October is Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM). The theme for SVAM 2022 was Help, Hope, Change.

QSAN services (including BRISSC) held workshops across Queensland with victim-survivors in August 2022 and their responses to three questions would form the basis of a QSAN social media campaign for sexual violence awareness month.

What helped you through your experience of sexual violence?

The answers are a message to our community about what support victim-survivors need from our community and particularly when responding to disclosures about sexual violence.

“Being regarded with dignity and equality (not pitied or diminished) when telling my story.”

“Not being forced to do anything: report, go to police, therapy etc until I was ready.”

“Tea in the sun, listening to sounds.”

“Having a creative outlet – gaming, plants, a self-care sensory box.”

“New clothes. Changing my environment, such as my bedroom.”

“Getting my driver’s licence.”

“Having control – powerful for healing.”

“Having an opportunity for social action, support groups, having a voice.

Anonymous survivor voices from throughout Queensland

The answers are a message to our community about what support victim-survivors need from our community and particularly when responding to disclosures about sexual violence.

Many participants advised it was their pets, their children that got them through, but many spoke about the need for acceptance, consideration, attention, belief, awareness, time, space, and safety. For some obtaining accountability contributed to their healing.

“The one thing that helped me was having others my age to talk to as there was a girl’s group that was held in Brisbane weekly and at the end of the group which went about 12 weeks, we went on a girls group camp for the weekend and was able to start healing and to start trusting again.”


Younger victim-survivors also participated in some of the workshops. This victim-survivor spoke of the importance of connecting with other young women to help her make sense of what happened to her.

Connecting with the right organisation to understand what’s going on inside of me. To understand the emotional impact as part of sexual assault and domestic violence. The worker gave me strategies and pathways for more support. Connected me with other right professionals to help make me understand my own strength and resilience. When you understand and know yourself it helps a lot. But healing may take many years because lot of mental, emotional pain due to violence.
Anonymous woman from a CALD background.

Many victim-survivors advised that connecting with a specialist sexual violence service was a key to helping them make sense of what happened and normalising their reactions to the violence and abuse that had been perpetrated against them. Victim-survivors believed that these services should be free, be available more frequently than currently existed and should not have wait times.

It’s about getting through the day and having choices, time, and space to heal at my own pace. It’s about meeting yourself where you’re at each day. Sometimes it’s about acknowledging that today all I can manage is having a shower and going back to bed.”
Anonymous woman, Brisbane

Many respondents believed not putting pressure on themselves was important and taking one day at a time.

What is one thing that gives you hope?

A message of strength to other victim-survivors.

“What gives me hope was feeling that I had made it through before, so I could do it again.”

Roxy, 15 yo

The second question was “What is one thing that gives you hope?”, a message of strength to other victim-survivors.

The responses spoke of resilience and endurance, as well as recognition of the struggle of healing. When abuse has stopped, there is still aftermath; the impact it can have on body, mind, and identity. Revisiting memories can feel as real as the violence.

The personal accounts consistently evidenced the strong link between experiencing childhood sexual abuse and further experiences of violence throughout a person’s life. This cycle needs to be broken on a systemic and social level.

“Sometimes it feels like there is no hope. This too is important to validate. It can feel like we are back at the beginning but, we are not that person anymore.”
“Recovery happens in stages.”

Anonymous survivors

Many victim-survivors spoke of the difficulty of finding hope but persevering, nonetheless. Many participants spoke of knowing it takes time and work. So much of the burden should not have been on victim-survivors but, they persisted and found anchors. Healing is not linear, there isn’t a road map or a right or wrong way to work through an experience of sexual violence.

Hope for me came years and years later. Hope for me now is my children, my family and other fighters/survivors. If I can help just one person become a survivor, then that is enough hope for me.
Leanne, 47 years

Many spoke of the importance of discovering they are not alone. There were family (chosen, biological and animal), friends, faith/spirituality and services that made a difference along the way.

Some spoke of the significance of feeling free and safe from the violence. Hope was also seen through victim-survivor’s children and future generations – the life they get to live now.

When I reached out to different kind of services, it helped me to realise people were out there who could support me.
They listened and believed me.
Anonymous survivors

Though under resourced, survivors spoke of the positive impact on their life of working with support services that listened and believed them without judgement. Services and counsellors that were able to offer pathways to explore. Others noted this support provided them opportunity to once again function and to rebuild their whole self.

What is one thing you would like to change?

This is a message to decision-makers and more broadly to our community.

