Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits

The recovery of traumatic memory is often involuntary, complex & fragmented. The remembering often begins when there is readiness, safety, and the realization that something is very wrong.

The backlash and resistance to traumatic memories is a product of social and organizational denial.

The public's misunderstanding of traumatic memory adversely affects both survivors and society at large.

Denial of recovered memory by society and perpetrators is extremely painful and destructive for survivors. It can feel malicious. The distancing and denial superficializes the teller and the witness.

The recovery of traumatic memory is at times involuntary, complex and fragmented.

The mechanics of the recovery of traumatic memory are readiness, safety, and the realization that something is very wrong.

Memory recovery is not neat or chronological. Due to amnesia, dissociation, brain development and function in response to traumatic stress, and time delays, there is often fragmentation of the memory of traumatic experience.

As we can see from the soldiers' experiences at the Gander tragedy, imagistic memory can be activated by trauma. The trauma of abuse is not something the mind or body forgets. If "the Memory" is not stored in the conscious mind, it will be stored in the unconscious. Sooner or later, that memory will emerge, often in the form of imagistic memory.

When the images from repressed memories do come spilling out, they are persistent and uniquely compelling. The same image occurs repeatedly, sometimes three times, sometimes hundreds of times over years. However many times the same image flashes, it seems to stick in your mind, as if your psyche has underlined it with invisible ink.


My innocence,
a seed hidden away
begins unfolding.


During the making of this square I had a powerful dream:

Beginning at age 5 I began having nightmares about spiders. They continued all through my life. Always I am being pursued by very large spiders. They grab a hold of me and wont' let go. I wake up.

This time in the dream the spider was as large as a horse. I ran down the street trying to get away and everywhere I ran there was no exit. There was a small group of us who ran into the town hall.

When we got inside it was announced that the doors and windows were locked and there would be not heat and no water. When I heard that I knew something was wrong.

Then I noticed that the others were sitting down in a circle of chairs. So I sat too. I looked around and noticed that their hands were grabbing their skin in the centre of their chests and pulling open their chests, opening their bodies and out of them were emerging human sized spiders.

I knew that was it, I was surrounded and then I looked down and noticed that I was doing the same thing. I was becoming a spider. I became my fear. The spider has been my teacher.

That dream was the end of me being a victim. I am the dark and the light. I am in the web of life. It was very powerful and I am grateful for the opportunity to create the spider, and in the creating of it.



I bet he doesn't remember what I did to him! I bet he thinks I don't remember what he did to me!
Julie Atwood





Month of May
sees child's play
of finger puppets,
on drifting moon beams,
through gauzey curtains,
on robin's egg
and violet walls.

Lilac scent
on spring time
waft through screens,
and urge an innocent’s
peaceful sleep.

Child heart beats,
Thoughts are sweet.

Brothers, sister,
all tucked in,
with Mama's cosy
touch and flannel sheets.

Hush, quiet now,
it's school

Black Knight's serpent
engine purring,
glaring headlights flash
ignite the room;
Creaking metal door,
bangs the nodding night.

In wide eyed dread,
lids clamp shut,
Fists clench tight,
Catatonic, toe to
frightened head.

Dear God,
say he's had a few
The drink will
make him mellow;
He'll go to bed
that way.

Kitchen door
slams with force,
so brutal,
house and all
that's in it,

Dervish Daddy,
breaking loose,
Crashing, smashing rampage,
Devils' wicked,
whirling, wacking.

Eyes shut tight
Pretend slumber,
on reverse moon beams,
soaring skyward, to drowse
on stars lofty pillows,
in celestial silence.

Star's fire consume fear
to ash of nothingness.






Depression takes over and so I search my soul and my inner self,
Hoping to discover some explanation of a senseless situation.

I look to the mirror
What do I see?
A frightened child,
Please don’t let it be me.

In the deepest regions of my confused and cluttered mind,
Are shards of what seem to be a nightmare of the worst kind.

