Safe Berks ‘The Pictures of my Voice’ Exhibit celebrates survival, healing, courage and self-expression

Safe Berks opened its “Los Retratos de mi Voz” (The Pictures of my Voice), a Photo Voice Project, at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, in the Main Lobby.
Safe Berks opened its “Los Retratos de mi Voz” (The Pictures of my Voice), a Photo Voice Project, at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, in the Main Lobby. Submitted photo
Mayra Rodriguez, a participant in the Photo Voice Project, stands to the right of her photos, which portray her journey.
Mayra Rodriguez, a participant in the Photo Voice Project, stands to the right of her photos, which portray her journey. Submitted photo

Safe Berks recently celebrated the opening of “Los Retratos de mi Voz” (The Pictures of my Voice), a Photo Voice Project, at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, in the Main Lobby. This photo collection will be on display in the GoggleWorks through April 28. This exhibit is offered during April, in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This exhibit includes 24 powerful images created by Latina survivors of sexual violence. These artists used photography to capture and convey images about their individual experiences, and their community’s needs and strengths. This exhibit celebrates survival, healing, courage and self-expression.

Eight Latina women participated in the Photo Voice Project. They each received a digital camera, as well as photography instruction from Danielle Reardon, a professional photographer. They created photographs to express their struggles and their survival, and each chose three photos to exhibit.

In addition to the photography, the Photo Voice Project included weekly group meetings, facilitated by Safe Berks staff members including Mereliss Colon Ortiz, Director of Residential Services, and Aleida Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Residential Services, and Letty Vázquez-Pena and Nicole Avila, both Counselor/Advocates.

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During the meetings, the women shared their experiences and bonded with other Latina survivors. “It became a sisterhood,” said Mereliss Colon Ortiz. “They realized they were not alone.”

Safe Berks, formerly Berks Women in Crisis, was founded in 1976. Safe Berks provides services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Services include a Safe House for adults and children who are in danger, a 24-hour Hotline, individual and group counseling, legal services and advocacy, and educational programs. Our services are free, confidential, and available in English and Spanish.

The 24-Hour Hotline number is 844-789-SAFE, or text Safe Berks to 20121.

The Photo Voice Project was funded in 2016 by a grant of $34,631 from RALIANCE, a collaborative initiative dedicated to ending sexual violence in one generation. RALIANCE was founded by three sexual violence prevention organizations – the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

The goal of the project is to improve Safe Berks services for Latina survivors. The Photo Voice Project is a partnership of Safe Berks, Centro Hispano, and Berks Community Health Center. Christine A. Gilfillan, Safe Berks Chief Operating Officer, said the Photo Voice Project has been very successful.

“Safe Berks has consistently looked for ways to better serve sexual assault and domestic violence survivors in our large and still-growing Latino community,” said Gilfillan. “Internationally, Photo Voice has been shown to amplify and legitimize the voices of people whose voices are typically not heard. The survivors who participated in Los Retratos de mi Voz expressed an outpouring of positive feedback about the experience, and its impact on their processes of healing and empowerment.”