Art to End the Silence on Rape – Head on a Stick – Art and Poetry by Charlotte Farhan

Head on a Stick - By Charlotte Farhan
Head on a Stick – By Charlotte Farhan

Head on a Stick

By Charlotte Farhan

I offer my head to feed their eyes and tongues,

judgment spat at me with venomous vigour,

my body discarded leaving me without lungs,

crowds come forward with their mouths even bigger.

“Her head on a stick” the rabble loudly shout,

“she was asking for it” they scream insanely,

“But it’s the truth” I say, day in and day out,

“please believe me” I plea to humanity.

Life feeds on death; a self-destructive fury,

on public display my shame is left weeping,

my fresh blood is doused over the grand jury,

headless, with sexual organs for reaping.

The executioner offers salvation,

delivering me from my sin and evil

sex used as character assassination,

loss of life force, my soul is in upheaval

Like Medusa before me, our heads have rolled,

forasmuch as we were thought monstrous women,

our Fathers never let go their stranglehold,

still our legs run red with the deepest crimson.

The crowds start to disperse from around my head,

I feel I may be able to find some peace,

ripped apart, I could lay on my deathbed,

culpability placed like an altarpiece.

A victim I was, but a victim they blame,

told this violation does not happen here,

our voices attest; the night must be reclaimed,

identities are shaken and disappear.

Rape is not the act of sexual desire,

it is not uncommon as you may believe,

our minds are ruled now by an occupier,

we are the scapegoats, left – to be disbelieved.


This piece of poetry is from my degree course in Creative Writing.

The theme of this poem is that of victim blaming and the impact on the victim of sexual violence.

I am a victim who survived sexual abuse as a child, sexual violence and rape as a teenager as well as 2 sexual attacks in a psychiatric ward as a teenager.

Please take a look at my other articles and art on this important issue:

Click here: Art to End the Silence on Rape

If you would like to support my mission to end sexual violence and rape culture please like my awareness Facebook Page:

Click Here: No Excuses – Sexual Violence Must End


 

For any further information on my work please fill in the contact form:

The Agoraphobic Artist – How I live in the captivity of my mind

Artist Charlotte Farhan
Artist Charlotte Farhan

Some see agoraphobia as simply not being able to leave your home or a fear of being outside. But I am here to give you a true insight into this disorder.

So lets look at its definitions:

Dictionary definition:

Agoraphobianoun, Psychiatry.

an abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas,sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks.

General definition:

Agoraphobia is what is known as an anxiety disorder characterized by anxiety in situations where the sufferer perceives the environment to be dangerous, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

For more information visit The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnostic criteria via psych central.

So how does my agoraphobia impact my life and what symptoms do I have?

  • I have not left my home or been outside alone for over 9 years. I spend 5 out of 7 days without leaving my home at all. When I do I have to be with a trusted companion, I have a handful of friends and my husband who I trust to do this with. I have to go to familiar shops and take familiar routes. I mainly go to the supermarket, local shops, friends houses and a few outdoor and indoor activities.
  • I can’t answer the door to people, unless I know it is a friend and a scheduled meeting.
  • I find very open spaces terrifying. Such as mountains and rolling countryside, which is difficult because I also love them visually. When in these environments I am on high alert. I am able to go to these places with a companion, but feel like I am going to fall off the earth. Places I have visited like this include The Brecon Beacons in Wales, the deserts in Jordan and The Alps in France and many more, but these stick out in my mind as I felt so overwhelmed by the “exposure” of the the elements and how insignificant I am on this rock in space.
  • I find large crowds panic inducing. A busy shop, a packed cinema, a concert, festival and many other environments are either impossible on most days or need a lot of planning and even then can just be too much.
  • Bridges make me feel physically sick!
  • Most public transport is a big NO! But I can take a plane to visit family in Jordan or for a holiday as long as with my husband. Trains and the underground are the worst and most of the time I would not be able to use these at all.

This is not everything I suffer from but are the main factors within my agoraphobia.

Having had lots of treatment for my agoraphobia but none being successful, has been disheartening. My only success is in my acceptance of the illness, my ability to recognise behavioural patterns and to express my feelings of how it is to live with the condition and raise awareness and understanding, so that others who suffer feel less alone and for those who do not know what it is or how it affects a person, they are able to learn.

This is why I truly believe art is an effective tool within my treatment and general mental health. As well as being something I can do for the wider cause, by sharing my art I am sharing my experience and allowing there to be a visual testimony which will allow others to feel less alone.

Here is my latest piece of art:

Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan 

Agoraphobia - By Charlotte Farhan
Agoraphobia – By Charlotte Farhan

My agoraphobia was born from my PTSD and this is very common for those suffering from these conditions.

The motivation behind my brains need to protect me is a reaction to the trauma I have suffered. Having survived childhood abuse from a family member and then at 15 being raped by a someone I knew and liked, sent my brain into a dissociated state, which in turn built up a fortress in my mind, trying to protect me from being in any further situation or from seeing the abusers again. Unfortunately, since then I have seen them, a handful of times but a handful which was enough to suffocate me and make my illnesses worse, reliving the experiences and feeling like I am a child again, or that 15 year old girl who was just looking for love and kindness not for life to repeat its torture and leave her as a broken doll who had been dragged through dirt.

quote about rape and ptsd

Although my agoraphobia is like a prison, it is also a safe house, a place where I can protect myself and feel like I have done everything in my power to prevent further pain.