I look to the mirror
What do I see?
A frightened child,
Please don’t let it be me.

For years I avoided this reflection because of its unpleasantness
swiftly running endlessly away from the reality of its existence.

I look to the mirror
What do I see?
A frightened child,
Please don’t let it be me.

A safe life, for this young soul, would require a guard
A rock, a hammer, a fist, thrusting forward
Too hard, too hurtful, too inexplicably wild,
To obliterate the reflection of this child.
And so, I think, I am drawn to a conclusion,
For this child, there will be no more confusion.

Suddenly, the pieces crash to the floor
The child runs frantically to get out the door.
She searches for the exit and her blood runs cold
As she realizes that it is surrounded by the mold
Of the mirror that she shattered to bits that day;
Destroyed is the escape route to a safe place to play.





Come Home

Little child, frightened Self
you were forced to know the truth;
adult knowledge thrust upon you,
drowned in a flood of terror and despair
My shattered heart.

Little child, helpless Self
trapped in ways you couldn’t explain
by things you didn’t understand;
hopeless fog and blinding depression,
No control.

Little girl, lost Self
with the grief of a woman but the soul of a child.
You long for your baby
and I long for mine.

Little child, murdered Self
lifeless and empty
I remember, now, what happened.
Let me take what is unbearable, let me feel the anguish with you.
I grew up for us both.
I’m here now, I’ve come back for you as I promised I would.
Give your burden to me
Precious child, treasured Self.
I know what to do now;
I know how to help.



Discussion - How Abuse is Recovered and Remembered

Issues and Concerns
The major issues and concerns about the ways that abuse is recovered and remembered are:

  • The stereotyping of perpetrators.
  • The epidemic of child abuse.
  • Who would want the memories of child abuse to be remembered? There is no personal gain involved.
  • False Memory Syndrome ‘ Denial Disorder Syndrome.

Other issues and concerns include the power which recovered abuse offers the perpetrator, and the risks for the survivor in confirming the abuse and/or confronting the perpetrator. Such memories bring fear to a lot of people in the survivor’s life. They may cause loss of family, and for many, the cost of these memories is very high.



Losses to the survivor who recovered and remembers abuse may include the loss of family, friends, spouse, part of self, and the loss of financial security. It may also result in the perpetration of abuse, of poor health and illness, or addictions to food, alcohol, drugs or other substances or activities.

Stress-related health problems such as migraines, cancer, digestive problems, depression of the immune system and impaired cognitive functions are often related to the recovery of memories of abuse. In addition, somatic feelings may result in seizures, and survivors may experience suicidal feelings, a need for self-mutilation or other self-destructive urges.



False Memory Syndrome ‘ Denial Disorder Syndrome
The public’s misunderstanding of traumatic memory and an individual’s ability to recover memory adversely affects both survivors and society at large. People often don’t understand the nature of trauma. Traumatized individuals often experience a separation of feelings and memories. The recovery of their memories is usually non-chronological. Fragmentation of the memory experience may also occur. Post-traumatic stress disorder is known and has been well documented.

The repression of memories is a mechanism of survival. This is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Often there is an underestimation of the terror involved, the feeling of death. There are explicit and implicit memories. They are not neat and pretty or chronological. For the survivor, seeing is believing. However, he or she may experience amnesia or gaps in memory. It is difficult to accept that these memories are real. Disassociative identity disorder may occur.

The mechanisms of recovery involve physical and emotional depletion; a feeling of no longer being able to cope, combined with a sense of readiness, distance from the perpetrator, a feeling of safety and a recognition of destructive direction.

Survivors often experience a backlash or resistance to their memories. They may experience social denial and disbelief. They may experience organized denial, combined with threats of repercussions. Victim blaming and economic loss may result. The concerns may be about protection of the perpetrator, rather than of the survivor. The issue may be further complicated by stereotypes of perpetrators.

Both the public and many professionals misunderstand trauma and how widespread this issue is. They are not aware of the rates of incidence for post-traumatic stress syndrome or disassociative identity disorder. Also important to understand is that there is a difference between children’s and adults’ experience.