“I would like to be in a culture where women are not isolated and left vulnerable to the power differentials, the self-entitlement of abusers and the constant rhetoric that tries to tell us the unhealthy patriarchy we live in is ‘normal’.”
Alison Pomroy

“I would like to change community cultures so that people feel safe to share their story and receive support, and the community helps rather than perpetuates the problems.”
32-year-old, regular woman, Malanda.

“Parents need more support on how to help their children through sexual abuse.”
“Schools need to be more patient, and trauma informed.”

Child sexual abuse survivors

Victim-survivors, throughout their responses consistently identified the need for a change to systems for victim-survivor’s to be heard and to hear their experience without judgement. This was especially important for this message to be incorporated in responses by schools, health professionals, police, the legal system, and the community in general. The conversation about sexual abuse needs to ‘come out from the shadows’ and community attitudes and beliefs need to change. Victim-survivors understood the important need for advocacy to lead systemic and community change.

Not to feel blamed.
“Don’t ever think it was your fault what happened to you.”

Anonymous survivor

I needed safety. I was very scared and confused.
It is very important to feel understood.
Anonymous survivors

Throughout the responses victim-survivors sought a change to the judgement they endured and had detrimentally impacted up them. Comments such as, “just get over it”, contribute to extreme feelings that can be internalised as shame. Victim-survivor’s stated that they need to be understood, and whilst the physical abuse may have stopped, the psychological impacts continue.

The victim does not get time off, it’s a life sentence. The justice system should have women’s voices heard and to take action from it.
Anonymous survivor

We need a national justice system not state.”
The court process. It’s drawn out and you don’t often know what’s happening or get regular updates which makes things so much harder.
Reporting process is horrible, first few days are hell, you already feel so isolated and alienated – it’s hard to be alone. Outreach or in home support should be available to survivors.”
Anne, Queensland

Attitude of police officers, from the very first contact with victims of sexual violence.
Specialist training for police.
Police being rude and dismissive; needs to change.

Anonymous victim-survivors

Throughout responses, the voices of women consistently spoke about the need for systemic change, review, and reform of the justice system, including it being timelier and more responsive. Many responses about the need for changed police responses including a lack of trauma informed responses and a failure to communicate with victim-survivors were consistent themes. Victim-survivors believed the accountability for the perpetrator, was important and for some it assisted with their healing process.

Provide immediate therapy and help victims. More awareness for long term help. Too many limitations to support – need more counsellors. WE CANNOT WAIT!
Anonymous survivor

The 3 Rs: rural, remote and regional support has always been a rather secondary after thought.
Wahine Toa

A common change theme that emerged was the impassioned plea for more trauma informed services to truly reflect the healing journey of victims-survivors and to ensure specialist services in rural and regional Queensland. Some victim-survivors recognised the importance of financial assistance to support their process of healing.

If you wish to talk to someone about issues of sexual violence, please contact the national sexual violence helpline 1800 Respect 1800 737 732 (24/7) or contact a QSAN service at https://qsan.org.au/services/

QSAN thanks all victim-survivors who generously shared their wisdom and expertise in this campaign and the Queensland Government for their support.

DisconjugatedBy Emma Le Strange(2022) 1920 x 1080p 60fps, digital mixed media.

Truth... lies... they are not joined or are they? Here lies the disconjugation of public comment. Do you believe her or do you distrust her?
Will I be believed or will I be condemned to the level of lies?

Emma is a multidisciplinary artist who draws on life expirience to guide out strong emotions held within the viewers of her art.
Her art practices include drawing, illustration, etching, costumery, singer songwriting, writing, poetry, digital media and animation.

Artwork DescriptionAbout the artistNot for sale.
Home. The tree. Addiction. BloomBy Ali Pike(2022) 39 x 29cm, water colour on paper
and 45.5 x 92cm, mixed media on canvas.

The beginning (home). The tree - from a repressed memory, a letter to my cousin. Addiction - The illusion of control. Bloom - I have always been her, but now I bloom.

Artwork DescriptionFor sale. $30 each.
Kintsugi Self Portrait - Broken is BeautifulBy Ava Grayson(2022) 105 x 85cm, acrylic and oils on canvas.

