Artist paints relief

Domestic violence is not a pretty subject. Most people wish to not think about such issues. Abuse is not partial to gender, race, age, economic, educational or social level; it does however transcend generations and has a tremendous cost to society.

As part of the “Rape is a Crime. Always” public information campaign concerning sexual violence prevention, the Florida Department of Health in conjunction with the FAMU Victim Advocate Program, the National Council of Negro Women and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. will sponsor an art exhibit of nine paintings that dramatize the emotional phases a woman endures when in and coming out of an abusive relationship.

The exhibit, entitled “The Sexual and Domestic Violence Series,” opens today, with a public reception with artist MeloD at 6 p.m. with MeloD’s presentation at 7 p.m. in the grand ballroom in the Student Union building.

MeloD is a survivor of domestic violence and it is her hope that each person who views her paintings tries to feel what the victim feels.

“I set out to transform a painful memory onto canvas,” MeloD said. “I started with a blank canvas and I had no idea exactly what I was going to paint.

The paintings portray the fear, shame, depletion of morals, values and self worth, as well as guilt, innocence and evil. MeloD shows how a person can journey into survival and victoryhood. She said the depiction’s purpose is to communicate truth.

Advocates, counselors, therapists, doctors and educators use “The Sexual and Domestic Violence Series” as a way to educate and create awareness.

“This event will assist students to realize that certain social issues also plague them,” said Natasha O. Clayton, a victim advocate for the Center for Human Development. “We encourage students to come to this event and learn how to possibly get help,” Clayton said.

The paintings offer insight as to what it feels like to live through a violent relationship and to have survived.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by domestic violence,” said Jaime David, a senior secondary education student at Florida State University. “This will be a way for young adults to see firsthand how people deal with such a shameful issue.”

Domestic violence is not always so easily detected. Both the victim and the abuser may not recognize it for what it is. According to the National Women’s Study, eight out of every 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. The victim can most often identify the offender as a classmate, friend, ex-boyfriend or acquaintance.

“Abuse is not just physical,” MeloD said. “Yes, a husband can rape his wife. Rape isn’t always about the stranger in the dark alley.”

The paintings validate the feelings of those who have known abuse and MeloD hopes that people will recognize a part of themselves in the paintings and then reach out for help.

“It is my hope that these paintings will show you how it feels to live in fear of someone who supposedly loves you,” she said. “They will show you how to go from victimhood into victoryhood.”