This organization has its own survival story. It started out as a project. That’s where the name came from. It was a joint effort, between myself and an Atlanta-based organization that helps victims of domestic violence statewide, to tell stories of survival. We wanted to stir up hope, eradicate shame, and share the truth that many won’t let us say, especially publicly. It was my brainchild as a way to fight back against what I had survived myself.
The first story we published was my own, still here on the site. Another story was from a very brave survivor who had experienced trauma both privately and publicly. She shared how she drastically changed her life to get away from her abuser, how no one believed her side of the story, and how her abuser continued to try to use threats to keep her silent and to keep their reputation safe.
I instantly felt a connection with her, as I do with all survivors. We all lived through such similar experiences so we know the toll it takes. And we know the great relief once you are free. The thing about these abusers though, is that it’s hard for them to let go. They like having us around to manipulate, torture, and hurt. To take out whatever pain is festering inside of them and pass it on physically to another.
When I made my own story public, I knew that I was putting myself in harm’s way once again. I knew that my story would find its way to my abuser and that he could retaliate or see it as an invitation to begin the abuse cycle again. I was ready for that though. It was worth it to me to be free of this burdensome secret. Why are forced to protect those who harm us?
I knew what my abusers’ tactics would be and had people to contact in case I needed to get police involved. And while my abuser didn’t face the public facts silently, the greatest threat came from another survivor’s abuser.
I never even knew their name until they threatened me. I never care about the abuser’s identity. I only care about allowing survivors to finally unleash their truth in a stagnant society that screams “we don’t believe you”.
I believe you. This organization believes you. And that is why this project turned itself into an organization. Because not only do we believe you but we will help you fight back. Legally. The inspiration for this project – that, let’s be honest, was really just a blog – was to create a way for survivors to connect. But that abuser, who would have forever remained a nameless nobody to me and everyone else, saw the power in truth and wanted to shut it down.
They succeeded. For a brief moment in time. We shut down the project. My husband and I feared this hostile, dangerous, and threatening person who found out our address. We had neighbors looking out for anything out of the ordinary and to let us know so we could alert the authorities. We were scared.
Fear is powerful though. It’s paralyzing at first, but fear leads to anger, and anger leads to action. I was enraged that the very thing that we were fighting for – the ability for these survivors to share their truth and end the silence – was being stripped away by the very kind of person who gave us these truths to tell. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, or any member of this community, ever again.
I knew the complications of fighting back. I knew what resources were already there (or not) for survivors and victims. I knew, first hand, where the need was: legal fees. We needed to share the true stories still, that in itself is so powerful, but we needed back up. We needed to shut down threats, and help people who couldn’t get out due to the barrier of the insane cost to get a lawyer and get help. We needed to create a legal fund and we needed to become official.
That’s how Survivors Project, Inc. was founded. Not only are we going to tell the stories that connect us and build a powerful, supportive community, we are going to make sure that no matter what, you never have to feel like a victim again. We have your back.