Silent Tears fall at the moment when we feel the most alone and the most lost, it is also a turning point, to look for hope and strength. The intent of the work is create hope unity and strength for women with disability who have experienced violence. The complexities of the issues surrounding women with disability and violence cannot be resolved until the reasons surrounding the violence are heard, and this can only be told by those who experience it.
The project ‘Silent Tears’ is developed in collaboration with the participants who are women with disabilities who have experienced violence or women who have acquired their disability as a direct result of violence. All of these women have the opportunity to reveal the long term impact, and circumstances, of the violence that they have experience and how this has affected their lives. They represent a range of experiences and cultures providing an important and respectful narrative and validation of their experience, while also reaching out to other survivors and the wider community. The exhibition provides a focal point for discussion, education and awareness raising – providing the impetus for social change.
The Australian component of the exhibition will be first be showcased in Australia at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in August 2015. The Vice Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with disability, Diane Kingston, has invited us to represent the universality of the violence against women and expand the exhibition to include women from other countries, with the support of an international disability organisation (CBM). The UN intends to exhibit the works in Geneva in May 2016.
The definition of violence against women for the project is defined by Carolyn Frohmader, CEO of Women with Disabilities Australia as ‘Violence against women with disabilities includes physical, sexual, and emotional violence and abuse as well as institutional violence, chemical restraint, drug use, forced or coerced sterilisations, forced contraception, forced or coerced psychiatric interventions, medical exploitation, violations of privacy, humiliation and harassment. In addition to physical, mental and sexual violence and abuse. Women with disabilities face unnecessary institutionalisation, denial of control over their bodies, lack of financial control, denial of social contact, employment and community participation.’