I have always been creative and drawn or painted all my life. I believe and feel that to create art is magicaland I hope each of my pieces people are able to feel that magic by stepping into another world through that piece. Which is why I sign all my pieces with a dragonfly so everyone can have a little piece of magic. After surviving a crime early in life I focused on work, usually more than one job at a time. So I never had time for letting my creative side out. I realised that this was not feeding my creative side. I feel that my art is immature because of taking me a long time to get here, after working on it full time for 2 years I am excited at how far I have come and am excited to see wjere my gift will take me. Being a person who likes a bit of this and a bit of that I don't like to put my art in a box and restrict myself. I like to explore different mediums, different art, use recycled items, any subject and make what I feel. Bring to life that feeling.

About the artistNot for sale.
HURTBy Camilla Strand(2022) 59.4 x 84.1cm, acrylic and paint pens on card.

Inspired by the interaction of my body during the art process, HURT was created by using large sytreaks of black paint pen on pink card. I wanted to find a way to express my rage of the never-ending trauma of woman-hood via art. I also utilised a palette knife to scrape pink acrylic paint over the back as a nod to the violent enforcment of gendered stereotypes. I made the face messy and unclear as a way to express the feeling of disintegration that occurs to my mental health as each new trauma is piled on. Although pink is a heavily gendered colour, it also represents unconditional love, which is somthing that is foundational to all of my creative expression.

Camilla Strand is a multi disciplinary feminist artist working in the fields of art, music & writing. Informed by second wave feminism, Camilla seeks to expose the lie that is patriarchy and strengthen women & herself to believe in our power.

Artwork DescriptionAbout the artistFor sale. $270.
Flowers of HealingBy Natalie Cermak(2021) 40 x 50cm, 30 x 60cm, 50 x 40cm, acrylic on canvas.

I am more than the sum of my scars, I am so much more involved than the disfigurment you think you left me with, you tried to re-arrange my truth by silencing and shaming, even abuse. Yet here I am watching perpetrators with pin point accuracy, not pretty but en Pointe, J't'accuse! There is never a reasonable excuse to silence victims, all who did and said nothing, turned a blind eye, enabled this abhorrent practice. It's outragous and has to stop, speak your truthy and your anger, for your truth is more than a sum or your scars. It may help heal some, so be brave, be able, speak now

Told never to do art at age 12, in 20's denied entry to arts degree due to tremors and artistic unsuitability, now early 60 and enjoying art as an expression of self and finally accepted into an arts degree in University pathway, Apparently my scars, abilities, disabilities and tremors are now acceptable. And it's now my time to express myself.

Artwork DescriptionAbout the artistFor Sale. $85.
The SUM of my SCARSBy Nicholi Whyte(2022) 76.1 x 61cm, acrylic on canvas.

I am more than the sum of my scars, I am so much more involved than the disfigurment you think you left me with, you tried to re-arrange my truth by silencing and shaming, even abuse. Yet here I am watching perpetrators with pin point accuracy, not pretty but en Pointe, J't'accuse! There is never a reasonable excuse to silence victims, all who did and said nothing, turned a blind eye, enabled this abhorrent practice, It's outragous and has to stop, speak your truthy and your anger, for your truth is more than a sum or your scars. It may help heal some, so be brave, be able, speak now.

Told never to do art at age 12, in 20's denied entry to arts degree due to tremors and artistic unsuitability, now early 60 and enjoying art as an expression of self and finally accepted into an arts degree in University pathway, Apparently my scars, abilities, disabilities and tremors are now acceptable. And it's now my time to express myself.

Artwork DescriptionAbout the artistNot for sale.
PedophileBy Finn(2022) 120 x 34 x 28cm, acrylic paint on sewn fabric.

Pedophile explores the lifelong impacts of child sexual abuse. Red hand prints are representative of the physical nature of the abuse, and the mark this leaves. Coffee staining is symbolic of the lifelong stain of mental illness left by the abuse. Loudly printed words represent the internal struggle of lacking a vouce but having so much pain, while forming the fabric into the form of a dress represents finding a voice and beginning to heal. The dress deliberatly lacks shape and form to depict the artists shame and need to hide their body as it developed.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. Open to offers.
Not GuiltyBy Reyne Andrews(2022) 100 x 100cm, acrylic on canvas.

"Not guilty" personifie's society's proclivity to blame victims of all forms of sexual violence. News Headlines are utilised to expose misogynistic undertones that encourage socially-sanctioned victim-blaming, whereby the victim becomes the perpetrator.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. $50 or donation to a relevent charity.
Goddess of Yin (Bath Bitch)(2022) 60 x 46cm, oil on canvas.

