Domestic violence exhibit 'breaks the silence' Sept. 19

Sep 04, 2019
Photo by: Christina Wnek Patrisha McLean

AUGUSTA — Patrisha McLean’s multi-media exhibit on domestic abuse opens a three-month run at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in Augusta with a public reception on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 5  to 7 p.m.

"Finding Our Voices: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse" will be at the center on the University of Maine Augusta campus, 46 University Drive, from Sept. 16 through Dec. 13.

The exhibit is expanded from when it launched this winter in Camden and features photo portraits and audio recordings of 20 women speaking out about the domestic abuse in their lives, ranging in age from 19-year-old Sydney of Camden to 79-year-old Mary Lou of Scarborough, and including an architect, nurse, TV news anchor and corrections officer.

Melanie Leo-Daigle, owner of Fresh off the Farm natural grocery store in Rockport, is one of eight local women in the exhibit. “Customers have been very surprised that I hid it so well,” she said of the history of domestic abuse revealed in 'Finding Our Voices.' “And the amount of people who have come to the light from the exhibit for help and encouragement has been astounding!”

Patrisha, a photojournalist based in Camden, started this project after her ex-husband Don “American Pie” McLean’s very public arrest for domestic violence in 2016. “The breaking of the silence was like the breaking of the spell,” Patrisha said. “Women started whispering to me about the domestic abuse in their own lives, happening decades ago or still going on, and I realized I was far from alone.

“I also realized that the shame which is at the root of the silence is both misplaced and dangerous. I had previously used my camera and pen to destigmatize drug addicts and homeless people in our community. I added audio and turned to something very personal,” she said.

In July, Maine Magazine named Patrisha one of 50 “leaders creating a brighter future for Maine” in its annual 50 Mainers issue.

Since the exhibit launched at the Camden Public Library, it has toured community centers, art galleries and public libraries around the state and Patrisha has talked to Rotary clubs and school groups. She is about to start her second book club for women inmates at the Windham Prison around Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men,” which Patrisha says is the Bible for understanding domestic violence..

The exhibit is supported by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and the Maine Arts Commission.

For more information about the Finding Our Voices project or the Holocaust and Human Rights Center Augusta exhibit, visit

If you or anyone you know has experienced or is experiencing domestic abuse, call your local domestic abuse agency. New Hope For Women is in Rockland, and can be reached at 594-2128. Its 24-hour crisis hotline number is 800-522-3304.

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