When I Became Free

$337 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 6 people in 7 months
32020132_1535307992189127_r.jpeg#WhenIBecameFree  is a project I started 3 years ago but needed to put on the backburner for a couple of reasons . Earlier this year I made the decision to give it my all and get it completed. 

#WhenIBecameFree is an effort to bring out the stories of survivors of abuse; child sexual, domestic violence, and/or sexual assault.  For the past few months, I have been interviewing survivors living in my rural area of Wisconsin. These remarkable people come from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. Their life experiences are compelling. 

As a survivor of child sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual assault as an adult, I know firsthand the trauma such crimes can have on an individual. I also know firsthand how difficult it is to rebuild a life as you try to heal, especially in rural America where resources are scarce and gossip is rampant.  It is an isolation all on its own. 

The stories I am collecting, along with my own, are being compiled in a book that will be self-published. Many of the survivors I have interviewed have agreed to be videotaped. Clippings from those interviews will be edited together into a mini-documentary.

My goals in completing this project are to bring about awareness on many levels. 

1) The lack of resources 
2) The strength of survivors
3) That surrounding each one us are many people who have a remarkable story of survival. 

To do this project, correctly, it has turn into a full-time job.  Through it all, I am also guiding other survivors through their healing and helping them find whatever resources we can so that they may build a life free from abuse and break cycles.  Victims are searching me out for assistance due to the lack of resources in our county. 

We are already seeing many positives come out of the project including a newly organized group of survivors in Juneau County, Wisconsin, who have bonded together on the local level to be a support system for one another and victims seeking to become survivors.  Survivors Offering Support, Juneau County (SOS).

Together we are working on a new program, Kelli's Haven, which would bring together our community - the businesses, churches, and organizations in providing a safe refuge for those escaping abuses. Those who participate in Kelli's Haven will have a symbol posted in their window and be advertised as a "safe place" for anyone seeking help to walk into, be provided a secure room to phone and wait for police and/or an advocate. There will be resource material at all of the locations.  Each entity that takes part will receive training on how to assist a person in crisis. We already have many businesses throughout our county who have said they are more than willing to be a Kelli's Haven. 

Kelli's Haven is named after a young woman I first interviewed when I started the #WhenIBecameFree project. Tragically she suffered many years of physical abuse, emotional neglect and sexual abuse at the hand's of her father, including becoming pregnant and giving birth to his children.  Many times over those years Kelli attempted to escape but ran into a rural vast land with no real direction on where to go for help. When she tried to reach out, many didn't understand what was before their eyes and walked away.  Kelli's father did end up being eventually prosecuted for his crimes and only served a few years in prison.  

For more on Kelli's story read: Hidden Family Secrets 

Once the book is completed and published, 50 percent will go towards Survivors Offering Support (S.O.S) for a crisis fund and also to Kelli's Haven.  Then 25 percent will go to ILead Charter School for helping in creating the video. The remaining 25 percent will help me recoup any financial loss, marketing, and seed money for my next project, a children's book on trauma and understanding emotion. 

We do not have a crisis shelter in our county. 
We do not have an advocacy organization in our county, survivors must reach out to neighboring counties for advocacy assistance. In the last few days, I have personally been contacted by over 8 victims looking for help. 
Our story is repeated throughout this county in other rural areas. If we can pull us up by the bootstraps, then maybe we can be a model for others to follow. 

I need financial help to keep this project going - to keep reaching out to victims - to market the project - to print materials and also then for the cost of self-publishing.  Yes, it is a full-time endeavor and I am nearing the point of compiling the chapters for publication. 

I have attained (2) businesses who paid for sponsorship:
Wisconsin River Meats 
Benders Family Restraurant 

And from 

Kyle Roberts Blues,  my 20-year-old son, who has donated money and in-kind support as he will write and perform the music for the video. 

And individuals have donated to the project

As much as I hate to say it, I need to fundraise to keep the project and myself afloat as I do the work. (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW HARD THAT WAS FOR ME TO TYPE!)

Visit When I Became Free  on Facebook

I also have an Ebay account where I am selling items to help fund this project 

I am told this is my calling, and yes, I do feel it.  But I cannot keep up at the pace that I have without support, so I am asking for it.  I may not have a lot in material things, but I do have a lot of passion and compassion when it comes to this topic. Somehow, it will get completed.
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Crowdfunding has been around for a while now but even so, I am finding that some do not understand how it works or why a creative or social project would choose to go that route. I cannot say why others have chosen this route, but I can explain why I did with the #WhenIBecameFree project. So, here we go...........

1) It is an excellent way to promote a project, especially one that focuses on social issues like domestic violence, child abuse, child sexual assault and/or rape.

