I have worked with women who were victims of domestic abuse and I noticed
a couple of recurring issues: power (of the abuser over the victim),
symbiosis (where the abuser and the victim become mutually dependent on
each other and on the cycle of abuse), and history (abusers and victims
often had been abused by one or both parents and/or watched their parents
perpetuate an abusive relationship).
The women who seek help here in Tucson have 3 shelters to turn to. Each
shelter used to show a film to the women, called: The Burning Bed (with
Farrah Fawcett). It's a true and realistic account of a woman who had
endured an abusive relationship for years and eventually lashed out by
killing her husband. The case went to court and I believe she was
acquitted of murder on the defense that she had acted in self-defence. It
was apparently a landmark case for victims of victims of abuse. The movie
addressed many issues that you brought up in your October 15 transmissions
and might be worth looking for at a local video store. After viewing the
film with women in the shelter, the counselor would often open the floor
to discussion of the issues raised, images that were evoked, draw
comparisons and contrasts with their own situations, etc.
I would continue to focus artwork by women, since as Chad mentioned, 95%
of reported cases involve the abuse of a woman. Perhaps someone browsing
this site would know how to reach Barbara Kruger, who might have some
addtional comments or names of artists who depict victimization, domestic
violence, or the roles of power, symbiosis, and history.
By the way, even when a woman seeks help and acknowledges the cycle of
abuse that she is a part of, it doesn't get easier to leave. I met
several women who had fled from their "intimate" more than a dozen times,
received counseling and shelter for extended periods of time, only to
return to the original "intimate" or become involved with another man who
is an abuser. The cycle is incredibly powerful and extremely difficult to
break. Art from a former victim would be awesome. You might contact your
local shelters for domestic violence (most major cities have several) and
inquire about that possibility.
Good luck! Sounds like a neat project.