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Guest blog: Victims expressing their experience through art

Posted: Monday 23rd September 2019
Blog: September
Carol Metters CEO of SAFE Link Sexual Violence services and Next Link Domestic abuse services talks about the ‘Yoko Ono Exhibition - Interventions/2’

Interventions/2 is a series of avant-garde films by artist and activist Yoko Ono and the films will play in rooms throughout the Georgian House in Bristol until 31 December. Arising’, a more recent work addressing the abuse of women, will also feature within the exhibition. It was first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and Next Link and SAFE Link are delighted to be collaborators with the curator and artist Jimmy Galvin and Bristol Museum in this work.

We are very excited to be part of this exhibition; it is an amazing opportunity to promote the support we offer and to give a platform to victims whose experiences are so often hidden. Giving victims a voice in the art world is new and radical. It extends the reach of victims and opens a door to a new audience that is normally off limits. It enables victims lived experience to be part of the conversation.

When Jimmy Galvin the curator and Becky from Bristol Museum came to talk to us about the new exhibition we were not sure if victims would want to take part. We talked to our support workers and they were very enthusiastic and positive. They discussed the exhibition at the Georgian House with our service users and explained that we needed photos of just their eyes so they wouldn’t be identified, along with a short hand-written piece about their experience.

Straight away women said yes they wanted to do it and then it snow-balled. At the last count over 65 victims had participated. The victims thought it was particularly apt that the event was taking place in a house as so often their abuse happened in their own homes behind closed doors.

Throughout the creation of the piece, we have been inspired by the number of victims who wanted to tell their story as a way of helping others. We were overwhelmed with the number of women who wanted to contribute and help. We are very proud and feel privileged to be a part of the work.

We know that the abuse of women is an issue close to Yoko Ono’s heart and the ‘Arising’ piece reflects this. Thanks to the collaboration between the victims that use our services, the curator and the Bristol Museum we have ensured that local survivors are central to the piece

We have also delivered awareness training to museum staff next week so they feel confident to respond to anyone who discloses that they are victims.

We are looking forward to seeing the piece and workers are busy organising trips with the women to visit the exhibition when it is open. We hope it will enable more victims to see they are not alone and know there is help available if they come forward.

Safe Link provides independent support for women, men and children who have been victims of rape or sexual assault. If you or someone you know needs support, please contact 0333 323 1543 or visit https://safelinksupport.co.uk/

To find out more about other victim services that are supported by the PCC, visit: https://www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk/Partnerships/Victim-Services.aspx


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