A local artist is using her first exhibition to raise awareness of violence against women, while fundraising for a causes close to her heart.
The opening of Barbara Bew's exhibition titled The Beauty of the Human Spirit; from out of the darkness and into the light is being held on Friday October 6, 5.30pm, at The Arts Village.
The exhibition will run to October 28.
Barbara says the exhibition is a fundraiser for Women's Refuge and she wants to raise awareness of violence against women through the art.
She says Women's Refuge gave her advice over the phone after her own personal experience with a violent assault, which was the beginning of her journey to recovery.
Barbara says the exhibition is about how the human spirit raises up from adversity.
"I think it's a forum to raise awareness for violence against women. It's about speaking out about what happened and breaking the silence."
She says all proceeds will go to Women's Refuge and it is a way for her to repay the resources used which helped her to reclaim her life back.
"Domestic violence is insidious. Its tendrils reach far and deep into people's lives. It affects not just the victim but friends and family too."
She says statistics are rising all the time of men, women, children and foetus' dying because of violence.
"Victims don't deserve to have their lives devastated and attitudes in society need to change towards survivors."
She says until the issue touched her life, she never realised the depth of damage that could be done.
Barbara says she was violently assaulted in July 2014 by her then-fiance.
She left the house and relationship immediately, so it was a one-off violent assault, she says.
Barbara says many women did not have a voice or place to go, and that women stay in violent relationships for a lot of different reasons.
A number of other trials occurred in the year after the assault, with Barbara falling and breaking her leg, being in a car crash, having a big flood in the house, her two dogs getting sick and dying and then losing a close friend.
She says at that point she stepped away from her nursing career to take care of herself and ACC deemed that she would benefit from a psychologist.
Barbara says she worked with a psychologist for a year, dealing with the trauma of the assault.
She explored her emotions through art and art therapy helped her recover. She has rebuilt an amazing life and rebuilt her nursing career, she says.
She says she started to do canvas work two years ago when she created one for her baptism and to thank God that she survived.
"I started to believe in my art and it's gone from there, and I'm so blown away by the canvases that have been produced."
This is her first art exhibition and she is excited, she says.
Barbara says she is excited for people to share in this amazing opportunity and to raise awareness.
She will speak on the opening night, as well as people from Women's Refuge.