At the start of my first year of graduate school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, I set out to visually represent the emotional abuse, turmoil and distress in the relationships of literary characters. Specifically, the stories of Constance Chatterley from Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, Edna Pontellier from The Awaking by Kate Chopin, and Anna Karenina from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Using the words and experiences of these novels provided me a way to articulate my own history of a mentally abusive relationship. The key motivation of working with this subject was that I wanted to bring attention to the significance that emotional and psychological abuse is often not easily recognizable. To me it seems as though there’s often a false façade hiding and shielding the reality of the relationship and that there are different ways in which this manifest. My hope with this work is to spark a dialogue about how even though there are similarities between each protagonist; each handled their experience differently. While working through the different approaches to creating artworks that symbolized the experiences of these women in literature; I began to selectively shared my own experiences. As I began to share this information in several one on one conversations, each person began to open up and share his or her own personal experiences. The more people I talked with, the more I realized just how common this unseen abuse is. I always had some understanding of how vast the amount of people are that have this shared experience but I never realized truly to what extent. And even though each person I talked with could relate to the core issue, each person’s story was unique to themselves. Some shared that the span of abuse last 10 years before they left. Others opened up about how they sought out counseling and mended their relationship.
This project’s goal is to shed light upon the typically unseen side of abusive relationships, the mental and emotional. My aim is to show the common threads between stories but also emphasize the ubiquity of these stories. Abuse is not limited by age, gender or ethnicity.
What I'm Requesting I'm looking for individuals that are willing to anonymously share their experiences with emotional and psychological abusive relationships. In a packet that I send, I will included a piece of handmade paper, that I have made, and using a writing utensil of your choice, write your personal story. The format of how and what you write about is completely up to you. Feel free to share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Now, I know that sometimes a completely open format can be more daunting than freeing, so here is just a few example of a structure you could potential use. You are not limited to the list provided, these are just for assistance and reference. I want you to write in your own style and manner. Even though these are completely confidential, allow your personality to show through.
Write in third person like a biography
All participants’ identities will be kept confidential. So, I also ask that when writing; please refrain from using specific names or places as to protect the identities of others as well.
To Participate For anyone interested in contributing to this project, please send me a message with only your name and address (either through my website message center or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org). Once I receive your address, I will send you a packet of materials that includes: the information packet, a sheet of handmade paper and pre-stamped return envelope.
I'm also asking that even if you have not personally had an experience with an emotional/psychological abusive relationship, to please spread the word about this project.
Deadline With this project being an integral part of my thesis exhibition, I ask that all submissions be mailed by Friday, March 17*.
*The first installment of this project has been exhibited, but there is a continual call for entry for additional participants for future projects. Thank you