Facebook Tries To Silence Domestic Violence Campaign
Like any artist, my ultimate goal is to make a statement with my art. Tell a story, provoke thought, make people feel something…those are the hallmarks of great art. October brought together the perfect storm to inspire me to attempt such a work. First, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and while domestic violence can be visited upon anyone, statistically it is women who most often suffer.
In fact, every woman in my life has a story about being assaulted, groped…raped. Literally, every. single. one. And that breaks my heart. I love women. Most of my closest friends have been women. The majority of my clients are women. My biggest hero is a woman, my sweet Grandma, and even she has a story.
The early weeks of October also brought to light some troubling statements made by our current Republican nominee for President. I won’t go into some political rant, I’ll save that for another day and another photo, but those words along with the recent case of the Stanford
swimmer rapist and of the Judge in another rape case who asked the victim, “Why didn’t you just keep your legs closed” lit a rage in me that I felt I needed to address the best way I knew how: Through photography.
The idea came immediately, I knew right away which one of my models I needed for this piece, and the image was shot, edited, and posted within a couple of days of concept. All that was left was to post it to my Facebook page and see what people thought.
I never imagined the image would go further than my core base of followers, but to my surprise, the likes, shares, and comments skyrocketed. Within the first 24 hours of being posted the photo received over 70,000 views, more than 750 shares, and numerous comments, both positive and negative, which one would expect with such a controversial topic. More important was the comments and messages I received from women thanking me for creating the photo and standing up for this issue. I really didn’t feel I deserved any thanks. If you’re not against the abuse of women, well, something’s wrong with you. But their words were appreciated and touched me and made me feel as though I had done something worthwhile as an artist.
I laid my head down that evening excited to see how many more views this image would have in the morning. Would it go truly viral? I’ll never know. When I went to log into Facebook the next morning I was greeted with a message stating that the image had been removed. No reason was given. A quick browse through Facebook’s TOS agreement shows that there was no violation. There is no nudity as all “naughty” bits are covered by the hands. One could argue that the image does depict violence, but clearly it is in an “educational” way, which is supposedly allowed in their TOS.
I also earned myself a 24 hour suspension of my account along with the threat of longer suspensions and possibly deletion of my account altogether if I posted similar content. Well, I don’t like threats, so I immediately reached out to the model from the photo and set about creating a new photo, one aimed squarely at Facebook and their seeming intent to silence those who speak out against domestic violence. That photo is currently up on my page and we’ll see how long it takes for it to get deleted.
What saddens me the most is that some real conversation was taking place as a result of this image and that was squelched before it could flourish. Shame on you, Facebook for taking a voice away from those who need it.
In order to still try to see some good come from this experience, I plan to donate a portion of any sales of prints of this photo to organizations around the Branson/Springfield, Missouri area who aid victims of domestic violence. Contact me here if you are interested in a print. I also plan to offer the free usage of the image to any such organizations who wish to use it, nationwide.
Here’s a few stats from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
Let’s do better, America. Please?