Vacuous by Shawna Leonard for First Step, The Community Room Gallery, Community Arts of Elmira, 413 Lake Street, Elmira, New York 14901. First Step is a partnership of Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler Counties and Community Arts of Elmira.

The First Step Victim Services Department of Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties and Community Arts of Elmira have partnered to present First Step, an art exhibition designed to raise awareness of domestic violence through expressive art. Through the exhibit, artists will explore what non-physical violence might look like if it were physical violence.

Kris Morseman, Victim Services Supervisor, explains, “I’m thrilled for this opportunity to partner with Community Arts of Elmira and have local artists help us show the public what non-physical domestic violence looks like. For far too long people have put up with this hurtful behavior simply because they didn’t know that domestic violence does not have to leave physical marks. There are NO MORE excuses for any kind of domestic violence and sexual assault.” 

Themes viewed in the artwork of First Step may include aspects of emotional abuse such as “mind games,” threats, isolation, shaming, blaming and criticizing.

The Opening Reception for First Step will be held on March 9 from 5pm-7pm at Community Arts of Elmira (413 Lake St, Elmira). The Opening will conclude national NO MORE week, which is a chance for the community to band together to say NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault. Community members are encouraged to attend. Individuals will have the opportunity to interact at a photo station where they can make their own NO MORE statement to speak out against the lies that can be told to cover up domestic violence or sexual assault (i.e. “NO MORE it doesn’t happen here”). This event is free and open to the public.

“Creative community partnerships are central to the mission of Community Arts of Elmira,” commented Lynne Rusinko, Board President of Community Arts of Elmira. “Through such collaboration, empathy grows, and people unify. Creative expression can empower individuals to catalyze social movements. Art connects, heightens awareness and creates change.”

Here are a few reasons why it is so important to make awareness a priority: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence in their lives. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18. Please join us in saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault.

When it comes to challenging and ending domestic violence and sexual assault, we are all capable of breaking the silence, taking action, and creating change.

Gallery Hours for First Step are Fridays and Saturdays, 11am-1pm, March 9 – April 27, 2019, at The Community Room Gallery, Community Arts of Elmira, 413 Lake Street, Elmira, NY 14901. For more information, email.

For more information about NO MORE Week, contact Kristine Morseman, Victim Services and Housing Supervisor at 607-535-2050, ext. 205 or via email. For more information on the First Step Victim Services Program, please visit their page.