Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits


A GIFT OF HEALING & UNDERSTANDING
FOR ALLIES

  For Partners, Friends, Parents, and Children of Survivors
  The Challenge to Find Understanding
  Help with Building Relationships
  Shame, Worthlessness and Isolation
  Assisting with the Stages of Disclosure and Understanding
 

 

HEALING AND UNDERSTANDING FOR PARTNERS, FRIENDS,
PARENTS AND CHILDREN OF
CHILD ABUSE SURVIVORS

Visiting the "Reaching Out" Monument or sharing in pictures of the quilt squares and poetry from the project through a book or over the Internet can be an opportunity for partners and close friends to have a natural means of discussing abuse issues and gaining further understanding of the survivor's experience. Dorothy found,

"The monument has given me an outlet to share my abuse with people that I need to share with. It has also given me pride and strength in numbers".

The validation and victory of collaboration can remove some of the shame that is so often a roadblock to openly discussing a tragedy that happened to someone when they were merely an innocent child. Supporting a survivor can take its toll in the dark days and misdirected projections.

It is important for allies to get acknowledgment for their assistance and presence. They have gone through their own unique hell that is reserved for those who have no choice but to suffer the witnessing of the turmoil of their loved ones.

The "Reaching Out" Monument is equally a memorial to the allies of survivors. Our society owes them, along with the magnificent, courageous survivor/artists who created this work of art, a great debt of gratitude.

 

I see around me beauty
I see around me brokeness
What is the wisdom,
the miracle –
that transforms
brokeness into wholeness?
It is you
In you I found life
In you I found love
In you I found
myself.

Maria P.

 

 

Heaven Sent

Here you see my hand outstretched.
In my heart, it is clenched --
For I am fighting back.
Damn all of you!
For the pain you caused me to endure.
For the pain that has been inflicted on the one I love.

You stole my childhood,
You broke my heart,
You took my innocence.
You were the ones that should have loved me.
Yet, you are my worst enemies.

You have been my sanity,
You have been my lifesaver,
You have been my miracle,
You have been heaven sent;
You are my husband and
I will always love you.

Dorothy

 

 


A Vessel for Identification
and Reflection:

The creative work of artists provides
a vessel within which individuals in
the group place their conflicts.
This projective identification allows
the observer of art to participate
in the transformative properties
of the deep expressive process
of survivor/artists.

This personal and social healing
power of art offers individuals
and society a means to come
to terms with child abuse.

 


Getting On

My anger and tears
Part of my past
Getting on with life

Flowering
Confident
Content
Love

Not in the past

Rhonda


Broken By Abuse, Healed By Love

A child, full of pain and suffering
from crushing words and violent beatings
finds brief escape under a starlight sky.
For her, the night sky looks as though
God has asked everyone in heaven
to turn the lights on in their rooms|
to let her know she is loved and not alone,
even though what happens to her at home
makes her feel very unloved and very alone.
Years later,
people and places have come into her life
bringing love and healing,
just as the stars brought comfort
with the Love that had created both
the girl and the stars years ago.
To this day,
the night sky appears to her
like a giant blanket of stars placed over her
by the love of God.

Dawn

 



The quilt squares contain powerful stories that help with creating a understanding between ally and survivor.

 


After the Flood

I take a tentative step forward, then two.
There is no one to stop me
no one watching me
no one threatening me
no one controlling me.
I can run and laugh and shout and dance
and no one punishes me.
I step forward out of the wreckage
and close the door firmly behind me...

Jacquelyn

 

 

I Embrace My Innocence

I have gratitude for the presence
The knowing of self
The stepping forward, nurtured
by all this energy
The knowledge and experience of abuse is
Present but not defining.
The gift of presence in this world
creates freedom in my heart and breath
To move through and beyond
the pain to have hope.
Drawing from this core
I can realize my dream
I can nurture and comfort
I am not barren.
I am not alone.

Kim.

 

 


Together - To Stephen

To life, to Life, L'Chaim
Together we'll rid ourselves of the pain, anger, frustration

Together we'll get past the tears
Together we'll find joy in nature
Together our spirits will soar
Together nature, with its kindness, will lead us to the serenity
I've searched for.

Together, with your support, we'll find the jot, peace and tranquility
The spirit, the sun, the water, our togetherness will bring the vision,
beauty and knowledge
To defeat the anger

To Life, to Life, L'Chaim
Together we'll meet the challenge
Without your love I wouldn't get to love myself
To Life, To Life, L'Chaim

S.

 

 

The Challenge to Find Understanding

Friends, family or partners of survivors grapple with understanding the abuse experience -- past and present. The incomprehensibility of sexual assault on a child, the years of secrecy surrounding the abuse, the limitations of verbal language and the very places where trauma is processed and stored in the brain all work together to make child abuse difficult to address with words. It is in fact a sign of our goodness that it not possible for most people to easily accept, acknowledge and comprehend child abuse, particularly to the degree in which it is being reported.

Allies of survivors want to at least have a grasp of the inner world of someone close to them. They want to show care and soothe the suffering. When the survivor cannot find all the words to tell allies what it was like to have lived with abuse, they are at a greater loss to help someone else understand.

