FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
CONTACT: Cristina Williams, RICADV: (401) 467-9940, Cell: (917) 940-3729
Local Task Force of Domestic Violence Survivors Receives National Award for Innovative Solutions and Local Support for Raising Awareness
Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) celebrates Mary Byron award and success of domestic violence play, Behind Closed Doors, which was funded by The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) and raises awareness about domestic violence in a non-traditional format
[Providence] SOAR, a task force of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) comprised of survivors of domestic violence, has recently received both national and local support for creating innovative solutions to raise awareness about domestic violence. Behind Closed Doors is one such solution. The play recently debuted to an engaged and full audience (including Attorney General Kilmartin) at Trinity Repertory Dowling Theater on December 10, 2012—The Women's Center Peer Advocates and Zeta Tau Alpha at the University of Rhode Island sponsored a successful, special preview screening on December 7 to help raise awareness about dating violence to a younger demographic. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest levels of this abuse, almost triple the national average.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, who attended the performance, said, "It was the most compelling presentation regarding domestic violence I have seen. With real-life stories presented in a creative way, the play took the audience from early warning signs of domestic violence, to psychological control and physical abuse, to escape and finally ongoing survivorship; it encompassed all aspects of the cycle of violence. The strength of the fifteen women presenting their stories was inspiring on many levels. Everyone should view this play, especially young people starting out in new relationships."
Locally, The Rhode Island Council on the Arts (RISCA) gave SOAR a grant to develop and produce Behind Closed Doors as part of the Arts Access Grant Program. Established in 1967, RISCA is charged by the state legislature to stimulate public interest and participation in the arts and to serve as the liaison to the state arts community. The organization envisions a Rhode Island where all people have an opportunity to participate in the arts, where the arts contribute to the social, economic and educational well-being of our state, and where the arts are valued by all Rhode Islanders as an integral part of life.
BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF RHODE ISLAND:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island was the title sponsor for the opening night performance of Behind Closed Doors at the Trinity Repertory Dowling Theater. As a local nonprofit, the organization strives to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them - from fiscal resources to the environment - to help all Rhode Islanders improve their health. They invest in initiatives and programs addressing critical issues impacting the health of their community.
TRINITY REPERTORY COMPANY:
Trinity Repertory Company became a local supporter of SOAR when they championed the Behind Closed Doors play. Back in October at the RICADV press conference for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, guests (including Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline, and Attorney General Kilmartin) gave great reviews after witnessing a special preview performance of the play, which consisted of three individual experiences of domestic violence shared in three unique formats.
Michael Williams, Education Outreach Coordinator for Trinity Repertory Company, says of the his experience working on the play: "As a theatremaker and citizen, I am saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault by using the arts and theatre to shine light on an issue that has been kept silent for far too long. By sitting in a room with these incredible women, seeing their faces, hearing their words and sharing in their struggles and triumphs, together we can gain a greater understanding of domestic violence and sexual assault and charge ourselves and our community to enact change. It is a humbling experience indeed to work with such courageous, driven, endlessly creative women," he added.
MARY BYRON PROJECT:
Nationally, SOAR became one of only four recent recipients of the highly competitive Mary Bryon Award Celebrating Solutions to end domestic violence. The Mary Byron Project – Fostering Innovations and Strategies to End Domestic Violence – was established in memory of the young woman whose murder led to the creation of VINE® (Victim Information and Notification Everyday). As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities. Learn more at www.marybyronproject.org.
Of the recipients, Marcia Roth, executive director of the Mary Byron Project, said "these are four wonderful organizations that are working tirelessly to put an end to domestic violence. The Mary Byron Project is proud to recognize them for the great work they are doing."
About Behind Closed Doors:
Behind Closed Doors is an original play written and performed by 15 survivors of domestic violence from SOAR. This performance is a true account of their experiences with domestic violence, hope and survival, and seeks to draw you into their lives to dispel the stigmas of this often misunderstood abuse. The script was crafted by Trinity Repertory Company teaching artists Michael Williams and Francesca Montanile, who mentored the SOAR members in cultivating their performances. The play was developed over ten 90-minute sessions in which the survivors journaled, wrote poetry and told stories that were weaved into a play composed completely of their own words. The women speak both their own words and the words of their fellow survivors. All proceeds from Behind Closed Doors benefit SOAR/RICADV in raising awareness to end domestic violence.
Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) is a nationally recognized task force of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence made up of survivors of domestic violence. SOAR is the only group in Rhode Island specifically working on systems change that consists entirely of survivors of domestic violence and is a leader among similar groups in the nation.
SOAR's mission is to promote, advocate and work towards the elimination of domestic violence and to embody and give visibility to the voices of abused women.