2) People who decide to support a crowdfunding project are invested in it the moment they donate and I don't mean just being financially invested, I mean emotionally. They want to see the project become a success. It builds a community around the idea and goals of the project - all of which creates awareness. That is the main goal of #WhenIBecameFree

3) Projects are costly - there are real financial considerations for a project to be a success.
A) Marketing - for instance with #WhenIBecameFree I spend money out of my pocket to purchase advertising. In the past, I have run ads in the newspaper and I continue to run ads on social media platforms. The ads that I choose to run are not to ask for money, but to promote awareness around what the #WhenIBecameFree project is and the survivors who have shared their stories. Once again, for #WhenIBecameFree, it is all about awareness.

B) Time - I don't even want to calculate the time (real hours) I've put into this project - I think it would scare the hell out of me if I did and all of that started years ago when I came up with the #WhenIBecameFree idea. Below is a short summary of what has gone into this project.
1) Website design and costs - including keeping the domain going for years.
2) Graphic arts - time spent on creating all the graphic arts; logo, posters, memes
3) Interviewing survivors - on average I spend anywhere between 2 - 4 hours for the interviews. Then there are follow up emails and conversations. For every survivor story I share a glimpse into on this blog, there are at least two more that will never see the light of day because while I met with the survivor, they were not ready for their story to be told. They were still caught in the drama and needed an advocate more than a writer to share their path with the world. If that is what is needed, then I do my best to guide them through the resources they need and be their support should it be sitting with them and in on a meeting with law enforcement or an agency OR just that ear when they need to vent. This requires a lot of 1:1 time, which I freely give. I cannot just say, "Oh well, you're not ready, bye" - that would go against everything that this project is about. #WhenIBecameFree is about healing - honesty - truths - support. I do my best to give them all of that and continue to even after the interview or meeting is over. Also, if the survivors I meet with have less than me, I buy them lunch or coffee. It is the least I can do.
4) Research- My forte. Research takes up endless hours. It is what I am doing into the wee hours of the morning. I am constantly searching for new resources, updated information and yes, if there is information to back up a survivor's story, I will look for it and make sure I have it. That is the reporter in me - it keeps the integrity of this project intact and will help protect survivors should there be any questions from naysayers. Obviously, every claim cannot be substantiated, but those that can, will.
5) Writing - The end result of this project is a book. A book about the lives of survivors, including my own story. To keep the pace of awareness and interest in the project going, I share glimpses of this journey, here on this blog. Believe it or not, for each post I write, at least an hour and up to 2 hours goes into the writing. There are days it takes me just an hour to wrap my head around how I want to present something and get out that first sentence. From there I just let the words flow. This blog is not about perfection, it is about awareness and being real. When it comes time to put everything together for the book, which will begin this weekend, I expect to spend up to 8 hours a day, writing - for weeks. Then there will be editing... and more editing...and more.
6) Outreach - This is a daily reality and need. You can find me on the phone, writing emails, or in meetings, presenting #WhenIBecameFree to anyone and everyone I can reach. When I am not doing that I am keeping the social media accounts for #WhenIBecameFree, updated. This is more than a full-time effort, it is a lifestyle. And that takes up every minute of my day. It is no different than an artist working on their painting or a musician giving their all to their music.
7) Fundraising to keep me and this project going.

All of the above is just to get to the point of self-publishing. It does not include all the outreach and marketing needed to get that book into the hands of readers. And why do I need to do that? For AWARENESS and raising funds.... those profits will not be sending me on vacation or buying me a new car, they will be invested back into the community that supported the #WhenIBecameFree project to begin with....

50 percent of the profits will go to Survivors Offering Support, (S.O.S), Juneau County. A group that was started as an offshoot of the #WhenIBecameFree project and from when the survivors interviewed met and bonded to create change in our rural community that lacks resources, needed resources that could have made it easier for each one of them to break free. The money that goes to S.O.S. is to be split between a crisis fund for victims escaping abuse (Domestic and/or Sexual) AND for Kelli's Haven, an initiative that will hopefully bring about safe places throughout our communities for victims to access whenever and wherever they can to call law enforcement and/or an advocate. Businesses, churches, and non-profits will need to sign on and go through training to work with people in crisis. Again, it is about helping victims live to be survivors and awareness.

25 percent will go to ILead Charter School. When I first started this project I worked with the students at the school. To get the video documentary completed I will be once again working with one of those students. This effort will bring awareness to a younger generation and help that school keep doing the good work that they do.

That final 25 percent will go towards recouping some of my losses by carrying out this project and then also for more marketing. Should there be anything left after that, it will become seed money for my next project, a children's book on trauma and emotions, illustrated by my son, Kyle, who is a survivor of growing up with domestic violence and alcoholism in our home.
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$337 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 6 people in 7 months
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Kyle Roberts
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