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Womens Legal Victoria

Emotive filmmaking for a cause

In 2017, Commoner was engaged by Women's Legal Services Victoria (WLSV) to create a film that would safely tell the stories of the agency's clients and illustrates the vital work they provide in the community.

WLSV aids women escaping family violence to rebuild their lives, providing free legal advice and crucial information that can help women make informed decisions about their legal rights. The service assists around 3500 women every year and yet unfortunately, many of their clients are not in a position to tell their story in a safe way. The risk of reprisal attacks as well as restrictions under family law can make speaking out very difficult.

As part of our initial research we were given a glimpse into the stories of the women who WLSV had worked with in the past. All were shocking and deeply disturbing, but it was the aftermath of the violence that felt like an area which hadn't previously been explored.

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It's easy to assume that escaping the situation ends the trauma of family violence, but we learned through this collaboration that for many women it's just the beginning.

When women escape family violence they often continue to be subjected to physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse at the hands of their ex-partners. Often for years.

With WLSV we knew we had a responsibility to share the message that for many who separate from family violence, escape is not an easy option. Many women stay in abusive relationship longer due to a lack of avenues of support and knowledge of what options are available to them.

The story shared in the video is a real story, spoken by the woman affected. We then approached actor Susie Dee to act the part of the woman and deliver the performance so as to keep the woman's identity secret.

All cast, crew and post-production working on the project provided their time pro-bono to support the cause.

We think the end result is an emotive film that doesn't pull its punches, but clearly articulates the agencies position and key benefit.

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