Under the greatest of
adversity -- the best of humanity arises. During war
and catastrophe people step forward with a greater
degree of resourcefulness and effort. Their selfless
commitment to others reaches heroic proportions. In
myth and legend throughout the world and throughout
history heroes gain their lessons of strength and
wisdom from confronting the lair or desert of adversity.
The venturer returns from the hero's journey with
strengths and wisdom that remain the essence of the
spirit of the hero and are of benefit to others.
Sexual abuse is a tragic adversity
inflicted on innocent children. It wounds with long-lasting
consequences. It also demands a child find some
place inside to be strong -- extra effort in order
to cope and survive. All abused children have to
bring forward in themselves strengths and resiliencies
of heroic proportions. Just to survive and go on
is a heroic feat.
Searching for the images
messages to create a quilt square
was a hero's journey as each participant
confronted inner demons of long ago.
Let the Body
Sun-dogged mornings, biting
in Northern Minnesota.
Frost on the young men's whiskers,
This was us, we were young.
The mare, Kate, the huge
that Charley bought from Olaf,
(Sly devil that he was, for all our
labour - he sold us a horse with
bowed front legs.)
But in the early mornings, her
bowed legs, her
She pranced in the lines, glad to be alive
And eager to get to work.
My own body - reclaimed.
Not sagged under the weight of denial.
This is what happened,
And also _____
Turned to Stone
The pain is too large
It radiates in my bones
The darkness is so deep
I'm curled up all alone
I long to see the sun
To heal and warm my pain
I'd even settle for clouds
or sheets of pouring rain
In this dark cold room
Where all my hope is lost
I sit so very still
Knowing this has a cost
Slowly the door opens
A shaft of sunlight comes in
Hesitantly I crawl out
Now my healing can begin
In plaster, wood and wax
I lay my broken life down
Realizing with each small step
I've finally come into my own
Only Five Not Alive
Only five -not alive.
Made me cry - want to die.
A black hole without light.
Will I give up this fight?
How many years to go to peace?
Will I be alive?
Speaking of the abuse
of children over the twentieth century Charles L.
"About 50,000 names are etched into the Vietnam
War Memorial. If we made a memorial to children who
have been sexually abused, it would be more than 1300
times the size of the Vietnam memorial. If we included
other forms of child abuse it would be more than 7500
times its size. But these are souls lost in a betrayal
and wounding that is so deep that most are unable
to heal and reconnect with self, others and God without
A child's contribution to the
monument declares, "Child abuse
will die like many of its victims".
There is Hope
sifting though my hands
drizzling onto the sand
becoming an ever-changing
perception of my life or lives.
My life, which conjuncts so often
and so closely with the lives of others
the many lives I've seen and heard tell of
point to one thing
an unnecessary tragedy of existence
which must stop.
And there is hope now that it can stop
If we can continue to all listen
and change and help where we can.
Then it will finally not have been in vain
all of this suffering, we will suffer for our children
That our children won't suffer
And we will finally grow.
These eyes which look
out of my face, which have seen much, are the only
part of me which exists in this world. The rest of
me, in my entirety, languishes in another galaxy.
However full and rich that place may be, it has been
so very solitary, unshared.
How can I help?
I want to leave my personal mark.
Is it possible with this rough raw clump
I call myself?
Wounds are to register in this image.
Hacking life in a mold with cuts and abrasions.
I hear the scream to break the silence
And feel the connection in my fingertips.
Listening has been my venue to release this form.
My pain gives it the lines and the textured detail.
This is my art, my venue.
Reaching out to smooth and polish
What I call my soul.
When I Was Lost
When I was lost in dark despair
down in the dead of night,
from deep within my soul cried out,
and bitter was the night.
I dreamed I saw a little child
who knew the Way within.
He drew me by his innocence,
so pure, pristine and good.
When all was dark and I was blind
still he perceived the Light.
He held my hand till I beheld
the beauty, truth and light.
And when I strayed he waited there
until I found myself.
Stay with me gentle, spirit guide
along the Sacred Way.
ONLY DID WHAT I HAD TO DO"
Like all heroes, the child
abuse survivor is humble to the coat of "hero"
and will cast off their well earned title of hero.
Typically the hero will say, "I was there,
I simply did what I had to do. What anyone would
have done." The reality is the hero has come
face to face with adversity and has been forced
to call forward a special essence of the soul.
The child abuse survivor most often has had to face
the tragic demon of the perpetrator on many occasions.
The confrontation with adversity is many fold. Yet,
when others say, "You are so strong",
or "You are such a role model", the child
abuse survivor is at a loss to respond to those
labels. Beyond the humility of the hero, the abuse
has left a legacy of shame, worthlessness and isolation.
The emotional wounds from the battle of child abuse
obscures from awareness and ownership the strengths
that are employed to go another day and meet worldly
Angela providing support
during a long, emotional and
very empowering workshop.
