Tessel ten Zweege

Activist, artist and writer

Dat zou jij nooit toelaten (Book, 2022)

During a city trip in London, Tessel meets Luis: a charming, confident brit who sweeps her off her feet and offers to move to Amsterdam for her. Soon after Luis’ charm fades and makes room for aggression, control and violence.
Tessel attempts to stay in tune with her life as a young student, founding her own feminist magazine. While she gets to know the world around her and her position as a woman in it, at home, she lives a less feminist reality. Her partner abuses her mentally and physically.

Intimate partner violence does not only happen within marriages. Young people, inexperienced in love, are exceptionally vulnerable. In this book Tessel doesn’t only share her own story, she provides information and resources to recognize, prevent and recover from partner violence.

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I’m an experienced writer in a variety of forms ranging from poetry to news articles, from fiction to opinion pieces. My articles have been published on VICE, het Parool and OneWorld among others, and usually touch on subjects like identity and social dilemma’s.

Illustrations

My illustration career took off when I founded feminist zine collective PISSWIFE in 2017, featuring my visual as well as my written work. Since founding and subsequently leaving the collective, my illustrations have been featured in Pornceptual, Opzij Magazine, VICE Media and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. One of my artworks was selected for De Grote Kunstkalender 2022.

Dat zou jij nooit toelaten (Documentary)

In 2018 I got out of an abusive relationship, though I never spoke about it until 2 years later. Talking about my experience with intimate partner violence was too triggering and uncomfortable for me up until that point: Having constructed a feminist identity and having a clear image of my values and goals did not match with my victimhood. This feeling reached a peak when my friend told me that she noticed my boyfriend behaved really aggressively towards me, and if she wouldn’t know any better, she would think he was abusing me. She added: “But you would never allow that.” I find this image of victimhood interesting initially because it had kept me quiet about my abusive partner for years, but as I delved deeper into my inquiry into victimhood, I found a complex construction of victimhood that resulted in silence amongst victims in many different situations. My documentary ‘Dat Zou Jij Nooit Toelaten’ explores shame, self-image, silence and victimhood through my own story and interviews I conducted with two other victims.

This work was made especially to be screened at the Bad Feminist Talks in de Melkweg on March 7th 2020. Because of the precarity of the subject, I asked both my interviewees to be as transparent and direct as possible regarding their wishes. One of the interviewees asked me to send her the scenes with her in it, so that she could publish it. The other one was less comfortable with making her experience public and asked me to delete her footage right after the screening for her safety. The trailer of my documentary is still public. After the screening of my first documentary, I spoke with two other victims of partner violence in a panel talk, to discuss the documentary and our feelings.