Exhibition at Wells Cathedral highlights the issue of domestic abuse

15th November 2023

On average two women every week are killed by a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. An exhibition designed to raise awareness of domestic abuse and highlight the impact it has on families, is being held at Wells Cathedral. 

'The Souls of our Shoes – A journey into and out of Domestic Abuse', is an exhibition designed and organised by the Mothers’ Union. It is being used in a variety of diocesan and parish contexts to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence. The exhibition in Wells has been organised by the Diocese of Bath and Wells Mothers' Union. On display in the Undercroft of the Cathedral, from 25 November until 9 December, the display features shoes of all different styles, sizes, and colour. Each contains a comment from those twho have walked away from abuse and those who have journeyed with them. 

Madeline Hellier, Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union in Bath and Wells says, “The exhibition is designed to draw attention to the fact that domestic violence is going on. Most people think it’s not going on in their street, with people they work with, or belive it can’t possibly happen to people they know, but the collection of shoes is designed to make people become more aware. To recognise it can happen to anyone, anywhere. It has some really powerful messages which will make people stop and think, so that somehow, together, we can help break the cycle of abuse.”

The exhibition was created by the Mothers' Union in Scotland. It is an extension of the Union's initiatives to highlight abuse, and the practical and prayerful support that is offered to families. It is hoped the exhibition can “provide a reminder that with timely help, many can escape from their abusive situations, rebuild their confidence and live in safety.”

Madeline says, “Domestic violence is not restricted to women being the recipient, they are just the majority: men are also susceptible. Children are affected by any domestic violence occurring in the home whether they are directly being abused or just aware that it is happening in the home.  

“The team in Scotland came up with the idea of using shoes to identify what happens mentally and emotionally when domestic violence occurs in secret.  Shoes accompanied by a simple statement of how the wearer felt when wearing those shoes, highlights the horrific impact of domestic abuse in a new way.  A smart eye-catching pair of shoes worn to work, would cover up the feeling of stupidity installed by the repetition of phrases used at home.  A tatty pair of worn-out shoes might be all a person was allowed to wear at home.”

Madeline will also be sharing the exhibition and it’s powerful message with members of Diocesan Synod in November.

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