Real Life

A domestic violence survivor explains the importance of a hot meal to an abused woman

“I’m 5ft 11in and I only weighed 52 kilos. I was very unhealthy, from the sheer stress and strain.”

By Kate Wagner
When Felicity Cook was 19-years-old, she left her parents Blue Mountains home and made the big move to Sydney to live with her partner, but no one realised the pain that was to come.
Over their three year relationship, Felicity’s ex-partner abused her physically, emotionally and socially, telling her “no one else was kind enough to want me; he was doing me a service.”
“I was doing a TAFE course and he would tear up my assignments, abuse our pets and throw away any meals I made,” she explained.
WATCH: Angelina Jolie's emotional speech on the effects of sexual violence.
When she finally got out of the relationship, her ex continued to stalk her. He would call obsessively, on one occasion 86 times in two hours, as well as call her relatives and police saying she was threatening suicide.
When Felicity felt strong enough to rent her own apartment, he found her and climbed on to the balcony to try and talk.It was a terrifying time and Felicity put looking after herself last. She was so malnourished she had dental problems and was wasting away.
“I’m 5ft 11in and I only weighed 52 kilos. I was very unhealthy, from the sheer stress and strain. I wasn’t exercising.”
Although she eventually broke free completely, the damage wasn’t done.
“I felt quite alone and it took time for me to find myself,” she disclosed to Now To Love.
“I went on my own journey of destruction and self-loathing.”
In Felicity’s case, and many others, the importance of a hot meal from someone whose only motivation is extending a helping hand is invaluable.
“When you’ve spent so long being broken down by someone, having them tell you that you don’t matter, even though they’re really the one inflicting the pain, the little things make a huge difference,” she told Now To Love.
That’s why she decided to dedicate her likeness to a huge masterpiece to help Two Good, American Express and Deliveroo deliver 20,000 hot meals to women in refuges.
“The campaign really touched my heart because for so long you’re told that you’re undeserving, that no one else cares,” she explained. “Then you have someone who’s cooked you a hot meal and they don’t expect anything in return.”
Two Good is an Australian charity founded by engineers Rob Caslick and Cathal Flaherty which uses the “Buy One, Give One” model to feed the homeless and less fortunate. In order to feed 20,000 women, the boys have teamed up with American Express so that anyone who buys a meal from Deliveroo with an Amex card will also be buying a meal for a woman in need.
The companies will be delivering food to women and children when they’re fragile, scared and unsure of what’s on the other side.
“These women fear becoming just another number, a statistic and now someone cares,” Felicity explained.
“They cared enough to cook for you, to deliver it, to be with you in some way – and there’s no strings attached.”
20,000 meals sounds pretty impressive, right? It looks even more impressive when it’s translated to 20,000 jar lids painted by hand to depict Felicity’s face, serving as a tribute to the many faces affected by domestic violence.
American Express commissioned artist and psychotherapist Noula Diamantopoulosto make the monster piece.
“It’s definitely been a labour of love,” Noula laughingly told Now To Love.
“I’ve worked for the last three weeks, 21 consecutive days with a whole team painting the lids grey-scale.”
The different size lids were crucial to the design. They gave the mural movement and volume, ensuring it was just a living piece like the women it depicted.
For Noula, it was important the mural showed the dignity and stance of Felicity rather than beauty.
“It’s not about being pretty, it’s about stripping it all back,” she explained. “It’s about being raw; showing the human element.”
Noula said the immensity of the artwork wasn't lost on anyone involved.
"We all became really emotional when we started to wonder what Felicity will think of the mural, she hasn't seen it yet," Noula said.
"I know that trauma traps you," she added.
"I don't know the right words to describe how complex and important the project is - it's overwhelming."