Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Tellinnng

TRIGGER WARNING - THIS BLOG TALKS 

ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE


My blog is something that has kept me going over the years. Sharing my experiences with other people to let them know that they aren't alone. The times that I've visited a therapist/psychiatrist, they often ask the same questions; about my family, about my childhood, about my experiences. Rarely have I ever told my therapist/psychiatrist everything. It's a bit difficult to weave everything into twelve one hour sessions. Especially when you have a therapist who tells you it's "all a bit negative" ( yes, that happened and that was the last time I saw a therapist!)
One of the subjects I've never actually covered with a therapist/psychiatrist is the domestic abuse I've suffered. Talking about this subject is incredibly painful for me. It can be very triggering. I suffer flashbacks still. I sometimes wake up in the night in a cold sweat thinking he's in the room. It's something I doubt will ever leave me.




It is imperative for me to talk about this now. Why now you might wonder? On Thursday 08 April I attended a cabaret show. This show is a monthly delight. It's one night where I get to feel safe. I'm surrounded by glorious friends and entertained by some of London's most revered performers. The show is Cabaret Roulette. The premise of the show is pretty simple: it's a cabaret and it features an element of danger! I imagine you're wondering how a cabaret show can be dangerous right? There are many potential dangers when it comes to cabaret. Performers play with fire, they jump on broken glass, they staple things to themselves, they douse themselves in the deadliest, most noxious substance known to the cabaret world - GLITTER!



Cabaret Roulette has incorporated all of these elements and many more, just like many other cabaret shows. So why is Cabaret Roulette even more dangerous I hear you ask? Well my friends, the biggest danger comes from the roulette wheel. Have you heard of Russian Roulette? Of course you have. Cabaret Roulette works much the same. The gun is loaded with 5 themes, the audience then vote on the theme they wish to see for the next-but-one show. In short, there are 8 performers tucked away somewhere awaiting that bullet. They are signed up, locked in and awaiting the fate that the audience will deal them. They then have 2 months to come up with a brand new act centred around said theme.




There have been many glorious interpretations of themes throughout the lifetime of the show. Each artist puts their own unique spin on the theme within the boundaries of their performance medium. Some have pushed those boundaries to create something new and innovative. Something we could never have imagined within the theme given.

The show on 08 April was themed Nightmare. There are many interpretations available for nightmare. The one act that stuck with me the most was the performance by Rubyyy Jones. That act was centred around Domestic Violence.

Rubyyy Jones is the Queen of Queerlesque, an international performer and producer who stomps and struts stages across the UK and Europe. A performance artist who flits between theatre, queer, burlesque and fetish stages; Rubyyy is also a choreographer, teacher and director in these fields. Ranked in the top 10 UK Burlesque Performers ( 21st Century Burlesque 2015 ) Rubyyy brings glitter, politics and power to any stage she swirls on! Her reputation precedes her!



RUBYYY JONES


I spoke with, Rubyyy about her piece;
The theme given was nightmare. Could you tell me briefly how this led you to create a piece about domestic violence?
Well darling, initially I thought I would do something a bit tongue and cheek, me waking up over and over in a 9-5 day in day out desk job. I started to think how that’s a nightmare for me and then I checked my privilege and thought a little deeper to the true waking nightmares that some people live in. I had discussed an act like this with a colleague, Noah Henne, and then there it was again. This nightmare that some people wish they could wake up from.

What is your experience with domestic violence? Is it something you or someone close to you has suffered or is it just something you wanted to create a piece for?
I have experienced domestic abuse, but not to the level at which I address in the piece. For a long period of time in my relationships, I was involved with individuals who were, in one way or another, abusive to me. Most of the violence I experienced was sexual, psychological and emotional. I had one partner who was physically violent and I remember thinking, very vividly, I want to wake up out of this, this is not my life. It took me a long time to recover and I still bare the scars and stressed of that time, something I’m working on.

How did you feel before presenting the piece? Did you have any particular concerns?
I was very clear with the awesome and understanding producer Vivacity Bliss that I felt this piece needed very specific trigger warnings. And not to happen only immediately before the piece, I wanted people to feel they had space to leave if they needed to without feeling eyes on them so we gave a warning at the beginning of the act I was in and then also before the piece itself. I was concerned for anyone who has been touched by this kind of violence because it is so hidden - one of my motivations for doing the piece - and though I want my work to challenge people, I never want anyone to feel unsafe or further traumatised.

