Recently, I was asked to do an interview for an online magazine about Rebel Thriver. I am thrilled when people are interested in what I do and what drives me. Not only does it get some important lifesaving information out to people, but it reaffirms what I want to continue building with Rebel Thriver. xo Ella
“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass
1) Who is Ella Hicks?
I’m first and foremost a mother of a couple of incredible kids. I am a trained artist, mentor, surfer, and a peddler of hope. I am a survivor of many things, however my biggest battle came during my 12-year marriage to a very sick abusive man. It’s amazing how one relationship can change the entire trajectory of your life. I had to run for my life with my young children on my hip and leave behind my home, kick ass career, colleagues, and friends in return for our freedom and safety. I believe that everyone survives something in this lifetime and that we’re all in this together; we don’t have to settle for feeling like we lost the lottery. With some deep soul work and determination we can change our thoughts and how we perceive things; we can change the course of our lives. You just need to be open for a positive shift to take place in your life…we’re so often more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. We are here to do so much more than simply survive our lives; we must give ourselves permission to thrive and to truly live.
To read more about how I rebooted my life check out my blog, Rebel Thriver: www.rebelthriver.org
2) What is Rebel Thriver?
Rebel Thriver started as an online blog as an outlet for me to get my thoughts out there and to connect with other survivors of domestic violence. The name Rebel Thriver came about in a two-fold way. I was really tired of being labeled a survivor, even through I am forever grateful that I am one. I felt that the weight of the word was holding me back. I wanted more for myself. I wanted to live a “thriving” life again. Where did “Rebel” come from? As a result of the domestic abuse in my own life I must always be extremely careful about putting myself out there in the public eye. Like so many other survivors once we leave an abusive relationship it doesn’t mean that it is over. Often after we leave it becomes even more dangerous. Many women are stalked and hunted down by the abuser, so for a woman like me simply writing a blog is a rebellious act. Shortly after starting the Rebel Thriver Blog I created a Facebook page which started off our social media campaign. We call ourselves a “tribe” because no matter where you are in this world there is always a hand that can reach that far and give some comfort. We literally span the globe.
3) Who does this organization reach out to?
4) What are the goals of Rebel Thriver?Ultimately, the goal of Rebel Thriver is to become a Non-Profit Company. This is something that I am working very hard on right now. I want to be able to offer valuable resources to people who are looking to reboot their lives, such as workshops, life coaching, a retreat center, legal advocacy, and so much more. Since we are international it’s a big undertaking but I know that with many small steps one can walk miles. I am undeterred and ultimately I dream of community center in every country in which we are present. That would be amazing!
5) How has Rebel Thriver empowered survivors?
First I will speak for myself because in my attempt to help others I have empowered myself. In the process of reinforcing a positive message of self-love and self-worth I began to walk the talk (no one likes a hypocrite). This has changed my life in so many ways. I am so much stronger because of the people who I am blessed to help. Not a day goes by where someone shares with me a personal triumph. Perhaps they left their abusive partner or their shitty job. It might be that they were thinking of suicide and chose not to because of the message they received at “just the right moment.” There are many women that have left abusive relationships and have moved onto to healthy happy lives now as a result of being a part of the Rebel Thriver Tribe. “Freedom” and “Believe” are important words for us. I am no different from anyone else. I don’t have a magic wand to make things all better, but I face my challenges everyday and I’ve made a decision for myself to always rise. I never thought that my horrid experience would make me a role model for others, but watching another person succeed is powerful medicine. Especially, for someone who is just starting to try to figure it all out and rebuild their life again.
6) What is your definition of domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse affects many. It can be child abuse, spousal abuse, or abuse between other family members. It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence encompasses a spectrum of behaviors that abusers use to control their victims.
How can we recognize the signs objectively?
We refer to the signs of domestic violence as “red flags.” Many people in retrospect admit that they saw the signs early on in their relationship, but didn’t think they deserved better or by the time they realized it they were in too deep. It needs to be said that abuse is never the fault of the victim. It can be hard for many reasons to end the relationship with an abuser, and safety is on the top of the list. If you experience these “red flags,” please confide in a friend or reach out for support from a domestic violence advocate. If you believe a friend or relative is being abused, offer your non-judgemental support and help.
Some examples of “red flags” are:
- A new interest wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
- Early in the relationship they flatter you constantly, and seem “too good to be true.”
- They wants you all to him or herself; insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
- Insists that you stop participating in hobbies or activities, quit school, or quit your job. This is all about isolating you.
- Does not honor your boundaries.
- Is excessively jealous and accuses you of being unfaithful.
- Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails, and texts you throughout the day.
- Criticizes or puts you down; says you are crazy, stupid, and/or fat/unattractive, or that no one else would ever want or love you.
- Takes no responsibility for his or her behavior and blames others…a “victim mentality.”
- Has a history of abusing other people and/or animals.
- Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on his or her former partner; for example, “My ex was totally crazy.”
- Takes your money or runs up your credit card debt. Has no accountability.
- Rages out of control with you but can maintain composure around others.
Abuse is never the fault of the victim and it can be hard for many reasons to end the relationship with an abuser, and safety is at the top of the list. If you experience these “red flags,” please confide in a friend or reach out for support from a local domestic violence advocate. If you believe a friend or relative is being abused, offer your help and non-judgmental support.
7) What is the pattern or cycle that battered women or men go through?
Domestic violence is often generational. It is cyclical and repeats itself over and over. It can become learned behavior for children involved. The cycle of violence is best explained through a graphic chart. I like the one supplied by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (below left) and we also use a simplified one to get the info out there in a more basic way. The cycle can be broken!
For more help and information:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
or TTY 1-800-787-3224
- WomensLaw Email Hotline: hotline.womenslaw.org
- List of State/Territory Domestic Coalitions: nnedv.org/coalitions
How can readers support Rebel Thriver’s message?
The best way to help Rebel Thriver is to get our message out there by sharing our posters and blog posts. We have over 171K followers on Facebook and the community there is amazing. We also have an amazing Instagram community of over 55k. Join in the conversation. Share our posts and encourage people to come join us as well. This year we will be offering our first online workshop open for the public as well as life coaching sessions. If you know of anyone who is struggling to find their way please tell them to hold on. Let them know that there is help and there is hope.
8) How has creating this organization shed light on your artistic qualities?
I love this question because I am a trained artist and before I had to flee my abusive marriage I was blessed to have a career that I loved and was very successful in. Abuse can destroy entire lives and leave people feeling like they have nothing to live for. Many like myself have to walk away from everything and start over completely. For me this meant that I had to leave the career I loved so very much behind, along with my friends, and colleagues. When I started writing the Rebel Thriver Blog I could barely string three sentences together because my brain was in such a fog. I signed up for a creative writing class at the local college as a challenged to myself. I got straight A’s and the blog was born. In addition to the writing I also love being able to make all the inspirational posters that we use on our social media sites. They are a big part of my therapy and usually they coincide with my daily struggles and triumphs. Finally, we started a merchandise line recently at the request of many people. All of the profits go directly back into helping Rebel Thriver grow into the awesome nonprofit company that we are working so hard towards.
If you would like more information on Rebel Thriver you can contact me, Ella Hicks, through our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We would love you to join us as well on our new website: www.rebelthriver.org
There you will find links to our Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr pages as well as links to the Rebel Thriver online shop.