So the gorgeous folk at kikki.K asked me to share a little bit about how and why I started her words: what inspires me, dreams for the future, and all those lovely things.
And as I’m in the business of storytelling, I guess I should start by telling you my story. And I’ll pre-warn you now that it’s not all roses and sunshine – although there’s been plenty of heart-warming, goosebump-inducing, skin-tickling, life-changing moments. But there’s been a lot of icky, scary, confusing moments too. And if there’s a ‘silver lining’, it’s that I’ve definitely grown and learnt the most from those.
I’ll begin at the beginning – well, I’ll begin in the year 2010. I was 21 and about to begin the final year of my Bachelor’s degree in Melbourne. It was a beautiful, warm, summer’s night. Apart from a bunch of pesky mosquitoes who seem to follow me wherever I go, I was having a pretty great time. I was at a party with some friends and we were dancing, laughing, enjoying ourselves. You know, the usual.
But that night, after the party had ended (literally and metaphorically) I was sexually assaulted. The perpetrator was a friend of a friend, and it happened in a supposedly safe space – in my own home. And from that moment, everything changed. And while I didn’t know it at the time, my experience, while unique to me, is incredibly common. And yet I had never heard anyone talk about it.
Studies show one in five women have experienced sexual violence in Australia. I’d actually bet that it’s more than that. And yet, while most sexual violence is carried out by someone known to the victim, in a supposedly safe space, the only stories of sexual assault I had heard or read about were brutal attacks by strangers down alleyways. So I found myself asking some pretty big questions: did mine even qualify? Was my experience worthy? Did it even matter? And if it didn’t, why did I feel so lost?
While those closest to me knew what had happened, I didn’t speak publicly about it for a very long time. I had to work through a hell of a lot of internalised victim-blaming, and I’ll take this opportunity to mention that I got some amazing counselling from the people at CASA (if you’re reading this and you need to speak to someone, please reach out to them or to one of the many support services available – you’re not alone).
But what had a profound effect on me, and helped me to understand my experience better, and feel validated, was talking to other women. Talking to women and after sharing my story, having them say, ‘I’m a survivor too’. And that’s where her words began.
We started her words because we felt the power of those ‘me too’ moments. One of our producers Emma Roberts and I spoke about finding these ‘me too’ moments long before #metoo (which was started by the incredible Tarana Burke – go look her up if you haven’t yet) took off in mainstream media and we wanted to create space to talk about women’s experiences (whether related to sexual assault or not) and help women to feel that power and that validation too.
Because the thing is, for women and people from marginalised communities, we have to prove that our experiences, whether that be sexual assault, racism, miscarriage, feeling unsafe at night, struggles with self-love and more, are valid. We have to prove that we’re not ‘hysterical’ or liars. We have to prove that we deserve a seat at the table. And that can be damn exhausting. Like, really exhausting.
So, her words exists to help eliminate the fatigue that comes from simply existing in this world as women.
If this platform can help one woman feel less alone, then it’s done its job. Educating others on the realities of gender inequality and sexism is the shiny cherry on top. All it takes is one person to open up. And I feel incredibly grateful that we have the privilege of speaking to so many amazing women.
I’ve always dreamt about telling the kind of stories that deeply connect with people – whether that’s writing a novel or directing films – because that’s what I love to consume. And in her words I’m lucky to combine my passions of film and storytelling, with my beliefs and values as a human being, while also working with, and supporting, women.
Along the way I’ve learnt that everyone has a story. And everyone, whether in tiny or big ways, can do something to make this world a better place. It’s our job as humans to be better and do better. I’m not perfect but I’m learning and growing every day.
What’s next for us? We’re focusing on telling more stories and giving a platform to more voices. We’re exploring how to serve our community better – and how to create a database of women’s stories from across Australia. We’d like to take her words on the road and capture stories from all over the country.
We’re hosting our International Women’s Day event on Friday 8th March (which also happens to be our two year anniversary!) – with a bloody stellar line up of women on the panel (get your ticket here!). And we’re looking for collaborators and partners so we can do more and do better (if you’re interested, say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org).
No woman should feel her story or experience isn’t important or valid, or that her existence isn’t worthy of respect and belonging. So we’re on a mission to make sure every woman knows her words matter.
And in doing so, I hope you know that your words matter, and I hope you’ll join us on this mission.
Thanks for reading,
We are so inspired by Domini and are thrilled to have her part of our There She Is campaign. Find out more about the campaign and our new collection here.