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  • Anonymous Survivor

How Gabby Inspired Me

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I’m not sure I’m articulating it well enough, so please forgive me if this seems rambling or disorganised. Also please forgive me for how long this is. Essentially, Gabby freed me from blaming myself for the abuse I have received, demonstrated the reality of what it means to be a victim (which took away the shame), and came to represent a triumph over abuse. I hope that last part doesn’t sound insensitive, but what I mean is that in a world where an abuser tries to smear and malign their victim, to blame them and shame them, Gabby still rose above that. For whatever reason, Gabby was special. People took to her. People could sense, I think, that she was a good person. The lies and smears just didn’t stick. We felt, collectively, that we wanted to protect her, and that something was wrong. I don’t know how to explain that phenomenon other than calling it a miracle, because before we were aware she had passed, people could feel her warmth and wanted to find her. Although Gabby is no longer here, her truth has risen up. As a woman, I remember feeling that something was wrong and off. It was like a sense we have, that this was a person that could have been our own friend or sister, and we felt something like loyalty? It’s hard to describe, but many of us have either been in that position, or had friends who have been there. The way people, especially women, came together for Gabby was something hopeful and brilliant. Gabby was so vibrant, sunny, courageous, hopeful, creative and special. She was the sort of girl you’d want to be friends with because she gave off such happy, warm vibes. For me, it was a kind of groundbreaking moment in self-compassion. People still blame victims, they can call them stupid, or make them out to be the villains. Yet we had Gabby’s own voice and testimony thanks to her social media presence. It woke people up to the fact that victims don’t get targeted because of any fault in them, but often it’s the kindest people, the most nurturing, the most compassionate, because they are the ones that trust in others, give their love and support to those around them, and believe that people can do better. For me, that shone through in Gabby. Especially with what we know about how controlling her abuser became. It was like a light clicked on for me, and for others. (I have been a victim myself, but not in a romantic relationship). It was Gabby’s freedom and joy and talent that was so threatening to people like her abuser. She simply wouldn’t be controlled. Her soul and spirit were too free. It helped me with self-compassion, and in compassion for others. In a world where we can often blame a victim, Gabby was this shining example that often victims are kind, they trust in others, they want to help, and this is a wonderful thing. It’s no flaw in them, it’s wickedness in those who would hurt anyone so loving. We could all see Gabby’s talent, even in the vlog she posted. It was a high standard, it looked fun, it was well edited. She had creative gifts, and selfish, jealous people cannot seem to handle those (especially young women) who possess talent and potential. They see that talent, and they try to squash it. They are insecure, narcissistic, and self-loathing, and it is unfortunately good, brilliant people like Gabby who want to help those who are wounded. You can see in the vlog that Gabby is trying to make her abuser feel comfortable, to include him, to soothe him. Yet it was not enough. It never is enough. I believe Gabby was someone bubbling over with compassion, who wanted to connect with the world and heal things where she could. It is no flaw in her that she wanted to heal her abuser. It is a sign of her strength and brilliance that she wanted to see the best in him. She was not foolish or naïve. She was loving, caring, and nurturing. I think the world needed to see this in a victim, because it can be so hard for those who have not lived it to recognise the dynamic. In terms of victim blaming and the dynamics of abuse, when Gabby was so apologetic and upset when talking to police, some people simply did not understand what was at play, but for many of us, it was heart-breaking, but also something that changed our lives. For me personally, I saw myself. After being abused and hurt, I would blame myself, I would make excuses. I wanted to see the good, and I didn’t want strangers to think badly of my loved one. I wanted to protect them even then. I think this incident, captured on camera, as horrific as it must have been for those who knew her, allowed many people to see the truth, which was that Gabby’s radical compassion, her desire to protect the very person who hurt her, was not a flaw. It was a gift, but one that was used to harm her. We saw her abuser so calm, covering his tracks, and I think many of us realised that in him was a version of our own abusers. As we scrambled to make excuses for them, to help them, wanting them to heal, they were willing to hurt our reputations and use our kindness against us. Gabby played it all down, she only wanted peace and love, for things to be better. Through her sorrow, at such a terrible low moment for her, she was still thinking of him and his reputation. When people ask why victims take the blame initially, they don’t understand that it’s part of the process. They can use this early blame taking to imply mutual abuse or to suggest the victim was the perpetrator. The reality, as Gabby has showed the world, is that a victim still tries to protect those they love. They will protect even those who hurt them. That’s not weakness. They are not to blame. I know that in a lot of cases, we blame ourselves. We are made to believe that if only we’d been different in some way, we wouldn’t have been abused. But Gabby showed and still does show that there is no shame or weakness in being a victim, because it’s not any negative reflection on that person, and in many ways it’s a mark of someone having something special about them and holding potential, because abuse is so often about jealousy. Gabby was a brave, brilliant, and bold young woman. I can’t imagine even getting to the planning stages of travelling the country, let alone actually doing it! She demonstrates, in a world of victim blaming, that her only ‘crime’ was being loving and talented. Abusers latch onto people with talent and kindness, and in their jealousy they have to bring them down to size. It is their weakness. They are intimidated by the victim’s positive qualities. They try to make them small, because what they know is that their victim’s impact is vast, their potential is vast, and that in comparison, they haven’t got a lot to offer. I think of Gabby often, because she helped me come to terms with my own situation. I am trying, now, to stop making excuses for those who abuse me. I am trying not to hide my passions and talents to make others more comfortable and less likely to hurt me. I also find great hope in her story, despite the sad way it ended, because ultimately Gabby has touched the world. People still think of Gabby, people know she was talented, when people hear her name they think of that smiling, beautiful, brave young woman. I think of a free spirit. Gabby was working on her social media presence and her vlog, because she wanted to help inspire people, and she has. She truly has. She’s probably saved countless lives. I’m grateful that she was here and I’m so sorry for those who knew and loved her, and also the world, which has lost a great advocate, and someone who I am sure would have used her creativity and compassion to spread joy and knowledge. I hope this wasn’t too long, or overstepping in any way. When I hear Gabby’s name now, I think of a young woman smiling, laughing, hiking, barefoot, being free. I believe her being here was a miracle. I really, truly believe she has saved, and will save, countless lives.

-An Anonymous Survivor

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Dana Schwab
Dana Schwab
Oct 16, 2023

By the way that was so well written in how Gabby inspired you. Every single word could be felt. I am blown away by the similarities thank you for such a eloquent translation of the life I lived with a person that didn't appreciate my goodness.

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