Without understanding and support, ongoing relationships can deteriorate with the survivor suffering increased damage as a result of injury inflicted while they were an innocent child. One survivor relates,

"Prior to remembering everything I was an extremely sociable individual. I slowly withdrew from my friends because, although they tried, they did not really understand."

If her friends had had a means to assist with understanding, this survivor may have had friends who developed into allies.

Through the Monument artist/survivors and their allies are presented with the extraordinary resiliency of the human spirit. The squares on the Monument are not "in your face" rage and horror pictures of abuse. They are the deep core and soul of the survivors.

Though some squares refer to sad or tragic events, they all shine with the brilliance of victory. The squares of the Monument are filled with compassion, altruism, the desire to help others understand and a drive to make the world a better place.

 

 

Help with Building Relationship
The quilt squares provide a safe medium to share the depth of the pain and the breadth of the healing. Issues and life experience that have been difficult to talk about seem to come out almost casually. One survivor said the monument,

"Brought me closer to explanations of feelings to my partner of how deep the pain goes and how much I've grown." Matt found, "It has given me another tool/opportunity to speak to others about abuse and show them something positive that came out of it."

The Monument brings out the victories and strengths that are more fluid bridges to build relationships through.

A survivor who had not participated in working on the Monument found viewing the quilt squares with her husband was, "Empowering and very healing." Her husband said, "It allowed us to talk about things that are hard to comprehend, much less find words for." Most people care and want to respond to this issue, but do know how or where to respond.

The project has been widely sponsored by businesses and community groups. Survivors who see the lengthy list of supporters here receive a clear and direct message that they are not alone, they have nothing to be ashamed of and they are not worthless.

Survivors who may have hidden their abuse for decades can see a concrete representation of social voice of validation and inclusion. As a result negative feelings can dissolve or be reframed in a manner that may not have occurred by psychotherapy alone.

Whether it's through the Monument, the media, documentaries or individuals telling their stories, the social acknowledgment and validation of child abuse helps to release some of the protectiveness and distancing that resulted from abuse. Sylvia was struck by, "The reality that there are people who care, people who don't even know me care."

An increased sense of self acceptance leads to a greater acceptance of others. One survivor working on the Monument affirmed, "I'm much more accepting of other people's advice and opinions." This kind of change in perception and attitude can do much for deepening a relationship that may have been previously volatile from defensive or closed off feelings.

Survivors and their allies can take advantage of these openings and plateaus to renegotiate patterns in the relationship.

 

 

Shame, Worthlessness and Isolation

Three primary wounds of child abuse are a sense of shame, worthlessness and isolation. Because of the nature of the abuse they are experienced in a highly social nature.

Broken trust becomes a constant wedge with others. The internal conflicts of abuse create havoc in relationships with others. Abuse can make one feel like they are wrong, bad or unworthy of relationship with others.

Seeing and hearing the supportive and positive responses of others can greatly impact the shame, worthlessness and other negative and crippling feelings and perceptions that are a legacy of abuse. One survivor wrote,

"Whenever I've shown my quilt square, even unfinished, to others, they have all expressed wonder and awe at the powerful impact the square evokes in them. A feeling of empathy and respect.

The experience for me, especially in relationship to non-survivors, validates and embraces the quality of pride and victory I feel over the sexual abuse trauma in my childhood and in the healing I've achieved through a long and arduous period of psychotherapy."

The degree of interest and support is surprising to many survivors. The strong positive response of others helped Jacquelyn, "To see in a much deeper way how horrified decent, caring people are about child abuse." Outside encouragement and feedback assists the healing process and helps with reconnecting the survivor to others.

Social action activity can have a dramatic impact on a survivor's self image in relation to others. As one quilt square artist shared,

"I felt that my experience and my person could never be any encouragement to anyone."

However, after involvement in the project,

"I felt a bit more comfortable with people, and at times believed that I was 'Helping' someone."

She went on to write,

"I wanted it to help me let go of some of the shame, and especially the secrecy. It helped me Be Silent - No More!"

Many survivors who become involved in social activities find dramatic changes occur with the shame and secrecy they have carried for so many years. The increased self acceptance in turn has an impact on their personal relationship with allies.

 

 

Assisting with the Stages of Disclosure and Understanding

Quilt squares provide a way of communicating in a more acceptable, easier form. Though survivors want to be able to tell the truth to their allies, that truth often needs to be told in stages, for the sake of both. One survivor told her grown son "I'm doing a project about child sexual abuse," instead of talking about herself. She found it less threatening and easier for both of them to talk about a social initiative.

Survivors have brought friends or close work colleagues to view the Monument without directly disclosing their abuse history. Similarly, survivors may share a newspaper article, book or story as a way of testing the water or telling without telling.

Clients have used the Monument to bring their therapists and therapists have used the Monument to have discussions with clients.

To create greater understanding teachers have brought their classrooms, politicians have brought other politicians, social workers other social workers, ministers, police, doctors and other professionals have brought colleagues to view the Monument to bring about greater understanding.

