"Lay Down Your Life", The Cost of Freedom
I had the great honor to collaborate with Liysa Swart, photographer and activist, on a video project telling her story of domestic violence, incarceration and activism.
On October 9th, 2000 Liysa Swart shot and killed her husband Chris Northon after 4 years of abuse. She spent 12 years in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, OR. She was released in October 2012. She is speaking out against domestic violence, the limitations of Oregon laws and the marginalization of victims.
Please watch the video here
I have learned so much during the past four months working with Liysa and with Louise Bauschard, LCSW, about domestic violence, about the realities of women in abusive relationships and about the lack of compassion in our legal system.
I have also learned a lot about journalism and about my ethics as a journalist wanting to report to bring about social change. The level of collaboration I reached with Liysa and Louise empowered me and allowed for the creation of a piece that represents their voice accurately. I believe that our collaboration was an exchange of expertise. We all brought something to the table that fed our energy and motivation.
Collaboration, in my opinion, is the way to go when wanting to share with the audience true stories. I am not an expert about domestic violence. I have never experienced domestic violence. I have not lived through what Liysa has experienced. I can read all the books I want about it or watch a million films and speak to billions of women who have experienced it, I still would not have experienced domestic violence and therefore I would not feel that I can take the position of an expert in the topic.
Of course, there are ways that a journalist can report on issues that She has not experienced, and still produce a fair, accurate and compassionate piece. However, through collaboration, I believe that something else happens. A trust is built, and a partnership is born. I never considered Liysa "my subject" or "my source". Liysa was my associate, an integral part of the production process. She brought her life expertise, I brought my video production skills. Together we created "Lay Down Your Life", The Cost of Freedom.