NEED FOR A
MEMORIAL In the early 1990's suggestions
of the need for a child abuse memorial began to appear
in the literature and in discussions on child abuse.
Correlations were being made between the effectiveness
of the Vietnam Nam War Memorial for personal and social
healing and the needs of child abuse survivors and
the community that was grappling with the proportions
of child abuse in our society.
Clearly, child abuse has been a secret war which
has ravished the souls and spirits of far too many
children. Sue stated, "When the Vietnam Memorial
Wall went up, I wanted a "wall" for me
to be able to go to, even though at that time I
did not understand why. When I read about The Survivor
Monument Project it matched that thirty year old
feeling. In completing a sculpted quilt square for
the Monument I felt a deep sense of freedom in myself,
and a deep feeling of pride that I stood up to honour
my self and every survivor of child abuse.
Memorial monuments are society's acknowledgment
of individuals who have been confronted with grave
adversity. In 1990, sculptor Michael Irving, Ph.D.,
initially conceived of a plan for a memorial for
survivors of child abuse. The Child Abuse Survivor
Monument, "Reaching Out," provides the
tragedy of child abuse with the tangible power of
a commemorative memorial.
Hundreds of survivors have risen
to participate in creating this epic landmark memorializing
the reality of child abuse. All were sculpting with
the deepest passion to protect children and to make
a difference in the lives of others. "Reaching
Out" became a collaborative work incorporating
the artistic contribution of nearly 300 sculpted quilt
squares of survivors of childhood abuse and their
J. wants her quilt square, "to be on the Monument,
sealed forever with other survivors' creations, right
out there for society to experience their courage
and victories to overcome such horrendous criminal
offenses against child-humanity."
A theme of each square is the
sculpted hand of participants. The hands create a
powerful image of real survivors and their allies.
Like the names on the Vietnam Nam Memorial, the hands
remove the distance of an unidentified "them."
Tracy declares, "I want my quilt square to add
the message that child abuse has a name and a face.
Often it is easy to ignore what can be hidden".
THE HERO'S ROLE
OF MAKING CONTRIBUTION TO OTHERS
J. sees the collective hero's
journey of survivors stepping forward to create
a place on the Monument as making a contribution
to others, "Like the great Phoenix who flies
up and out of the ashes to reclaim life and freedom.
My hope is that society will see the flight and
the ashes and the power of sharing and that the
children of today and of tomorrow will thus be spared
the need to 'survive' their childhood. "
The Monument and this web site contains
the war stories of those who have gone through child
abuse or who have lived with and supported a child
The images and writings of project
participants hold the wisdom gained from the heroes
who went into battle to confront both internal and
external dragons and demons. They are shared with
all survivors and their supporters in recognition
that each one is on their own hero's journey whose
ultimate benefit will be a more compassionate world
"Reaching Out," will
be the first major National Monument to acknowledge
survivors of child abuse. It is highly appropriate
that Canada, a country noted as a world peacemaker,
will be first, through this memorial, to acknowledge
the "war" of child abuse. According to J.,
"Through the Monument I want all children who
endure the emotional and mental suffering sexual abuse
causes to be praised as heroes right up there with
Holocaust survivors and Vietnam Vets.
For adults who suffered child sexual
abuse and who now display dysfunctional behaviors
to be recognized as victims of sick adults and be
respected for the strength and courage it takes to
face and heal the pain caused by them."
survivor/artist stated, "When I had an image
of the project, I had a transformation wash over the
whole of me. A shame left that I had never been able
to get rid of. I felt empowered. The change has been
The art work and poetry presented
in the "Reaching Out" Monument Project are
the badge of courage gained from surmounting great adversity.
This is not MY Shame.
I grew up in a POW camp.
THIS IS NOT MY SHAME
Shameful Swastika; Skeleton
key you used to imprison me
You said you were "protecting" me
Highway you left me standing and crying on..
You laughed when you returned and said you were just
I didn't ask for this I was just a child
I didn't even know what the words "shame"
or "abuse" meant
These words weren't in my vocabulary until I was
a quarter of a century old
Mine is a second-hand shame that was handed to me
A hand-me-down that felt like a perfect fit
I breathed it in..choking on it..it seeped into my
Shame plays games in my head trapping me
Trappedinmyroomforonenight + Trappedinterroronahighway
= trappedinmyheadforyears. Hypervigilant, watched,
Can you hear the screaming silence coming from
Second generation German-Canadians? Who speaks for
For my brother whose soul was slowly smothered for
Who knows about the impact of growing up with a raging,
anti-semitic parent who was a POW during WWII?
Who knows of being raised by the generation that
lived the war, fought the war, filled, fled?
Who is conducting studies on the effects of second-hand
What tests determine the aftermath of Nazi Germany
on its children?
I grew up in a POW Camp
I have known the brainwashing and numbing techniques
My home was a minefield
My parents acting out the only drama they knew
Shattered Swastika, Sliced Key
This is not MY shame. I HAND IT BACK.