October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to speak out against violence and support victims. These 6 artists are boosting the signal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 35% of women worldwide have been physically and/or sexually assaulted in their lifetime; 30% of women have experienced violence by an intimate partner. Domestic violence doesn’t just affect women, though. One in four men in the United States have been physically abused, with one in seven experiencing severe abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence should be eradicated, but it continues to occur in every country around the world. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to speak out against this societal problem and show support for victims, and a great device for doing so is art. Here are six artists raising awareness of domestic violence and working to combat it with creative endeavors.
1. “Promise” by Rapman
British musician Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu) was inspired by a friend who escaped an abusive relationship when he wrote the song “Promise.” The poetic track recalls a young couple’s courtship and how the man appeared to be perfect. That is, until the woman became pregnant and he got abusive, aggressive and jealous. When she leaves the relationship, he’s apologizing and begging for her to return to him, promising it will never happen again. His promises prove false, and the behavior escalates to the point that he kills her in a violent rage. Partnering with Comic Relief, Rapman released the song for Red Nose Day to raise awareness of the thousands of women in the United Kingdom who experience domestic violence. “I want someone who is in that situation to realize they could end up dead or lose their child,” he said, adding that he wants people who watch the video to see the consequences of staying in an abusive relationship and hopes it gives at least one person the strength to leave.
2. AleXsandro Palombo’s Battered Celebrities and Disney Princesses
Contemporary artist and activist AleXsandro Palombo isn’t subtle with his anti–domestic violence message for the “Life Can Be a Fairytale If You Break the Silence” collection of images. He has taken photos of celebrities and iconic cartoon characters and altered them to appear as if they’ve been beaten. His chosen caption for the images of celebrities that include Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristen Stewart and Madonna: “No Woman Is Immune from Domestic Violence.” For the abused cartoon characters, such as Ariel, Snow White, Marge Simpson and Wilma Flintstone, he shows his lack of love for their abusers by having them hold a photo of them with “coward” stamped across it in red.
Palombo uses his work to send powerful messages to the world with the goal of raising awareness of important issues like domestic violence. But he never provides an explanation for his work, instead choosing to let people have their own thoughts and reactions.
3. Evguenia Zakhar’s Tattoos for Domestic Violence Survivors
When one artist can inspire another to do something great with their talents, it’s a wonderful thing. That’s what happened with Russian tattoo artist Evgeunia Zakhar. She heard about Brazilian tattoo artist Flavia Carvalho’s work covering up scars of abused women for free and decided to do so herself in Russia. Since August 2016, 33-year-old Zakhar, who’s worked as a tattoo artist for 10 years, has offered her services at no charge through the Russian social network VKontakte. In the first week, she had over 50 requests. Within six months, more than 200 women had made their way to her basement studio in Ufa, the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Zakhar has covered bullet wounds with flowers, placed vines over torture marks, and used butterflies to mask stab scars.
By tattooing victims of domestic violence, Zakhar is helping them while also leaving her “mark on the world.” “The majority of my clients are younger than I am, and when I am gone, they will continue to bear my tattoos, which remind them that a new start is possible,” she explained to Le Courrier de Russie. Zakhar hopes to expand her work in the future by traveling to other regions to help abused women, while encouraging tattoo artists in Russia and abroad to do the same in their communities.
4. Rand Jarallah and the Power of Makeup
If you ever speak to a woman who’s been abused, she’ll likely tell you how makeup became an imperative part of her life — to cover the aftermath. Palestinian activist Rand Jarallah, the founder of social platform Randistic and fellow at the United Nations Population Fund, uses makeup as a tool to raise awareness of social justice issues, viewing violence against women as a human rights violation. With makeup, Jarallah creates powerful, disturbing images of herself as a victim of abuse. A bruise over her eye, blood dripping from her nose, a busted lip — it was manufactured by Jarallah for UNPH’s Reversing the Trend campaign, yet it’s all too real to a victim of domestic violence and an image you can’t soon forget.
5. Zeke Thomas’ “Dealin’ with It”
Anti-domestic-violence campaigns normally focus on the effects of assaults on women. DJ Zeke Thomas, the openly gay son of NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, aims to change that with his single “Dealin’ with It.” The song addresses his experience with sexual assault and the difficulties a victim encounters, as well as the work involved in recovery. “The message that I have for other survivors and allies is that you can and you will overcome it. It will take work,” Thomas told GLAAD. “But I believe your stories and I believe in you. I understand you and you are loved. I want you to know there are many resources at your fingertips to tap into and there is no shame in asking for help. I asked for help and it saved me.” By sharing his story, Thomas hopes it will encourage positive change and “make noise” on the issue of sexual assault against men.
6. Carmel Anderson’s Unheard Voices, Unheard Wisdom
Carmel Anderson uses fabric to raise awareness and start dialogues about domestic violence and sexual assault. With her traveling exhibit Unheard Voices, Unheard Wisdom, the Alaskan shares her “sense of purpose: to inspire others to face, discuss, heal, and change the reality of domestic violence, and be a catalyst for social change.” In a state where 50 of every 100 women have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both, according to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, Anderson’s work is bound to make a dramatic impact at home, but its message can be felt globally too. Unheard Voices, Unheard Wisdom features “eloquently created life-sized mixed-medium sculptures that present a challenging social problem with understated yet thought-provoking beauty.” Through the transformative power of art, Anderson invites viewers of her work to bring their own life experiences and perceptions to it in order to achieve a personal interaction.
If you are experiencing domestic violence or questioning unhealthy aspects of your relationship, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).