This week Sally Goldstraw begins the process of sharing with us a series of videos that explore children’s voices within domestic violence. As an art therapist working in family violence, Sally has recently worked with Silverpod Productions, a small company who focus on social advocacy and awareness raising campaigns, in collaboration with WRISC family violence support and Ballarat Aboriginal Co-op. These videos are part of a wider video campaign project called ‘Break the Cycle’ produced by Silverpod Productions and supported by the Indigenous Family Violence Strategy Community Initiatives Fund. Sally describes here the reasons for undertaking this project and the ways in which she worked carefully with others to ensure that children’s voices found a place within the larger public discourse about family violence. She says of the project, “I am so proud of these works as they put children’s voices and art therapy into the story of family violence.” Over the coming weeks we will feature each of these short videos – one at a time – to give you the chance to see and hear the message that the children have shared. For further information about this project contact Sally at WRISC family violence support: firstname.lastname@example.org
The process for the creation of the videos within this project has been inclusive and done with sensitivity to the topic and the individuals involved. The children were not asked to create stories or images for the clips, it was the initiative of Silverpod Productions who contacted the agency to enquire about the possibility of including animated videos from children’s drawings to ensure that they had a voice to advocate for themselves and others by sharing their perspectives. The Silverpod team adapted the stories and experiences that came from these meetings into tangible outcomes that could be shared, with the intention of offering a platform for children to raise awareness of how family violence affects them and to advocate for change in attitudes and behaviors of adults to prevent other young people from experiencing similar situations.
The original drawings that inspired the videos were created within a therapeutic context that was safe and not intended for a public audience. The privacy of the children involved was assured through adapting the art works and interpreting their stories in a way that was authentic yet confidential.
Representatives working within family violence prevention, art therapy and video production worked together to develop these videos, ensuring that the approach and process was ethical and considerate, taking time to talk through the impact of this on the child and family, with the images being inspired by but not identical to the child’s artwork. The voices heard within the videos were from other children, not experiencing family violence so as not to traumatise the children who drew the original images.
In all cases the children and parents liked the thought that they could help other children and families seek help for family violence through their own artworks and experiences. They also felt that their images were valued and seeing them come to life was a positive development for the young artists. This became an empowering process and a part of post-traumatic growth for our small clients.
There are a series of three common stories inspired by children’s experiences. This week we begin with the story, ‘I wish’.
‘I wish’ explores the sense of powerlessness for children who experience family violence.
If anyone requires support and assistance around family violence you can contact:
1800 RESPECT (Women): 1800 732 732
Mens helpline: 1800 000 599/9223 1199
Childrens helpline: 1800 55 1800
As an art therapist our clients work is often alive with meaning and their images tell us how they experience the world during or after family violence. All too often their voices are forgotten. Society in general often thinks that witnessing violence does not impact on children. We know otherwise and the children’s images tell us this. However, many children due to their age do not have the words to describe the terror and powerless. The “I wish” film is a common story. Children may fantasize in therapy about ways of becoming more powerful so that they can stop or escape the violence. Safety is a common theme as is the need for protection of their mother, siblings and themselves.