Celebrating Strength & Resilience; women’s stories resisting and surviving family violence.
Sophie presented at the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation Australia 2019: Working with Trauma conference in Sydney earlier this year. She presented a film she’d made in a community health setting, Celebrating Strength & Resilience, which explores five women’s journeys through family violence in their own voices. The film was made as an innovative way of working with trauma, addressing the invisibility of survivors and the lack of their voices in the public sphere.
I’d been hearing in my sessions with survivors of family violence that they wanted their stories to heard and believed, because often when they’d sought justice and protection, through courts, police etc. the opposite was happening. They were met with responses that ranged from casual dismissal to systemic denial, reinforcing the silencing and isolation that commonly occurs within family violence. This was causing an exacerbation of their symptoms of trauma.
Through participation in the film project we hoped women could have a different experience in telling their stories, we wanted them to have control over what they said, and how they said it. We weren’t there to question their stories but to hear them and to give them a public platform.
The project recognizes that women’s lived experience makes them compelling authorities on the subject of family violence. And there is something about both the use of first person voice and the sand-play symbols that creates an immediacy and empathy that makes the film incredibly useful as an education tool.
Someone told me after watching the film, that it was the first time she understood why women didn’t “just leave” the relationship; the connection engendered by the film helps us understand the everyday acts of survival and the creative, ingenious and sometimes heartbreaking ways women protect themselves physically and psychologically from perpetrators.
The film has become a rich material resource that can be used as a conversation starter in family violence groups or to train family violence workers and other people working with the public who may encounter women who’ve experienced family violence.
To see the film checkout this link