To  mark their 30th anniversary, the Women’s Centre for Change (WCC) in Penang recently launched the My Story, My Strength: Doodle for Change, a project to document personal stories of survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse from all over Malaysia and translate them into works of art – specifically doodle art.

By encouraging survivors to share their untold stories of violence and then illustrating these stories through art, WCC hopes to enable survivors to break their silence and start to heal.

“Many survivors of violence blame themselves for the violence and feel that they have no right to a voice. Often, it takes many years and tremendous courage for survivors to come forward and break their silence. Encouraging survivors to share their stories is the first step in the healing process. From the demand for counselling (at WCC) and though our other story-sharing project The Women’s Stories Project, women who have shared their stories have been positive about how it has helped them deal with their past experiences.

“We are firm believers that silence only perpetuates more violence. Victims should be encouraged to tell their stories. This is definitely a big part of why we are doing this project, to let women know that their story is their strength,” explains WCC’s coordinator for this project Lor Yew Mien, .

There are two parts to the Doodle for Change project: in the first part, WCC will compile personal stories of survivors from all over Malaysia. Survivors are invited to send in their stories or, if they prefer, they can also call WCC and relate their stories to someone. From the stories collected, ten will be transformed into doodle illustrations by established Malaysian artists and art pieces will be featured at Penang’s famed Georgetown Festival.

“Based on WCC’s work on domestic violence and sexual abuse for the last 30 years, we know that women of different class, ethnicity, religion, nationality and sexuality can experience domestic or sexual violence. We will select 10 stories to reflect the diverse backgrounds of survivors of violence. It is important to show that gender violence doesn’t just happen to a particular community or women of certain background. It can happen to any woman,” explains Lor.

The other submissions, she explains, will be kept in WCC’s archives as part of their continuous documentation on violence against women.

In the second part of the project, WCC is inviting members of the public to send in their doodle art depicting stories of violence (including bullying and harassment). The stories can either be personal stories or those about people they know.

“Many of us know someone who has experienced abuse or is going through abuse. If you like to doodle or are good at it, send us a piece of art about an incidence of violence you have heard about or experienced,” says Lor.

By highlighting these illustrated stories, WCC hopes to challenge and change attitudes and misconceptions about abuse – a person does not become an abuse victim because there is something wrong with them. The more people are aware of this, the more we can help those who are experiencing abuse and prevent violence from happening in the first place.

Malaysian radio and television personality Sarimah Ibrahim has been chosen as WCC’s Ambassador for the My Story, My Strength: Doodle for Change project.

At the launch of the project in Kuala Lumpur last week, Sarimah said, “In a society that is generally scared to speak up, these doodles can help get the message across. Art makes the messages less scary. Art has been used for years as a form of therapy, so we can use it for victims to voice out against violence.”

Also present at the launch were Ong Jo-Lene (who will curate the doodle art show at the Georgetown Festival) and visual artists Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Minstrel Kuik, Dr Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi, Annabelle Ng, Chuah Shu Ruei, Tan Kong Yoke, Azliza Ayob and Engku Iman who will translate the stories into doodle art.


 

The deadline for submission of stories is May 15 while the deadline for submission of doodle art is June 20.

Submissions can be emailed to kisahku@wccpenang.org. For more information, call WCC at 04-228 0342 or go to www.facebook.com/wccpenang.