One in four women will be victims of severe domestic violence in their lifetime. Every nine seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. In the United States, 4,774,000 women experience domestic violence each year, and three women are murdered by a current or former domestic partner every day. Eight million children witness domestic violence each year.
Local organizations such as Victim Response Inc. which operates The Lodge — one of two certified shelters for victims of domestic violence and their children in Miami-Dade County — provide refuge, crisis counseling, classes and legal resources, and promote safety and independence. Since opening in 2004, they have sheltered more than 3,800 victims. In 2014 alone, they received 3,000 hotline calls.
These are shocking statistics, but what really got people talking recently was the video of Ray Rice punching his fiancée in an elevator. Why is it that these numbers just make our eyes glaze over, but when we see images of domestic violence, the severity of this problem starts to register?
Studies have shown that people react more strongly when they see images as opposed to reading text. If that is the case, maybe another way of raising awareness and promoting change is through the arts and media.
It is critical to continue the dialogue. Art and media can do this by reinforcing a message. Artworks that speak about the issue as well as what’s seen on TV, in movies and in magazines can be a catalyst for change.
Visual media can make a great impact by influencing young people and creating an effective form of domestic-violence prevention.
My way of contributing is with my Voices project. My personal experience witnessing abuse influenced me to create a video installation that allows the public to see and hear from these women directly. The project started with the help of a grant from Baang & Burne Contemporary and a number of domestic-violence organizations across the country. Twenty small monitors with the lips of domestic-violence survivors speak of their personal experience with abuse.
Together, the multiple voices create a symphony of unrecognizable words. Only when viewers get close to a screen do they become aware of the individual subject’s story. The necessity of this movement on the part of viewers functions as a call to action: As a society, we must not allow the epidemic of domestic violence and those who are affected by it to remain invisible.
Voices can be seen at MoCA North Miami through April 19, as part of Meta-Gallery, curated by Andrew Horton. It will continue to travel across the country. As part of the exhibit, there will be a panel discussion at 4 p.m. April 18 at MoCA, 770 NE 125th St.
Bonnie Berman, co-host of Topical Currents on WLRN, will moderate the panel, which includes Adrienne Von Lates of MoCA, victim’s advocate Lissette Garzon-Pacateque and anti-violence advocate Shedia Nelson. By finding new ways to address domestic violence, we can get to the root of the issue and end the cycle. Join us on Saturday and be part of the conversation.
Cat Del Buono, Miami