Quilt number four violence against women and girls – domestic violence

For quilt number four I decided as a starting point to focus on violence against women. I am well aware that men are also victims of violence in all societies but this is a focus on violence against women. From my reading on the topic and professional experience in my day job I do believe that the gender inequality in our society is both a root cause and a consequence of violence against women because of their gender.

As I started exploring the topic and thinking about quilt design I decided that there were too many types of violence against women and girls to try and do them all justice in one wall quilt  (have a look at the End Violence Against Women website here’s the link EVAW )  So, I’ve decided that I will do a series of quilts focusing on violence against women and girls, each quilt having a specific theme.

The first of the series is on the theme of domestic violence also described as intimate partner violence. Refuge (who opened the world’s first safe house for women and children escaping domestic violence in 1971 Chiswick, London) define domestic violence “as the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual ”  It shouldn’t need saying but again I am well aware that men are also victims of domestic violence and that women can be perpetrators of domestic violence. However, the statistics show that in most cases it is women who are abused. The Refuge website has lots of useful information and facts here’s the link to information about domestic violence and gender

In my reading around on the topic I came across a World Health Organisation briefing It covers sexual violence as well as domestic violence. The paper clearly demonstrates that it is a world wide issue with 30%, almost a third of women worldwide, who have been in a relationship experiencing physical and / or sexual violence by their partner. Globally 38% of all murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.

The World Health Organisation also makes the point that domestic violence is a public health issue and has lasting repercussions for the victims, perpetrators, their families and society as a whole. The paper also explores some of the risk factors for domestic violence, social and economic costs.

Reading all those statistics can make you feel pretty negative but there are ways to tackle domestic violence. For me it seems clear that the first step is to accept that the causes of domestic violence are wider than the individuals involved and that stopping it means making a change in society. The Word Health Organisation paper summarizes the evidence based approach as

To enact legislation and develop policies that:

  • address discrimination against women
  • promote gender equality;
  • support women; and
  • help to move towards more peaceful cultural norms ”

So, how did all that information feed into my quilt design ? I started thinking about the fact that domestic violence has been part of our society going back to at least Roman times when, according to Roman law, a man could beat, divorce or murder his wife for offences committed by her, which besmirched his honour or threatened his property rights.

I wanted to reflect the long standing history of domestic violence in our society and make people think about the women who have suffered domestic violence in the past and those for whom it is a very current issue. To achieve this I decided to use some pieces of antique Welsh quilts dating from 1880 – 1930. I sourced these from the Welsh Quilt Centre I don’t know anything about the makers of these quilt pieces but statistically they were most likely to be women and at least some of them are likely to have experienced or witnessed domestic violence based on what we know about the prevalence of domestic violence throughout history.

I was a bit concerned that the different wadding and fabrics used in the quilt pieces might make it hard to sew them together but my trusty vintage Bernina sewing macine coped well. I decided on a rough log cabin patchwork block. I loved looking at the stitching on each piece and the fact that the fabric on some was so worn you could see the wadding. Here’s a picture with some close ups.


I don’t want to cover the quilting on the antique quilt pieces with my embroidery so I decided to add a border using some Chambray fabric from my stash. I did some simple quilting with my sewing machine, using invisible thread to give a more vintage look.

Here it is with the border added


I’m planning on keeping the embroidery quite simple. I want to include some worldwide statistics and also something about how we, as a society can make progress in ending domestic violence. Maybe also the following statement from Refuge

”If  you are forced to alter your behaviour because you are frightened of your partner’s reaction, you are being abused”

And finally everyone should be aware that in the UK there is a 24 hour national domestic violence helpline 0808 2000 247

and from Refuge how to keep safe and get help


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