The mandate of Memorial University’s student residences’ Mental Health Awareness committee is, in part, to provide an open platform for mental health awareness, with the primary aim of reducing stigma. Domestic abuse is a topic that can affect people of all genders, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, age groups, and socioeconomic classes, some moreso than others. Although there exist a number of intersecting factors that can make mental health issues more likely to occur, some factors present a greater risk than others. Emmy Cauz of The Muse asked clinical psychologist—and Memorial University professor—Julie Gosselin to comment.
During a phone interview, Gosselin commented on the particular importance of inter-generational and gender socialization factors on the likelihood of abuse between intimate partners. “Exposure to domestic violence during childhood is a fairly prevalent indicator for its renewed expression in adulthood. For example, childhood exposure can translate in a response to romantic violence that condones it by assuming it is a normal part of adult intimate relationships where people may think that: ‘it’s not their fault,’ or ‘they didn’t mean to do it.’” Lastly, Gosselin noted the importance of gender socialization on intimate partner violence.
As one means of bringing an otherwise private matter to light, New Brunswick musician Mike Bochoff makes this serious issue accessible to youth audiences in his cartoon-esque music video about domestic abuse “Everything Burns.” The Muse spoke with the musician to learn more.
Cauz: When I first saw your music video for “Everything Burns” I felt compelled to share it with a larger audience. Countless studies point to how events that occur in our childhood continue to bear on our interpersonal skills and sense of self throughout adulthood. In recent years, the terminology has shifted towards the language of “mental health” which effectively highlights the larger societal and shared matter that has cross-culturally and historically often been relegated to the individual psyche. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this song, and to craft your music video with childhood friendly colors, Play-Doh, and other decor?
Bochoff: We all know people who’ ve been affected by domestic abuse in some way, and I felt like it was a subject worth writing about. I didn’t expect the song to take the route that it did as it was being written to be honest, but as the story unfolded, it became a (slightly morbid) tale of hope rather than one of despair. The music video really brought it to life, too. The colourful backdrops and using marionettes to portray the characters was a way to give it that ‘cartoonish’ quality, whereas real actors might have made it too raw. I’ve received some mixed reactions from the video over the years but if it provokes discussion, then it’s done its job.
Cauz: Because you are a musician, you have a key role in “making the personal political.” How do you plan to continue engaging your musical talents towards mental health initiatives?
Bochoff: I try to lend my efforts in any way I can. Myself and a number of my musician friends have done benefit shows to raise awareness and money for domestic abuse victims as well as other mental health initiatives over the years. The opportunity to make a music video like “Everything Burns” is one I certainly don’t take for granted; I’m grateful that the song and the video has reached different corners of the country and engaged people the way it has.
Cauz: Although I can’t speak on behalf of all of MUN and St. John’s, Newfoundland, I know that I would be happy to welcome you to perform here. I’ve quickly come to notice some of the rich musical talent students at this university have to offer during the residence talent show held in September. In terms of the momentum you’ve been building in your musical career as it aligns with your other responsibilities and life goals can you foresee the possibility of playing a show at a future Memorial gathering of sorts?
Bochoff: Absolutely! I’d love to. We’re in the middle of recording a new album so hopefully we’ll make it to Newfoundland in support of that in the New Year sometime.