Become an ally in Expression

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As an Ally, you will be a leader in our community, advocating for domestic and sexual violence victims, armed with education materials to inform your network of ways to not only recognize victims, but to help them, too.

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victims and art

Creative arts (art, music, dance, drama, writing) have long been used to express feelings, evoke strong emotions and encourage others to understand a point of view. In recent decades, art has also become a form of therapy used to help victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Creativity and self expression are often not allowed in a controlling and violent household. Art allows survivors to find their creativity and expression again. Sometimes it takes a long time for a victim to be comfortable making art, but inevitably, when it starts to happen it starts to restore the sense of possibility and hope. 

leaders in art

Artists are a creative, innovative group of individuals that have found a unique skill that allows them to express their thoughts, emotions, highlight atrocities and beauties found in the world. This passionate group often use their medium to bring awareness to inequalities and violence, including domestic and sexual violence. The creation of these exhibits or shows bring media attention to the issues and raise the communities' awareness of the need for change.

Artists and art help individual survivors, too.  When victims see something that represents their victimization, it helps them to feel that they are not alone. Witnessing artists share their stories, through different forms of medium, also allows victims to see success and safety can and do happen to many survivors.

The more artists that take a stand against domestic and sexual violence, the more our community will take note and question why there is such protest against this violence.

Artists discussing their victimization

“People couldn’t believe it happened to me unless I showed them my photos. They had this preconceived idea of what a domestic violence victim should look like."

-Artist Diane Smith

"I walked out without anything and had to make it on my own for my family and everyone so I just went back to work for myself. It was very difficult and dangerous because Ike was a violent person and at that point he was on drugs and very insecure. I had no money. I had no place to go."

-Tina Turner, Singer

“A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously.”


-Rhianna, Singer

"I think it's really important to share my own story with women who've been abused, because going through that experience has lead me to where I am today: It's given me the strength and motivation to be the best that I can be."

-Christina Augliera, Singer

“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss.I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing.”

-Jane Fonda, Actress

"I remember feeling paralyzed. It took me a while to pull myself together and get on with my creative life — to get on with my life. I took comfort in the poetry of Maya Angelou, and the writings of James Baldwin, and in the music of Nina Simone. I remember wishing that I had a female peer that I could look to for support." Discussing her rape.

-Madonna, Singer

Art THerapy

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Evidence shows art therapies help victims of violence in several areas*:

  • Self Regulation-the ability to control one's emotions when under stress. When victims become good self regulators they can calm themselves down when upset and respond to the adverse experience with resilience.
  • Right-Brain Dominance-When a violent experience traumatizes an individual, there is wide agreement that the left side of brain may temporarily go offline; that is, the left brain’s language center may be affected and logical, linear narratives about the trauma may become unavailable. The right brain stores trauma memories in sensory-based forms—sounds, sights, and other fragments of experiences in non-linear, non-verbal forms.
  • Integration-the ability to think about, or discuss, the trauma without reliving the experience.
  • Meaning Making-creating art helps the victim express the trauma experienced, this process helps the brain make sense and meaning out of what has happened.

Art projects bring a voice and attention to domestic and sexual violence

The Clothesline Project

The Clothesline Project (CLP) is an ongoing art exhibit designed to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women. Started by a group of women in Massachusetts in 1990, organizations around the world now take part in this project. The CLP allows women who have experienced violence to take a shirt and decorate it how they would like and then display the shirt on the clothesline for others to view.  

For more information visit The Clothesline Project

*Picture from The Clothesline Project website.

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Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness and Music

The music industry has one of the largest platforms available to reach people in the community. There are many music artists that take this opportunity to highlight the struggles and pain victims of domestic and sexual violence experience. Musicans are able to put into words the feelings and internal struggles victims experience. Combine these words with powerful music and listeners are transported to the world of the victim.

These songs can help victims find strength they didn't know they had, hope that they thought was lost and even knowledge that they aren't alone. The same songs help people who have never been a victim of violence empathize with victims and bring awareness to the cause.

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Silent Witness Project

What started out as a lunchtime conversation between female artists has turned into a worldwide art exhibit bringing attention to the number of women and children killed in a domestic violence incident. The first project was created for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, 1990, and now has participants across the world.

This art project creates wooden female silhouettes for the women killed the previous year and places a plaque on the silhouettes chest identifying the victim and retelling her story in hopes to bring awareness to the thousands of women killed each year by a romantic partner. There is also one extra silhouette at each exhibit, representing the unknown victim whose murder went unreported. 

Television Shows Raising Awareness 

There are an estimated 57 million people who watch TV regularly. With this large of an audience, television has a the ability to sway public opinion and bring awareness to issues that very few truly understand.  Domestic and sexual violence have been two of the issues that television can highlight through programming, though it struggles to not sensationalize the violence. When victims see scenarios on their favorite shows that end in death or extreme mutilation, they can become extremely fearful to leave, fearing if they leave they will experience the same fate. Or, victims will feel that their victimization are not that bad and therefore they must not be a "true" victim, causing many victims to not seek help as others must need it worse than they do. 

In hopes of effecting change around domestic and sexual violence, it is essential for television shows to begin to show the nuances of these violent relationships, not just the extreme cases. When people can begin to recognize themselves, or ones they love, in a TV character, they can begin to see how far reaching domestic and sexual violence can be. 

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What artists can do to support victims

Creating expressive, emotional pieces of art is a talent and a skill that not everyone has. This ability holds a unique method to garner the community's attention on an issue that affects so many. 

Ways to enhance your community's awareness of domestic and sexual violence:

  1. Educate yourself about the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence.
  2. Listen to survivors in your community and ask them for ideas on how you can better support them.
  3. Invite Hope Alliance to speak and facilitate discussions with members of your organization.
  4. Learn how to support and get involved with Hope Alliance.
  5. Gather fellow artists and create a show that will bring attention to the cause.
  6. Display phone numbers and posters about Hope Alliance's services and hotline number at your shows.
  7. Participate in Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April).
  8. Organize or join a task force or council within your faith community to address domestic and sexual violence.

*Information gathered from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201310/creative-art-therapy-brain-wise-approaches-violence

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