Dirty laundry gets an airing

Shop-front windows in the Casino area will be showing a diverse range of t-shirts for the next few weeks. Until November 25, t-shirts designed by women who have suffered the effects of domestic violence will be on public display. As part of a campaign to raise awareness about domestic and family violence in the Casino area, the women were invited to take part in a facilitated art workshop to put their experiences with domestic violence onto a t-shirt.

Niki Belmaine, co-ordinator of the Casino Youth Service, organised the workshops, which were held in late October.

“The women’s experiences were very personal and diverse,” Ms Belmaine said. “There were basic political concepts about what people think and say about domestic violence as well as very intimate things and how it can affect families views.”

One of the t-shirts had a poem written freehand onto it, which was described as follows by the artist: “I found this poem incredible moving, the decription of how domestic violence begins and can escalate. The terrible tragedy of women being killed is something I want to acknowledge. This t-shirt is for those women who have not survived.”

Another artist described her t-shirt painted with purple hearts: “This represents the mother with a broken heart, grandmother and children all connected and deeply affected.”

Ms Belmaine said that social workers attended the workshop, and the group sat together to discuss issues informally.

“Many of them said that they were happy to have the opportunity to do this in a safe place and to feel supported,” she said. “Most people have had some experience with emotional or physical domestic violence on some level. If they haven’t experienced it personally, it’s likely they’ll know someone close to them who has. There were women at the workshop who had been in relationships with other women – it crossed all boundaries,” she said.

“This event took place with the support of community. People stood up and said we will take this on, this delicate issue, to make people who’ve had DV experiences feel supported and included in the community,” Ms Belmaine said.

A gathering will be held to close the exhibition on November 25 and people are invited to attend and continue the process of raising awareness about this important issue. For more information, phone Niki Belmaine on 6662 6944.

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