Review: ‘Listen Up’ at the Art Hostel

To celebrate National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, Basis Yorkshire brings us ‘Listen UP’, an inspiring and thought-provoking exhibition about the journey of young people who have experienced sexual exploitation.

This interactive exhibition takes us on a journey of a sexually exploited young woman. We begin at the initial stage of the process which is resistance as a young person struggles to recognise the issue and ask for help. From there we move to the support stage. Basis provides 1 to 1 support for medium to high risk victims of sexual exploitation. It is here that the young people begin to realise that they are not at fault. The final stage is moving on, in which the young women begin to work in peer-led groups as Lionesses. They come to these groups in order to share a sense of belonging which is both empowering and life-changing.

‘Listen UP’ is powerful due to its use of real life experiences. The producers have drawn on things said by perpetrators as well the responses used by young people to justify this behaviour. The exhibition also features the thoughts of ex-service users on how to keep safe from sexual exploitation by advising people to use pre-booked cabs and to tell someone if they find themselves in trouble.

This input of the young women themselves in an important aspect of this exhibition. These ex-service users have used their experiences of sexual exploitation and the recovery process in order to help others who could be at risk of grooming. They helped to together the exhibition and co-produced a short film depicting their journeys from isolation to empowerment with Basis. It ends with a powerful message that sums up the entire campaign; ‘It’s not your fault, tell someone’

Anna Sutton

Image courtesy of Leeds Inspired 

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