Abuse survivors become supersheroes to empower other women
In January 2016, the World Health Organization reported that 1 in 3 women – all across the globe – have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence over the course of their lives. Often, their stories are hidden in the darkness, behind locked doors, away from the eyes of the masses.
Lithuanian grassroots movement Women Speak aims to uncover these veiled narratives with a new project called #supersheroes. “This idea was born after we presented our previous project #manyofus at a conference. While talking about this video, we realized that we can’t leave the violence against women topic behind just yet,” the five women who created Women Speak tell HelloGiggles. “Instead of talking about women as victims, we wanted to portray them as #supersheroes. Our movement wanted to empower women who were brave enough to exit violent relationships.”
With this pivotal concept in mind, Women Speak traveled to the Vilnius Crisis Centre: a safe haven for women (and their children) who leave abusive partners. They spent 2-3 months there, getting to know these women and collaborating on the project that would ultimately shine a warm light on their liberation from abuse. Women Speak tells us, “At first, these women wanted to wear masks during the shoot with photographer Neringa Rekasiute, but they all realized they wanted to be without them. It was such wonderful moment. They strongly stand behind their messages!”
Overall, #supersheroes is working to open communication between the women who have left abusive relationships and those who are still amidst them. With the hashtags #supersheroes and #supershero, Women Speak is encouraging women across the globe to share their domestic violence stories, to show their strength, to show other soon-to-be-survivors that they have the power to overcome these obstacles.
The resulting images are the definition of strength:
Viktorija: “The first time your partner is abusive, speak up and tell your family and friends. A woman is not an object, she does not have to rely on other people’s opinions about her. She can say no to the abuse by refusing to be a victim.”
Elena: “You will get your confidence back when you exit an abusive relationship. A lot of women come to a crisis centre having suffered physical abuse. But there is psychological abuse too. And sometimes it’s even worse, because it is harder to deal with the invisible consequences of it.”
Kristina: “The longer you live in an abusive environment, the harder it is to get out. But it is never too late to leave, even if you have 5 children.”
Edita: “You should never accept humiliation or suffer violence. There is a different life out there – brighter, more beautiful, full of hope. We are stronger than men. I truly believe that in every cloud there is a silver lining and there’s always a solution to every problem.”
Zita: “There are women who spend their entire lives in violent relationships: they blame others, they whine, they victimise themselves. Take action! Sometimes you bounce highest when you hit rock bottom.”
For sexual assault support, you can call 1-800-656-HOPE. If you’re dealing with domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at: 1−800−799−7233. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network also has an entire page devoted to resources.