The smile is a mask
(Trigger Warning. Contains images of violence)
She holds up a sign up ‘’Help me. I don’t know if I will get to see tomorrow.'(Styles, 2013). This is but one face of the many victims around the world, many suffering in silence, abused by their domestic partner. It was the worst year of her life documented in selfies.
In a world where it seems important to document one’s life on social media it is often hard to realise how prolific domestic abuse is when everyone only shows the happiest parts of their life. Yet in Australia alone, over 300,000 women experience physical violence (Our Watch) every year. While this issue isn’t new to anyone, with the significant rise of ‘Feminism’ it has certainly been brought back into the lime light. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any dramatic changes in the way in which victims are being treated.
Meagan Tyler pointed out in her article, No, Feminism is not a choice, ‘Feminism has resulted in in a perverse kind of victim-blaming. Blame yourself, you obviously made the wrong choice (2015). This rhetoric has been utilised as a way of silencing victims over and over, ‘if they’re that bad why don’t you just leave?’.
As much as I agree with Tyler on her feelings towards feminism, I also believe that the resurgence of feminism is allowing those who have always attempted to speak up all along they have now had their voices amplified 10-fold. Victims are speaking out, showcasing the realities of abuse on their Instagram, Twitter accounts, even their Facebook pages. Rosie Batty, a mother who lost her own child at the hands of her abuser in 2014, has given victims a public voice demanding that the leaders of our country stand up and do something about it. Her website, http://www.neveralone.com.au/, gives victims a place to go to seek help, but also allows access to information about the variety and complexity of abuse.
In the video above, a Serbian woman documented a year in her life by taking a selfie every day. Her face smiles at the camera, she seems full of life and happy. As the video continues we see this smile fade, and at the end it is covered in blood and bruises as she holds a sign begging for help.
These snippets of life as a victim confront the viewers demanding interaction, demanding something be done. They beg for change. A series of posted selfies have opened up possibility of dialogue for people to talk about their own experiences and with it a new hope for change.
Styles, R 2013, Harrowing video montage ‘documents Serbian woman’s year of domestic violence’ but could it be a fake to promote awareness of attacks on women?, Daily Mails Australia, 23 March, viewed 11 March 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2297625/Harrowing-video-montage-documents-Serbian-womans-year-domestic-violence.html
Tyler, M 2015, No, Feminism is not a choice, The Conversation, 30 April, viewed 11 March 2017,http://theconversation.com/no-feminism-is-not-about-choice-40896