Stories in Cloth: Silvia

Silvia fled her home after an attack on her village by paramilitary forces in Colombia. She joined a Common Threads Project group with other women in the refugee settlement. Silvia created a story cloth that revealed what troubled her most about her circumstances. Though her family faced constant violence from outside political violence, it was domestic violence that posed the greatest threat to her personally.

Most prominent in Silvia’s story cloth is the image of her children under attack on the river. But if you look closer, you notice a man holding a bottle in the foreground. This is her husband, too drunk to help when she calls out to him. In the women’s circle, she felt safe to disclose his violent rages, and acknowledge the fear she lived with everyday. With the support of the circle and its facilitators, Silvia found the strength to leave this relationship, report the violence to authorities, and begin to rebuild her life. A year later she participated in an exhibition of the group’s work and spoke out as part of the global “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.” This exhibition later traveled to Geneva where it challenged UN representatives to take global action to end SGBV.

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