Evie is a survivor of domestic violence was unable to find secure housing as a single woman with a young son found herself ‘couch surfing’ with family and friends trying to find compassion without wearing out her welcome. Even with employment, it was still difficult to find a home for herself and her son. Sadly, the only way she could have secure housing was if the ex-partner cosigned the lease. Today she works closely with migrant women who have experienced trauma and conducts extensive academic research on this important topic. In 2016, Evie became Local Woman of the Year, finding support and encouragement from Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW.
The image holds many meaning relating to Evie’s experiences. The necklace she is wearing belonged to her grandmother who chose suicide in 2018 by jumping in front of a train rather than remaining in a DV marriage. Each of the tattoos have very specific meanings in Evie’s life. The sunflower is about light, and how sunflowers turn to each other when there is no light.
In addition, Evie writes poetry to share her experiences with a wider audience. She shares just a few with you below:
I wonder nan if you were scared,
When he threw that plate and it hit your head.
I wonder how many times it happened before,
I wonder how you became brave enough to walk out the door.
I wonder Grandie if you knew how this would end,
I know the battle you had was unbearable in your head.
His voices and taunts made you lose who you were,
And for this kind of abuse there really is no cure.
I wonder my sister how you stayed so long,
So much injustice and so much done wrong.
I hated the way he treated you.
I know you thought we didn’t have a clue.
I wonder why I felt loved by him,
When control and power were his demise.
I wonder why he won’t let me go,
I wonder if freedom is something I’ll ever know.
The stories of the women behind me carry heavy on my shoulders.
They are more real to me as I get older.
I wonder how many more generations will endure the same fate.
Until we can trust that someone will keep us safe.
See, I’ve done all I can, but I cannot do it all alone.
There’s unjust systems, and manipulation, and broken bones.
I need you to stand with me and keep me safe.
I need you to help us end this madness, for my son’s sake.
I wonder when you will choose to come sit with me,
To connect with this darkness and heaviness, and to face this truth.
It doesn’t take much: it begins with listening and openness,
A path of freedom paved towards a glorious future free from his mess.
It takes one to raise us.
It takes one to empower us to stand on our own two feet again.
It takes one to find recovery, to begin to hope again, to believe things can be different.
The village is a space.
Most importantly, a safe space.
You are safe here to have space.
Space to think.
Space to be. Unveiled. Mask away. Just be. Whatever it is you need to.
Space to lament. To grieve.
Space to laugh. To smile.
Space to believe again. To hope again.
And space to find yourself somehow.
The village is a gift to me.
A gift of myself back.
A gift of seeing goodness again in the world.
A gift of recognising my own strength.
A gift of acceptance.
A gift of discovering my own worth.
A gift of life.
The village is what holds us when the pieces are fragmented and we can no longer hold them ourselves.
The glass shatters and the shards cut us.
The village removes the shards, and heals the cuts.
And the village walks alongside us until the pain passes.
The village is a gift.
An invitation to a better life.
An invitation to recovery.
An invitation to a different way.
An invitation to wellness, wholeness, safety and freedom.
An invitation to just be. To be me in whatever state, in every season and in every way I need to be.
I’m so thankful I am part of this village.
I’m proud of every moment that I spoke instead of shoving it down.
My shameful moments of rebellion are brilliant banners on my castle walls.
I’m proud of who I am, of who I have become.
I am remarkably strong. I can rebuild.
I am intelligent. I have so much to give that makes this world a better place.
If it had to all fall apart for me to discover me, I’d do it again, all of it.
Justice is the only way the world is made right.
I still believe it. I always will.
Finding me is standing on my own two feet.
Knowing my worth, knowing my strength.
Claiming and owning my body as beautiful, as mine.
Authenticity makes me shine.
I am proud of my style.
I am reclaiming my body as mine.
My tattoos tell the stories – metamorphosis, courage, crazy brave, nevertheless she persisted.
I am finding my freedom.
Freedom from guilt, from rules, from judgement, from religion.
I am most proud that I walked away, despite being terrified every step.
I am most proud that I told you through my actions that I deserve more than your mistreatment.
I am proud that I stood up to you, and that I continue to do so every day as I dance out here in freedom.
What a beautiful dance it is.