How did you feel afterwards?
I actually felt okay afterwards. I felt slightly unsettled by the people who laughed at the very violent climax but I know that in cabaret there will always be drunk fools in the audience and that in some cases, maybe some people laughed because they could not bare to cry. I felt very emotional before the show. When my partner Prince Lydia was painting on the bruises I could feel my bruises just below the surface. It was hard but the cast was really supportive and understanding. I ran through the act several times before going on stage, not full out, but just enough so some the emotion could be released. I did not want to lose control of my emotions on stage. I wanted them to flow, I wanted them to be real but I wanted the piece to be about being a mirror, not about my own feelings.

What do you hope to achieve with this piece?
I want to present this piece to different types of audiences to be a mirror. You do not have to have someone beat you for you to feel beaten down. You do not have to be covered in bruises to feel hurt and pained. Abuse is a cycle and it only deepens, it never gets better and the piece went to a very extreme level to make that clear. Here is a woman, pledging her everything, anything she has left to someone who has taken out everything on her and we all hope that she’s won and she dies. The statistics for domestic abuse are STAGGERING. This is happening to people every day, men and women, all over the world, your neighbour, your co worker, that lady who you help at Morrisons. This is real life. I want to bring and show that.

Is there anything you would like to add about this piece?
I’m really grateful to Vivacity Bliss and The RVT for giving me the space to bring this piece to life. I couldn’t have done it without direction and conception collaboration with Noah Henne and if anyone can think of spaces or stages where this piece can happen, please get in touch, I want it to be shared and seen.

You can contact Rubyyy Jones via Facebook and Twitter.




Copyright Jon Ellis www.lensintheface.com 

I have to say, after watching Rubyyy's piece, I was in a state of shock. It was almost like seeing a part of my own life up there on the stage. I knew that I was openly weeping but there was nothing I could do. I had already registered that a friend sat on the other side of the stage had checked in with me, I don't think I acknowledged him though, I couldn't. 

Below is the video of Rubyyy's piece; Tellinnng. Please be warned that viewers may be triggered by this piece. It is, however, an incredible performance that, in my opinion, needs to be widely circulated!



I have been raped, beaten and psychologically abused by more than one ex partner.
I had written in more detail about my own experience but I have decided not to directly add it to the blog. However, if you would like to read the snapshot of my experiences, please click here.

I often get asked the same questions in relation to this situation; "Why didn't you just leave?" There is no "just leave". Not in any relationship. I had too much pride for starters. I didn't want to admit that things were going down the pan. I wanted so desperately to make things work. When things were good between us, I was so happy. Fred was so loving and gentle. We had the perfect relationship. Furthermore, throughout the relationship, I had become isolated. I had no friends to speak of. If I left him I would be alone. I also wanted to prove my mum wrong! There, I said it.

The other age old - and tiresome - question is "Well, why didn't you report him to the police?" Again, not that simple. I had no hard evidence. It was my word against his and he came from a family with money. 

There was actually one incident I did report to the police. It was after the breakup. I had gone to the house to collect some important mail. We got into a fight and he threw me against the stairs. I got carpet burns to my face. When I made it out of the house he came after me. I ran down the street screaming. Someone saw or heard the commotion and offered me refuge in their house. The people who took me in then called the police. They told me to go home and they would come round. The kind stranger then drove me home. It was 2 days before the police finally came around. They took a statement and took pictures of my injuries which by this point were healing. They told me they couldn't prove Fred had caused my injuries. The kind stranger had told the police they saw Fred chasing me down the street. I wanted to press charges, I wanted a restraining order. The police spoke to Fred who admitted that he had caused my injuries. They let him go with a "slapped wrist". For reasons that were not made clear to me they didn't press charges and I was the one warned to stay away from him. I was the victim but I was made to feel like the criminal.







It is imperative that people know more about domestic abuse. It is important that people know that domestic abuse isn't just a man hitting his partner. Women can be the instigators too. There doesn't have to be violence either. It could just as easily be psychological abuse.
Youngsters ought to be made aware of domestic abuse. They need to be taught that domestic abuse comes in many forms and is NEVER ok. The more we can educate people about this kind of behaviour the less prevalent it will become.

If you feel affected by this blog or the video, please do feel free to email me. I am also on Facebook. If you need help in relation to matters contained in this blog please take a look at the links below.





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