staggering numbers, it is a very real possibility that every one of us knows a woman is facing (or has faced) domestic violence.

The intervention of neighbours and the wider community is one of the keys to stopping the violence. This starter list provides 16 tips for preventing and intervening to stop Domestic Violence in your community and/or neighbourhood. We have divided the list into 2 sections – one for the wider community and one for individuals. If you have any other suggestions and tips, please do share them in the comments section.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Written by Rashad Brathwaite and Regina Yau; Edited by Jerica Nonell and Regina Yau.

“Stop Domestic Violence” graphic by Sebastian Smith.

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For The Wider Community

IMG_9492Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #1: Know the signs. The first step to action is to familiarise individuals and the community with the possible signs and indicators of domestic violence. These signs can vary and do not always come with physical symptoms because domestic violence is not just limited to physical attacks such as beatings. It includes many forms of abusive behaviour enacted to control the victim in a myriad of ways including emotional abuse, verbal abuse and economic abuse. Domestic violence also affects every level and demograhic in society, so there is no typical victim despite the stereotypes. Someone who may not appear to be a victim of domestic violence may well be suffering in silence and it is important to recognise the signs if this is the case.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #2: Get your community educated! A good start to eradicating Domestic Violence from your community or neighbourhood is to start educating as many people as possible about Domestic Violence, its impact and how to intervene safely. This can be done in collaboration with your local Domestic Violence shelter or women’s organisation or police community outreach officers who can work with the community, local schools and local companies to organise and implement talks, townhall meetings and other group sessions to talk about this issue.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #3: Get your community organised! There is safety and influence in numbers when intervening to stop an abuser or making your community a place where Domestic Violence will not be tolerated. So just as many neighbourhoods have neighbourhood watch to stop crime, start organising a network of folks who will commit to intervene in Domestic Violence situations, help victims leave their abusers safely and provide a communal support structure for survivors.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #4: Boost your community support network with technology! If you have a smart phone and the victim has a smart phone, consider downloading a safety app for women, many of which have been designed to automatically alert your support network if you are in danger. If the victim does not have a smart phone, consider pooling money with a few friends and neighbours to get her one and pre-load it with a safety app that is connected to all your phones so you can become a de facto support net for her. Free safety apps currently available include the award-winning Circle of 6 and the iAMDEFENDER app which you can download here.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #5: Stopping the violence is good for business. Domestic Violence has cost economies and companies millions of dollars in lost time, medical care, productivity etc. In the U.S., the cost of Domestic Violence to the economy is estimated at $8.3 billion a year. If you are a business owner or a senior member of a company (e.g. a director, board member, senior manager), be pro-active in getting educated about how to intervene if you suspect or know that your employee or staff member is facing Domestic Violence because it will have a knock-on effect on your company. Implement HR policies that makes provisions for the potential impact of Domestic Violence. For example, the National Bank of Australia is currently offering paid Domestic Violence leave because the economic freedom from remaining in paid work is regarded as vital in helping victims escape violent relationships.

For Individuals

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #6: Ring the bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing Domestic Violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. You could use the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If you feel that it could get dangerous, bring another person with you so there will be more than one witness. Check out what this guy did in a PSA by our partner, Bell Bajao:

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #7: Bring a back-up. Intervening with Domestic Violence situations can be dangerous especially if the abuser has a weapon (e.g. a gun) and is intoxicated by drink or drugs. If you are unable to get help from the local shelter or police, make sure to bring another friend or family member along with you when you respond to the victim/survivor’s call in person.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #8:  BE the back-up. If your neighbour, friend, co-worker, classmate, mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or cousin is facing Domestic Violence at home, let them know that you will be willing to be a witness or to intervene on their behalf while you are around. Also let them know that they are welcome to take refuge in your home should they need somewhere to go.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #9: Make the call, NOW. If the situation is beyond simple neighbourly intervention (e.g. the abuser has a gun and uses it during the abuse), call the police or your local emergency services (such as 911 in the U.S.) IMMEDIATELY. Provide critical information, such as location, names, contact number, and whether or not you wish the remain anonymous. Do NOT intervene personally in this scenario as it will be too dangerous to do so.

Be-Friends-with-Someone-Emotionally-Unable-to-Be-an-Equally-Supportive-Friend-Step-9Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #10: Listen to empower. If a victim of domestic violence reaches out to you, listen. Let her know that you believe her and do not judge her choices. Victims often feel completely isolated and are often belittled by their partner; it is important to enable her to feel safe when confiding in you because eventually, she may well be able to gather enough courage to tell you exactly what is happening and to ask for help. This intervention tip may be particularly useful for hairdressers, nurses, human resource department personnel and anyone working in professions that involve having to listen to clients, customers and co-workers as part of the job.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #11: Be on standby If you suspect your friend, co-worker, staff, or family member of suffering from Domestic Violence, offer to be on standby for her text or call for emergencies. Have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you. If you have a car and need to intervene immediately, make sure that the gas/petrol tank is full so you can get in and drive to get the victim/survivor immediately if need be.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #12: Have an intervention plan. Work out a plan to get an intervention operation in action – have the following numbers on standby for your use:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever the victim/survivor is located.
  • The local police wherever the victim/survivor is located.

Make sure to contact all of these agencies immediately should you receive an urgent SOS from the victim/survivor or if you hear or witness the violence begin and escalate (and in many cases, it may escalate incredibly quickly).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #13: Provide some relief. If you know a Domestic Violence victim/survivor who is being kept at home without relief, do a random act of kindness for her: Offer to babysit the children for a few hours while the abuser is out so she can have a breather; Offer to pick up groceries for her on your grocery run. Every small gesture helps provide relieve and also build the victim’s confidence in eventually reaching out to you for help (or accepting your help).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #14: Check in regularly. If you fear for your friend, co-worker, classmate, or family member’s life, call or text her once a day at a random time to see if she is all right. If it’s your neighbour, keep an eye out on the house and your ears pricked for any signs or sounds of violence.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #15: Be a resource. Help her find the assistance she needs, whether it is legal information, local domestic violence programmes, or finding a safe place through a battered women’s shelter. The greatest danger women face in these situations is often the actual process of leaving, so finding a safe place may be key. Knowing this information beforehand may be helpful, but assisting her in the research and even making phone calls for her will also help speed things up.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #16: Document! Document! Document! Document any incidents that you witness. Take note of dates, times, injuries, and any other observations. Your ongoing documentation can help bolster a victim’s courage and credibility when they are finally willing to pursue legal action against their partner.