I'm breaking the silence, this is my story, the family I grew up in. I'm working from the inside.
In partnership with SafeLives whose patron is the Duchess of Cornwall, these portraits, shot on film, will help to transform the narrative of domestic violence.
The Duchess wrote : “I have often said that domestic violence is characterised by silence: of the abused, of the abuser and of those who don’t know how to intervene." Let us break the silence.
Sarah, "It’s imperative that stories like mine are heard. You felt my emotion today as a woman, mother and nurse. I’ve had to bury that for over a decade until today when I sat for my portrait, there was no voice for me."
The Femicide Census for 2018 shows 149 women killed, the highest number since census began. Only 6% of women were killed by a stranger. In the UK in 2018 were killed by a current or former partner, many after they had taken steps to leave. During the first three months of Covid-19 lockdown three times as many women were killed than in the same period last year, at least 5 a week. Many people and children were locked inside a home with an abusive partner. The pressure on refuges increases and the funding is cut.
Domestic abuse is fundamentally linked to inequality, which intersects with other forms of discrimination, such as race and disability. However, same sex couples, trans people and men also suffer, ultimately this is about power.
Using art to give a voice to those often denied power is something I feel passionately about.
Suzanne Jacob OBE, SafeLives Chief Executive, said:
“It is totally unacceptable that one in four girls born today will go on to experience domestic abuse in their relationships. We currently play a waiting game, waiting until those relationships are formed before we step in.
“To prevent future victims, we must take urgent action now. This starts with education – in schools but also in its very broadest sense - teaching all young people what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like, and what their rights and responsibilities are to each other. This education must be reflective of all relationships, whatever form they take.
“We know that many victims still remain ‘hidden’. Hidden from statistics and hidden from the help they urgently need. Younger girls often worry that they’re less deserving of help or that what’s available won’t suit them. If we work together we can ensure every child and young woman can live a life free from fear.”
Collaborating with writer and activist Celia Peachy of SafeLives and Laura Noble (L.A. Noble Gallery, London) who is painting beautiful backdrops. Further cloth will have phrases from the subjects embroidered into them. We will explore the healing process and transform how both men and women behave in abusive situations.
Jessica, "I see being the survivor of a controlling and abusive relationship as now being someone who can speak up, I can be confident in controlling my own life, my own needs and not letting myself be a victim but letting it shape the person I have become today, a mother, a wife and a successful career person.”
Sophie, "I know that my disability and wheelchair make me vulnerable and an easy target for some men.”
Samantha, “ I was heavily pregnant and slept in my car outside the refuge. It was full.”
Hayley, “ The coercive behaviour got worse and worse. It got to the point that I would have my phone on silent after work, they tried to stop me from seeing my friends... I came back one day to find them going through my phone bills..demanding to know whose number this was and that was. It was shoved in my face.They were a compulsive liar. I knew things weren't right. Lots of things. They tried to make out like I was crazy/mad. Somehow, I kept my mind and didn't allow them infiltrate it.”