In her experiences of reaching out to the community Rebecca says, "It has shown me that there are a lot of good people out there." Rebecca shared that she was able to be more real and trusting due to "people's donations for our workshop. I have also had many people that I hardly know come and offer me support. I have had a lot of validation for my feelings of hope."

It is important to know that others in the community care and are willing to reach out and respond. The care and acceptance are valuable lessons for survivors who certainly felt no one cared during and after the abuse.

There is a great need to come to terms with this tragedy. Artistic expression in the public domain is likely going to be integral in assisting the community at large to come to terms with the abuse of children and move beyond this malignancy.

Society can take advantage of the cross-cultural and historical phenomena of groups of people healing and transforming through the creative act of art.

 

Faceless People

Faceless people, frightening figures, ghostlike creatures will remain,
In the deepest, darkest, innermost regions of my brain.
In vain, I've tried to eradicate them,
But they stubbornly continue to be a problem.
Up and awake is the only known way,
To keep them from bothering me, so the entire night becomes day.

How long will this last! How long can I fight!
I'm tiring rapidly and the end is not in sight!

Panicking, panicking, panicking greatly,
Is what I've been doing an immense deal of lately.
I'm beginning to wonder if ever an end there will be,
These nightmares plague me constantly, will I ever be free!
Exhaustion becomes paramount, insipidly doubt is able to creep,
Right into my soul, so I dare not sleep!
I don't even care who they are anymore,
I can't imagine it being worse than what I've remembered before!

There's no-one I entirely trust, there's nowhere to go,
It's as if I am trapped in some crazy freak show.
I no longer care to decipher what this is about,
All I want is a licence to GET THE HELL OUT!
Entangled and cornered by family and few friends that are giving,
Who continue to tell me that life is worth living.
I must ask the question, "Worth living" for who?
It certainly isn't for me, perhaps I can do it for you.

My son and my daughter and my husband as well,
Deserve better than me and my moods from this agonizing hell.
I've tried and I've tried to get out of this mess,
I'm exceedingly tired of trying, death is tempting, I confess.
But this, I am told, cannot be a choice,

My family is important and must have a voice.
It is a difficult task to be in this place of grieving,
However, it is incredibly selfish to even think of leaving!
Of this, I keep reminding myself for all,
To stay focussed on family, both adult and the small,
I must endeavour to continue to cope,
Perhaps down the road, for me, there will be hope.

Hope for a brighter and sunnier tomorrow,
A time when I'll not be so full of sorrow.
How will I manage? I really don't know,
I suppose one day at a time, is the best way to go.

Tana

 

 

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My husband was an
abused child.
The profound effects
on our family have
created problems,
but the cyle stopped.

 

 

 


Love
Endures

 

 

 


Hands should bring
someone close to you
not push them away.
Hands are for holding,
not for hurting.
Darlene

 

 

 


together we are stronger
than along
Bruce and Austin

 

 

 


My friends are nice.

 

 

 


Friends last forever,
help those who have
none.
Believe in yourself
and have everyting.
A little light
goes a long way
for those who don’t feel
loved inside!
Family is everlasting
even if it’s not your
real parents.
Everyone has someone
special.
Help those who don’t
know how!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Always know
you are loved!
Chris and Eric

 

 

 


I'm so proud of you.
Debbie

 

 

 


Together we can make
a difference and
Heal our hearts.
Heather

 

 

 


We have to be nice
to people and
make them happy.
Wen people are crying
I could cheer them up.

 

 

Make sure
your hand
of support

will be inside
the Monument!

 

 


It’s nice to have a
colorful hand.

 

 

 


Be a friend.
Give a hand.

 

 

 


Hands for help.

 

 

 


It is not an easy
thing to live.
Let's work together
to stop ABUSE!
Kimberly

 

 

 


All our precious children
deserve to feel safe
and loved.
Barb

 

 

 


Be yourself and
trust in yourself.
Vicky


- Home


*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)


Your Donations are Needed
to Bring the Child Abuse Monument Home from the Foundry

* Donations *
* Story of the Monument/Phases of the Project * Phase 1: Design * Phase II: Create * Phase III: Implement * Phase IV:Positioning *
* Monument Overview * Monument Project Organization * Project Story - Flash Movie *
* A Healing Monument * Monument as Social Action * A Gift for Allies in Healing *
* Artistic Director: Michael C. Irving, Ph.D. * Assisting Sculptors * Studio Visits *
* Monument Conception/Creation * Monument Sculpting * Casting the Bronze *
* Quilt Square Workshop Participants *
Heroes of the Monument * Facing Challenges * Monument Lessons * Monument Stories
* Self Care Activities for Survivors * Well Being * Creating Coping Lists * Meditation Gallery *
* Information on Child Abuse
* Types of Abuse * Impacts of Abuse * Responses to Abuse *
* Resource Links on Child Abuse *
* Survivor Monument Poetry and Quilt Square Books *
* Awareness Campaign * Research Forum * Cambridge Tour * DAS School *
*
Contribute a HandPrint Message for Placement Inside the Child Abuse Monument *
* Sponsorship as Healing * Sponsors * Local Sponsors * Unveiling *


*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)