Domestic violence survivors find voice through Foxton art exhibition

Manwatu Standard - Paul Mitchell, 2 November 2018

Original article

 

Like many women, Jaymie Mundy didn't realise she was a victim in an abusive relationship. 

When she finally found the strength to leave it, she had to go through the Family Court, which she said revictimised her. 

It was this experience that led the Foxton Beach woman to put up her hand to be one of 24 artists involved in the month-long No Shame, No Silence exhibition launched at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton on Thursday.

The exhibition aims to highlight domestic violence and the need to reform the Family Court.

Levin artist Sarah-Jayne Shine said the legal process too often made things worse for the victim.

 

 

Sarah-Jayne Shine

She came up with the idea for the exhibition after taking part in a march on Parliament last August to deliver a petition calling for an inquiry into the Family Court's treatment of domestic violence victims.

She said the inquiry still hadn't happened and it made her feel helpless, which was a familiar feeling – she was in her first abusive relationship when she was 17 and had gone through the Family Court after leaving another abusive partner.

"I was sick of feeling helpless. All I had was my art, so I started organising this exhibition. For me, it was 20 months of hell. There are artists in this exhibition who've been in the Family Court system for decades."

Mundy met Shine at the march and was the first to sign on for the exhibition – and she has poured her own story into her art.

She said the system almost encouraged people to rip each other apart to gain advantage, as long as they kept it civil on the surface.

"Your behaviour, everything, it's all considered in a void. People call you names, make accusations and dissect your life and you have to be nice."

Mundy said she had once confided in her ex-partner that she had been raped when she was younger and he used it in court in an attempt to discredit her.

"I had to listen for 45 minutes while he said I made it up so I wasn't a fit parent, and then that it did happen and the trauma of it made me too damaged to be a good mother."

Mundy hoped sharing her story and her art could bring comfort to others going through similar situations.

The art will be sold to raise money for the women and children's advocacy group Backbone Collective, as well as Women's Refuge.

The display runs until December 15.

Karen Hansen