Many feelings arise in me due to this forced mental committal, such as being an eternal child/adolescent, shame, guilt and vulnerability to everything. Often I am ashamed that at the age of 31 I am unable to leave my house alone, that I can not go to a shop to buy a pint of milk or far more important things, such as visiting a friend in distress, I lost my independence.

What I wish for you, the reader to remember is that no two people suffering from agoraphobia or any of the conditions I have mentioned are the same. Our experiences are our own and instead of assuming you know why, ask them or just mind your own business.

Just be mindful that there is no simple solution and please do not feel it necessary to try and dominate an individual into doing anything they are not comfortable or ready to do. We are not a “feel good” project for you to tackle, we are people living with a complicated psychological illness which does not need to be fixed by you, your empathy (not sympathy) is the most valuable of comforts. Listen to us, learn about our lives and reasons, do not judge, do not bully. If then, and only then, we ask for help or you wish to offer it, simply accept what we need and if you can help we will be most grateful.

 

mental illness quotes

 

Living with agoraphobia is like being a caged animal who fears its capture and environment. My mind passes back and forth and my panic increases with everyday that passes. Daily events round the world confirm the need to be locked away, for my own safety and sometimes others. On occasion certain parts of my mind wish to escape the confinement the agoraphobia has created, parts of my other illnesses such as my borderline personality disorder and psychotic depression bash their metaphorical heads against the bars of my prison. This illness is the child of my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from trauma comes anxiety and this ultimately changed my entire behaviour and personality.

Charlotte Farhan - Photography by Lisa Reeve
Charlotte Farhan – Photography by Lisa Reeve

If you or anyone you know suffers from agoraphobia please find more information via these links:

ANXIETY UK

NHS

Psych Central 

Here is another article I wrote on this subject:

The Agoraphobic Artist – My Story

 

 

Art to end the Silence on Rape – by artist Charlotte Farhan

Art to end the Silence on Rape

Since receiving reliving trauma therapy for PTSD my mind has swollen and over-spilled with flashbacks and night-terrors. This intensive therapy has hurt like a thousand knives piercing my brain and heart, but with all intensive therapies it gets worse before there is any relief. I have yet to feel any deliverance.

The word ‘rape’ used to be an utterance I was unable to speak or think, the mere mention or thought of the word, would send me into a detached state, a complete shutdown and the escapist inside found a way of entering a safe place which was more like a dream world.

It took me 10 years to confront the word, not the act, just that word ‘RAPE’.

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I had now accepted the word and what it meant for my continued existence, however I still can not truly accepted what has happened to me.

I still go over and over the incident, although the voice of society bullies my mind and the disbelievers ring in my ears. Telling me “but you fancied him? How could you not have wanted it?” and “But you are crazy, why would we believe you?” 

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Everything you could think of was used against me; my clothes, my mental health, home life and how well I knew my rapist were all used to justify what happened to me and I felt blamed, confused and as if I was deserving of it all.

Even after internal and external surgery caused by the rape, it was still said “she is so crazy she probably did the injuries to herself”.

The doctors, surgeons, police and mental health team all believed me and repeatedly told me it was not my fault and that the damage was clearly from forced intercourse and the bruises and marks were conclusive of restraint marks, but they were unable to undo centuries of victim blaming and misconceptions about rape, the world around me was singing from a different hymn sheet and I could not hear their support over the louder voice, saying “you were asking for it”.

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The person who I needed to believe me was not my friends, family or even society, it was in fact me!

I only managed to do this, this year and strangely enough it was exactly 15  years since that day. Through reliving the rape in my therapy I was able to separate myself and all the other voices and see the truth. Although it was a relief to finally say to my 15 year old self “I believe you”, it felt as if it had just happened and felt more real than ever.

I am still struggling and receiving treatment. But as a survivor I decided to speak my truth, to be part of the change and help others like myself. 

OMGOSH thats is true

As an artist I have decided to raise awareness and help end the silence.

Here is one of my first pieces from this collection, which is accompanied by a poem.

Chained By Charlotte Farhan
Chained By Charlotte Farhan

Chained – By Charlotte Farhan

I was chained by my fear, after you held me down.

I was chained by your force, when my life was turned upside down.

I was chained by peers and the social pressure to conform, with not wanting to be different or to cause a storm.

I was chained by my clothing, which was used against me, as well as my self loathing.

I was chained by the trauma, which haunts me to this day and the wish for life to serve you your karma will never go away.

I was chained by you, by them, by me.
Chained by the idea that “I was asking for it”
I am still chained and wish to be free.

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Thank you for reading.

Please share this post, be part of the change yourself. 

At this present time I am working on an exhibition of art, sculptures and a book to accompany this project, to share my story, my suffering and my survival as well as highlighting rape culture in our society on a global scale.

Please help me in my campaign and like my Facebook page:

No Excuses – Sexual Violence Must End

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For further advice and support :

Rape Crisis UK

Get Connected – Rape Support

RAINN | Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network