A future without domestic violence is more attainable when survivors are empowered to speak out against their abusers, which in turn inspires more survivors to speak out. For a 21-year-old makeup artist in New Orleans, creating powerful imagery was her way of shedding light on this very serious issue.
Ebony Malika said that she experienced both physical and mental abuse over the course of a two-year relationship. It was the physical abuse, she said, that inspired her to leave her relationship and to empower other survivors to follow suit. To spread awareness, Malika used her impressive makeup skills to create a photo series showcasing the physical consequences of domestic violence.
"I knew I wasn't the only person who has ever been in that situation so I wanted to spread much needed awareness," Malika wrote to A Plus.
Malika teamed up with photographer Delaney George for the series, and they released a few of the photographs on Instagram in November.
"A dedication to Domestic Violence victims, males & females of all races," George wrote on Instagram. "Bring the issue out of the dark and into the light!"
Malika said that she received many positive responses from women who felt compelled to share their domestic violence stories because of her photo series.
"Those stories alone showed me that my mission had been accomplished," she told BuzzFeed. "Domestic violence is a serious issue and no one should feel threatened by a person they love and trust."
Malika's courageous project is another example of how domestic violence survivors are starting to #breakthesilence by speaking out.
However, as a 2015 National Domestic Violence Hotline study showed, some women are reluctant to call law enforcement because of fears of police discrimination. We need to invest in police training and further reforms to ensure that all survivors can feel safe when speaking out.