I studied Fine Art at Central St Martins in London a decade ago. Since then, my art practice has evolved adapting with my invisible illness. My practice explores society's perception of the self help movment, and toxic positivity from a feminist viewpoint. I spend a lot of time researching. observing and contemplating, so I can physically make the final work without exacerbating my health issues. The quick making process gives an immediacy and ephemeralness to my work.

About the artistFor Sale. $1850.
Magical Love Overturning DarknessBy Lacey Page(2022) 100 x 65cm, mixed media on paper.For Sale. $500.
Falling Forbidden Fruit, of the Uprooted Family Tree,
After Millenia of Dicktatorship.
By Rhiannon Pineau(2022) 75 x 60 x 15cm, mixed media on canvas.

There is a theory that the biblical tree, forbidden to Adam and Eve, was not only that of the Tree of Knowledge, but also a representation the Family Tree. The forbidden fruit of incest and the ripe temptation that makes men sin.
For a long as the 'Civilized World' has existed the patriarchy has controlled the moral compass of the family and society. Holding the puppet strings of the family tree, tradition and law. Blood binds these. A patriarchal dicktatorship, for thousands of years, unsatisfied men have been rewriting and translating the moral code to fit their agenda.
The forbidden fruit are leaving this system, uprooting the family tree. Falling floating, they reach out to be heard. Silently screaming for change, if you listen you will learn.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. $3200.
Blinded FacesBy Dilsah the Solution(2020) 61 x 61cm, mixed media, ink, oil and pastel on canvas.

Sometimes in life we are blinded and it feels very hard to take the blind fold away. Blinded ourselves because of the society stigmas. We can be or not be aware of it and it will take time to gather strength to open our eyes to what it is. Feeling sadness, small death within until growth comes release occur.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. $550.
PowerBy Edie Barrett(2022) 21 x 29.7cm, ink and pastel on archival paper.

Felt memories
inside my body
released onto paper

Artwork DescriptionNot for sale.Stolen(2022) 59.4 x 84.1 cm, Indian ink, butchers paper and printed collaged card.For sale. $100 framed, $50 unframed.Reclaim(2022) 29.7 x 42.0 cm, Digital paper print (from collage and ink).For sale. $50 (print edition 1 of 50).Fire(2022) 21 x 29.7cm, ink and pastel on archival paper.Not for sale.
Eyes Wide OpenBy Ingrid(2022) 11 x 12cm, lino print on paper.

I am learning to welcome and accept all the parts of me, the light and the dark of me:
the gorgeously loud, beautifully angry, boisterous, non-censoring parts of me
AND the gentle, quiet, compliant, forgiving parts.
The yin and the yang of me
Society had taught me it's only acceptable for me to be gentle and to turn a blind eye to the violations that I experience.
It’s because of the "entitled" perpetrator that I am on this journey, more determined to explore WHO I AM and pursue what I want for me.
Today, I have my eyes wide open.

Artwork DescriptionNot for sale.
WaitingBy Tasha Riley(2022) 40 x 40cm, acrylic on canvas.

“You hold her hand, under the shade of the Jacaranda tree, whose branches protect her from the afternoon sun, as you both sit waiting.
Waiting for news.
The phone rings.
Your soft sweater helps muffle her screams, yet it will not dry her tears that continue to fall.
Fall over roots.
Fall over the roots of the Jacaranda tree whose branches still protect her, strong and unwavering, attempting to compensate for a system that did not.”

Tasha Riley is Brisbane-based artist, born in London, Canada. She completed her BFA Honours at Western University where she was awarded The Governor General’s Gold Medal Award for Fine Arts, The Benjamin Noble Award for the Arts, and the Greg Curnoe Art Award. Tasha’s paintings have been featured at The McIntosh Gallery and The Palace at 4 am (London, Canada) as well as within the juried Brisbane Art Prize Exhibition at The Judith Wright Contemporary Art Centre. Her solo show, “All The Things She Didn’t Say” was recently exhibited in Galerie Aesop at Tiny Tree Cafe and featured paintings inspired by her lived experiences, expressing emotions too difficult to convey in words--enabling a reconnection to the deeper self. Her art illustrates particular moments in time each representing relatable emotional states (angst; despair; joy; resilience). Tasha has this to say about her art: “Painting allows me to express the things I want to say but I am unable to express…the pain of a loss too difficult to speak about, the feeling of rain after a long dry spell, the feeling of loving and being loved, or the secret that can never be shared.

