AFTER THE RUPTURE: Art as Soul Repair (iv). I Am Anonymous

I AM ANONYMOUS : Mary Louise.

Mary Louise’s heartfelt book discussed in the journal article After The Rupture, repurposes a poem and artworks she originally created to describe the pain and consequences of multiple episodes of abuse. Her poem, I am Anonymous, appears as fragments; words are placed over digital images of some of the many, many paintings and drawings she created to work through her physical and emotional pain, her grief, sense of shame and powerlessness. Now these words and images speak to her experiences of not being heard, of feeling inconsequential, of being left to deal with her trauma on her own After the Rupture.

During an informal discussion at the start of the Forgotten People project, Mary Louise spoke of her particular experiences withSECASA and MonashHealth – before and after the ‘rupture’. She spoke passionately about what she hoped for the project and what she would like SECASA and Monash to understand through her artwork and the project.

How did your relationship with SECASA end?

Well I was told that I would only be seen monthly. I was told that I have been at SECASA for quite some time and they couldn’t continue to see me.  And it just ended when I needed them most – because I was going through the beginning of a police investigation and they just said “No, sorry, we can’t help you with that”. I was told that I could navigate these things myself.

On the closing of files :

It was important that we had this place where we could trust our counsellor to help us resolve these issues that we are facing. I had court, I had childhood trauma – trauma that I had to work through. 40 years in the making. A decision that needed to be made and I needed someone to support me through it in order to keep me going. I was falling apart, I had post-traumatic stress. SECASA, run by the old manager, was very supportive; and all of a sudden when management changed I had the sense that this place was no longer the environment that is helping me any more.

On what could be learned from your particular experience:

MonashHealth are very aware of survivor stories. They are dealing with them all the time. Roughly one in five people are survivors. They have heard story after story. People have been put in the emergency, mental health units, rehab services, and they know. They know. And nobody is changing any policies.

I mean you (Monash) must be listening to the news. You must be hearing something out there. You must have a friend, or somebody you know, somebody else who has gone through this to know that it’s an ongoing thing to deal with. You must know that the system is not adequate. At least 200 people in the social services must have heard me speak at SECASA’s 40th anniversary because I spoke up about what I had gone through – childhood sexual abuse. And we have put on an exhibition and we have told you how it feels to our best ability. 

What do you think SECASA’s role is in walking alongside you or guiding you? After you have been doing that alone for 40 years you were saying – what do you think their role is?

It felt like a breath of fresh air – that they came in and supported us and cared for us. That role of counsellor is automatically beneficial. It’s the time and the care… to know that people have put something aside for you, a sexual assault centre where you can go. At first it is very hard to feel comfortable there because somebody who has been abused is full of fear. We have a lot of anxiety and a lot of nervous energy. We need somebody to listen to us, to feel comfortable with, and that is what you won’t get from society. You used to get it from a specialist group like SECASA. 

You need to get feelings out of your system and to know that you have a regular time with them to move through these things.  As I went along the journey with the counsellor, I became freer and freer as a person and I started opening up without imploding on myself. And once I started that I began feeling a bit of comfort. And it brought me peace having somebody else there to support me.

I think that they kept you from sliding backwards from going into psychosis or needing emergency mental health care plan. They kept you on a level playing field where you could discuss your feelings in a safe environment.  Having somebody there who supports you when everybody else deserts you.

What is it that appeals to you about creating an artwork to convey some of those things?

Where words don’t convey, art can convey

On your hopes for this project, with all our different stories coming together:

MaryLouise constructing her book, 2022

I can only hope that somebody does listen. I hope the head honcho does listen. I am sure people see cracks in the network. The counsellors see cracks in the network as well as we do; I think society sees cracks, the families are seeing the cracks, and it is affecting us in so many ways. I hope you wake up that it is a real thing. I hope that you don’t look at these books as ‘just a piece of artwork’. I hope you look at my book, and the others, as something that we have done specifically about this – and you need some insight. You need to have some insight to be able to see that. Hopefully you do. I am obviously expressing that I am losing faith with you guys.

Anne Riggs PhD.   Art for Soothing & Strengthening.

ABSTRACT

This paper is about an arts project, The Forgotten People, undertaken in the first half of  2022 with a group of former and current clients and staff of a Melbourne sexual assault service which underwent an aggressive structural and cultural change that had profound negative effects on both. 

Whilst the service, and its parent, a major Melbourne public hospital, refused to engage in any form of respectful conversation addressing the pain their Carelessness was causing, a creative community formed to express their feelings in art.  Our aim was to create together, to initiate ‘soul repair’, to communicate with the health providers, and for the project to be of service in other organisations where client needs can easily be overlooked. 

It is a paper about the transformation of those involved from feeling isolated and intimidated by their experiences with the service and hospital, to feeling part of a collective of people doing something positive and uplifting as an act of Care.

You can read and download the full paper here : AFTER THE RUPTURE

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2 thoughts on “AFTER THE RUPTURE: Art as Soul Repair (iv). I Am Anonymous

  1. Art is an expression of emotion buried deep in the soul and screams for an avenue to be released
    May journey find the release and love you deserve

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