‘I am more than the violence I survive’: Reflections from the Policing Family Violence Storytelling Project — Lauren Caulfield


Family violence responses that centre policing often replicate and reinforce the power and control dynamics of gender-based violence. The Policing Family Violence Storytelling Project works at the intersection of gender-based violence and state-sanctioned violence, where the harms of family and domestic violence interact with and are compounded by the harms of policing. The storytelling project integrates individual narrative therapy, collective narrative
practice and community organising to centre the insider knowledges of survivors of violence. It views the communities in which violence occurs as uniquely equipped for and invested in creative responses to harm. People who have lived with violence have significant expertise in the dynamics of violence, responding to risk and harm, and surviving systems that may reinforce or amplify the violence, punishing the very tactics people use to survive. This paper describes practices used to elicit survivors’ stories beyond the limited imperative of evidence gathering for legal processes. It also shows how these stories are used to guide and inform social action, including intervening in popular narratives that seek to make state responses synonymous with ‘safety’, and fail to recognise both the harms of these and the myriad strategies people experiencing violence use to survive.