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Arts / New play to raise awareness of coercive control

AN ORIGINAL audio play exploring the impact of coercive control on a family – which had creative input from survivors of domestic abuse – is set to be performed in Lerwick next month.

Pollyanna Paradox is written by local playwright Stephenie Georgia of ALICE Theatre Group in collaboration with Shetland Women’s Aid, the Compass Centre and the Shetland Domestic Abuse Partnership.

It will be launched at the start of the ’16 days of activism’ global campaign to eradicate violence against women.

The live reading of the audio play will be held at Mareel in Lerwick on 25 November, with tickets free.

The play, which centres around a survivor of domestic abuse, will also be broadcast on BBC Radio Shetland on 1 December.

Coercive control is a purposeful and sustained pattern of behaviour whereby one person within the relationship seeks to exert power, control, or coercion over another.

A range of tactics are used such as isolating the partner from sources of support and social interaction, exploiting their resources (financial and emotional), depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Shetland Women’s Aid service manager Laura Stronach said: “Supporting women is at the very heart of what we do.

“We are very excited to have worked in collaboration with local partners to support this production and to give survivors a platform, a voice to participate in this fantastic project.

“We hope that the local community can come along and watch this very real experience that happens for so many women.”

The Compass Centre’s Lisa Ward added: “Aspects of coercive control are often portrayed as something that occur in all intimate relationships. We are regularly exposed to ‘love’ stories where someone attempts to control different aspects of their partner’s behaviour – from clothing to finances to relationships with friends and family – and this is portrayed as romantic and endearing.

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“Pollyanna Paradox provides a powerful pushback to these ideas and explores the harmful reality beneath the surface and how these behaviours are the tip of the iceberg that leads many women, and also some men and people of other marginalised genders, to seek help from services such as Shetland Women’s Aid and The Compass Centre.”

Meanwhile Stephenie Georgia, of the ALICE Theatre Project, said: “The bravery and generosity shown by the collaborators on the project in sharing their experiences with me is a testament to their strength. I am in awe.

“I believe theatre is an art form which can provoke debate, challenge perceptions, and make change happen and I believe this play will be no exception. I hope the Shetland community will join us and be part of that change.”

Following the play, the audience will be welcome to join a panel of local experts for a Q&A session.

The play is recommended for ages 13 plus, and it includes potentially upsetting themes with references to domestic abuse including coercive control, physical and sexual violence.

People can phone Shetland Women’s Aid on 01595 692070, email or contact the charity through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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