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‘Don’t Judge Me’: The Broxtowe Women’s Project and National Justice Museum’s Striking New Exhibition

Eleanor Flowerday
Mon 29 Nov, 2021

How do we identify those who suffer domestic abuse? A victim, a survivor, a statistic?

The new ‘Don’t Judge Me’ exhibition at the National Justice Museum put together by the Broxtowe Women’s Project combines poetry, photography and art to create a powerful experience – loud with the voices of women who want to be seen beyond their abuse.

Beyond the universal trauma and suffering experiences since 2020, the Pandemic has had a particular effect of spotlighting glaring inequalities that many people had previously chosen to ignore. A wave of misogyny that seems to constantly be washing in on news headlines and social media feeds has forced an awareness of violence towards women. It feels inescapable – from the statistics relating football matches to domestic violence during the World Cup, to Lockdown literally locking women in their homes with their abusers. Then there’s the shattering of the illusion of safety offered by the Police following the murder of Sarah Everard and the punishment of women for wanting to visit a friend at night such as in the case of the murder of Sabina Nessa. Not to mention the growing threat of incels. Times haven’t changed, it’s just that we now can’t look away.

‘Don’t Judge Me’ is an exhibition of few, but powerful, objects and words. In a small room tucked away in an old prison, the exhibition balances both an anxiety and defiance towards female victimhood. It was put together by women who had been victims of domestic abuse, with an intention to provide the space for them to explore their own experiences in a raw and unsilenced way. It has a focus on the way many survivors have been stigmatised, in addition to raising awareness of domestic abuse.

Sarah Hartshorne, Vice Chair of the Broxtowe Women’s Project board of trustees highlights the exhibition’s unique value in “giving women a direct voice which hasn’t been filtered to explore their own experiences, and supporting them to tap into their creativity both personally and in this artist facilitated way as part of a longer-term supportive journey.”

Through poetry, installation pieces and photography, ‘Don’t Judge Me’ holds up art and literature as a powerful force for unpicking and understanding personal trauma, making powerful the voices that had been made to feel powerless by their abusers, and demonstrating that acute, yet universal anxiety towards misogynistic violence felt so widely since the first lockdown. Yet, after leaving the exhibition you feel that anxiety and fear is not what you’re supposed to feel. ‘Don’t Judge Me’ seeks to use art and words to rebuild identities, to empower, and to stand against violence and fear.

You can visit the exhibition at the National Justice Museum until January 2022. Visit the National Justice Museum website for more information about your visit, and the Broxtowe Women’s Project website to find out more about the exhibition and their other amazing projects. The exhibition is free to attend, don’t miss out!

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