By Colin McGregor
For an hour and a half from the stage of Bistro Le St-Cath, Selena Fortier took her audience through a wide range of emotions, from laughter to sadness, from rage to tears, even including incomprehension.
And above all, there was humor as she recounted her two-year relationship with a man who abused her relentlessly, both psychologically and sexually.
“In a way that opens up dialogue,” she tells us, “I want to use humor to create a connection with the audience. I focus on recovery.” She believes that humor is “An excellent communication channel to play down the drama.” The title of her presentation: “Sublimate the Drama with Humour.”
This is a “pilot project” by this young psychology graduate. She describes herself as “activist and speaker.” She never uses the term “victim of domestic violence” to describe herself, because she wants to offer a face of domestic violence that is dynamic / happy / positive and focused on solutions.
“I want to tell people that I was able to get out. I speak openly about what I have been through so that the shame changes sides.”
The media, TV and the movies highlight physical violence, and “it took me a long time to identify what I was going through because what I suffered was psychological, sexual, social and verbal.”
Witnesses are important. She advises that “if you observe behavior that may lead you to believe that someone is suffering from domestic violence, phone SOS violence conjugale. You can also contact them by text, email or chat on their website at sosviolenceconjugale.ca. On the SOS website there is a self-assessment test.” The website as well as their phone service is bilingual (google SOS domestic violence).
One of the solutions that Selena proposes is to “offer compassion”.
Her presentation, sprinkled with music, props and recordings of her boyfriend’s voice (played by an actor), was made in front of a fairly mixed audience of men and women. “I find it very touching that the people who attended come from different backgrounds, and I find it important that it is for everyone.” She received a great reception from the audience present. “I was very touched because I saw that the audience was attentive, they were laughing, and afterwards I was able to gather their impressions.”
The objective is to go through all the roller coaster of emotions: “I wanted to present how I felt in this relationship… for me it was a person who I believed was the man of my life. I did not understand his lack of empathy towards me. When you are under someone’s psychological influence, it was so difficult to take a step back and understand what was happening to me when I was with him.”
“Every story of domestic violence starts with a love story, like in movies with Johnny Depp,” Selena points out. “After it starts, I tell myself that it can’t go on like this, it has to improve.”
And when she finally left him, it was “an accumulation of things.”
Selena adds: “I was able to do the pilot project thanks to Bistro Le St-Cath. How this room is laid out and the stage, it is ideal to communicate with the public and to take the pulse of the room. It is good for the community, the food is good, and you can feel the warm atmosphere. It’s the ideal atmosphere because it’s a show atmosphere and at the same time you feel close to the public. I recommend the Bistro for those who organize events. The team works with heart and it’s good to work with the team. When we organize an event, there is a technician who can be on site for sound and lighting.”
In addition, Selena won the Caisse Populaire Desjardins “We help you make your way” contest, which awarded her a $3,000 scholarship to help her mount her “showférence”, as she describes it, at the Longueuil city theatre. Her project was chosen from more than 180 applications. The award was given on the La semaine des 4 Julie TV show.
For that reason,Selena will be getting her stage show in her home city of Longueuil! It will be on March 18th at 1:30 pm. For tickets go to :
Photo : Philippe Le Bourdais
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