Misunderstandings about denial are also widespread. The families and friends of survivors are often unprepared to deal with the issues of their abuse. The memories are too painful, crashing their sense of reality. False memory syndrome is a common vehicle of denial. Planted memories, hypnosis, medication, regression, child-like memories are all used to “authenticate” proof of false memory syndrome. This reinforces blaming of the victim, planting the seeds of self doubt. “Like going up a down escalator.”



How Abuse is Remembered and Recovered:
Abuse can be remembered and recovered as body memories, flashbacks, disassociation, or in response to triggers. The memories themselves may be disjointed, fragmented, unpredictable and may by inconsistent. They may appear in dreams. They may be triggered by sensory stimuli (smells, sounds, touch, taste, sights), recurring events, specific locations or environments, anger, alcohol, food, children or family interactions, clothing, colours, objects of abuse, parties, groups of people or other stimuli. They may occur in therapy or as a result of a group process or support group. The survivor will usually react with denial, disbelief and doubt.




Bayin, Anne. “Falsely Accused: False Memory Syndrome is Wrecking Families and Destroying the Credibility of Genuine Sexual-Abuse Victims.” Homemaker’s Magazine, September 1993, vol. 28 no. 6, p. 44-6, 48+.

Bower, Bruce. Sex abuse: Direct Approach May Aid Recall.” Science News (US), October 19, 1991, vol. 140 no. 16, p. 245.

-----------. “Sudden Recall: Adult Memories of Child Abuse Spark a Heated Debate pt.1.” Science News (US), September 18, 1993, vol. 144 no. 12, p. cover, 184-6.

Brown, Laura. Subversive Dialogues. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1994.

Eigenkind, Heidi. “Bearing Witness: A Questioning of the Politics of Memory”. Canadian Woman Studies, Fall 1991, vol. 12 no. 1, p. 21-4.

Fraser, Sylvia. “Abuse Wars: Whose Memory Matters? Betrayal Trauma: The Logic Of Forgetting Childhood Abuse.” Globe and Mail, January 25, 1997 pD14 (English).

Herman, Judith Lewis. Trauma and Recovery. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1992. xi 276 p.

Kandel, Minouche and Eric R. Kandel. “Flights of Memory: Can Memories of Long-Ago Abuses Be Lost? Once Lost, Can They Be Found Again?” Discover, May 1994, vol. 15, no. 5, p. 32, 34-8.

Martin, Sandra. “You Must Remember This: -- War Raging Around Recovered Memories.” Chatelaine (Eng), September 1997, vol. 70 no. 9 p.40-1, 43+ (English).

Moore, Tom. Angels Crying: A True Story of Secrecy and Tragedy. Nimbus Publishing Ltd. 1995.

Penfold, P. Susan. “Repressed Memory Controversy: Is There Middle Ground? Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 15 1996, vol. 155 no. 6, p. 647-53.

Terr, Lenore. Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic Memories, Lost and Found. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books, 1994.

Woodward, Kenneth L. “Was It Real Or Memories? The Collapse of Charges Against A Cardinal Raises Questions About ‘Assisted’ Claims of Sexual Abuse.” Newsweek, March 14, 1994, vol. 123 no. 11, p. 54-5.


We have to be careful
how we express our
feelings, because
sometimes it doesn't
turn out how we
wanted it to.






Children have a voice
and they need to be
heard. and loved
for who they are.






Care, Love, Happy,
I never abuse a child
because it's not write.
Ashley, age 8






You should be kind
to your child.






We R the treasuares of
the earth, guard us and
protect, love us and
care. So Dat when we
grow up we will take
care of U back.
Love your kids.
Phyllis, age 17





Love caring and nice
is how you should treat
your kids.





Ethan, 2 years old










They are only children.
Love them all!





While we may not know
every child...
We must know
the importance
of each childhood.





Be patient with kids.
Stephen 19

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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)

*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)