Coffee table book Grim Tales was launched at a spectacular fairytale ball on Saturday, with sexual violence advocate Louise Nicholas as guest speaker.

More than 140 locals attended the "cornucopian evening of fine food, beastly servants, mystical music and lusciousness" said manager of The Incubator, Simone Anderson, who came up with the idea of publishing the book in collaboration with Tauranga Women's Refuge.

Guests included 13 survivors of violence and 13 local artists and writers who transformed the women's stories into folkloric art inspired by fairytales of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm.

Louise Nicholas praised the bravery of the women who shared their histories of domestic violence, saying it was time to open the curtains on this "crime of silence".


"It must have taken a mountain of courage to open up, about something that women hide away in shame."

The stories were incredibly sad, she said, depicting the suffering of not just the women but their children.

"If you haven't been there you don't know how isolating it is, how lonely and scared a woman feels to be attacked and hurt by someone she loves."

The book was one of hope too, that the women had triumphed, having walked out of the violence.

Family violence was an issue for everyone she said,

"Communities need to stand up. We are all leaders. There is strength and safety by acting collectively."

The storytellers stood up next to their writers and artists, some in tears and emotional as one spoke about how they had come through their tragic experiences as "stronger, better human beings" who have "walked through fire and cannot be burned".

Ms Anderson said that art was a powerful way to deliver the message. Using symbols of fairytales, like "demons spilling from the tongue" to depict someone shouting, interspersed with real detail like being pushed down the stairs on to a laundry basket, gave the book a blend of aesthetic beauty and gritty reality which made it far reaching.

The book would raise funds for the refuge to sustain its work in the community.

Megan Peacock Coyle, manager of Baycourt Performing Arts Centre, said the book would be transformed into performance art, including theatre drama and film in 18 months' time.

"Telling these stories visually is another way, like the book, of getting domestic violence right in front of the eyes of the community."

Grim Tales:

* Grim Tales is created by The Incubator and teams photographers, artists and writers with clients of the Tauranga Women's Refuge to tell their stories to shine a light on domestic violence in the local community.

* Proceeds go to Tauranga Women's Refuge

* To get your copy, head to