Artwork DescriptionAbout the artistFor Sale. $350.
Her EyesBy Taylah Hunn(2022) 35 x 45cm, mixed media (Charcoal, Dried Flowers, Mirror Glass).

Her eyes are a memory burnt into my brain forever like an iron stick.
Her eyes are glazed, they look sad, trapped and completely hopeless.
I think to myself ‘she looks drugged’, ‘she must be forced to do this’.
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Her eyes do not look happy.
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She sits on my father’s lap that night, and we catch each other’s gaze for a moment that stops time.
I look into her glazed, exhausted eyes and feel sorry for her, for the injustice in the world, for all the women trafficked and forced to do this job.
But she looks back at me with the same, if not more, look of pity and compassion. And it is at that moment that I realise - I am just as trapped as her.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. $100.
My home, my hellBy Taylah Hunn(2020) 59.4 x 84.1 cm, charcoal and ink on paper.

My first own studio apartment.
The first place I felt had independence, choice, responsibility, freedom, boundaries. A lock on my door. A proper lease, consistent bills. The freedom to decorate the space as my own, to say no and choose who comes and goes, to create a safe bubble to block out the entire world. No more being on the run, finally a place to settle.
I thought I was safe; no one could hurt me anymore. I am in control.
I didn’t realise that my own mind had become the abuser and I was locked inside with it. I couldn’t outrun my own mind. I finally had my freedom, my bubble, my space - to self-destruct.

Artwork DescriptionFor Sale. $150.
Reclamation of Desire:
Daughters of Aphrodite Hear Me Roar
By Alee Lee(2022) 102 x 102 cm, oil on canvas.For Sale. $1200.
FFSWitch smokeBy Scarly(2022) 29.7 × 42cm, lino print on paper.(2022) 29.7 × 42cm, lino print on paper.

Not another rape myth!

Artwork DescriptionNot for sale.
I Am WomanBy Marilyn Cass(2022) 50 x 65cm, charcoal on pastel paper.Sold.Artwork Description

A woman’s strength, resilience and wisdom are not always obvious, but are forged in the shadows of her suffering and hardships.

How can one be truthful to self? The bronze maskBy Aunty Dawn Daylight(2022) 30.5 x 40.5cm, mixed media on board.Sold.Artwork Description

My goal was to overcome these things; shame, abuse, a child put at risk, abused by someone you know, someone you are supposed to trust, someone who you can identify at a police station in a line up. This is at a time in a different state of mind, this takes a lot of courage. So this is my Gold! I've received this Goal- when finding it, identifying it and knowing it. It is bloody brave! to get this far in time. The path can be different and can help to get easier if you are willing and ready to make a change.

Aunty Dawn is a yuggera woman and has blood lines to the Turrbal people and was born in Ipswich, now resides in Brisbane and has worked with women at BRISSC and have done some work musically with sisters inside. She still works in community with women and sometimes children. She runs workshops with women who have eating disorders. She also worked in the education department, Murri school Acacia Ridge. She also works with indigiliz women and have supported people with mental health issues. She currently works with people in the West end area and with immunel mission working with arts and crafts groups. She also holds a BA Bachelor of arts in Aboriginal Studies through Griffith university and featured in her own film Lost Daylight.

About the artist
Healing on countryBy Kalika Link(2022) 61 x 81cm, mixed media on board.For sale. $1500.For sale. $1000.

Local indigenous artist, decendent of Kabi Kabi, Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka Nation.

About the artistStrength Amongst Sisters(2022) 50 x 61cm, acrylic on canvas.
Either Move or be MovedBy Karin Cheyne(2022) 70 x 130 x 16cm, weaving installation.Not for sale

Feminist artist.

Create a liberatory culture, wherein we can all learn to love. There can be no love where there is domination… the work of love is doing the work of ending domination - Inspired by Bell Hooks and Ezra Pound

About the artistArtwork Description
Young Warrior WomanBy Ingrid(2022) 20.5 x 20.5cm, watercolors and make up foundation on canvas.Not for sale

Reclaiming what they took from her.

Artwork Description
Sexually abUSED?!TBI, brbBy Al McGyver(2022) 39 x 50cm, analog collage.(2022) 19.5 x 24.5cm, analog collage.Not for saleFor sale. Negotiable.

Al (she/they) is a 26 year analog collagist from Meanjin, and raised in the suburbs of Wynnum. If there’s a material that can be stuck onto paper, there’s a high chance it will end up in a piece of art.

About the artist