Patrisha McLean | Photojournalist + Founder of Finding Our Voices: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse

After her ex-husband’s arrest for domestic abuse made worldwide news, Patrisha McLean was shocked when people all around—close friends and acquaintances—started whispering to her about the domestic abuse in their own lives. That is when she realized how widespread domestic violence is, and how much it affects women’s lives. “No one knows because no one talks about it,” she says. Now, McLean is using photography and audio to break the silence about domestic abuse in Maine. She has created a multimedia exhibition called Finding Our Voices: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse that features portraits of 21 women, from all over Maine, all ages, and all walks of life, along with audio of their voices telling their story of domestic abuse and their journey out of it. McLean, who serves as a board member of the Next Step Domestic Abuse Agency in Ellsworth and volunteers for the Knox County Homeless Coalition, is bringing her exhibition and panel discussions with domestic abuse survivors to libraries, art galleries, high schools, colleges, and prisons across the state. This fall the exhibition will be at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center in Augusta. She provides a platform for women to join her in speaking out about the domestic abuse in their lives for personal healing, to help other women, to educate communities, and to get accountability and justice. “Too many women are dying in Maine at the hands of their intimate partners,” she says. For the 29 years of McLean’s marriage, she was terrified of public speaking and kept a shield up with other women. Since her divorce, McLean says her friendships are deeper and more substantive. “I finally talk to women about things that matter to me, and us, and about things that are going on in our lives,” she says. “Enough of us speaking out will change the question from ‘Why does she stay?’ to ‘Why does he abuse?’”

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