Domestic Violence & How Art Can Help

My First Job

My first job after college was in a domestic violence shelter.  I served as the Donation Coordinator and most of my time was spent helping women who were leaving the shelter get the basics to set up a new home –  toiletries, drinking glasses, and bedding were always in demand.  I also coordinated with other community-based organizations so that we could refer women to agencies to help them with traveling to a different city or finding a new apartment.

Some of the women leaving were overwhelmed at the idea of starting over, finding a new place to live and piecing together a household from hand-me-down items is not easy and can be especially difficult when your body and soul are wounded.  I know that some women returned to an abusive situation because they were not ready to brave a new beginning.

Supporting Women

Since that time I have continued to think about how we can best support women who are trying to leave an abusive situation so that they do not feel as if they have no choice but to return.  Clearly, more funding and greater legal protection would have a positive impact, but beyond that how do we support women so that they can find their strength to create their own future?

Domestic violence is not easy to talk about.  People often feel a great sense of shame for being in an abusive relationship and are worried about being judged or seen as victims. Leaving any relationship is complicated, there may be children, a shared household, financial dependence and a romantic relationship that had some really great times, untangling feelings of fear, anger and love is difficult. Sometimes the emotional abuse is more damaging than the physical violence, causing women to question their own thinking.

Art Heals And Offers Hope

I believe art has a tremendous potential to help women begin the healing process and in exploring new possibilities for their life.  Creating art can be a healing experience, helping us to relax and open ourselves up to new ideas.

Art is a great way to share an experience and make sense of complex emotions.  Sometimes speaking about an experience is just too difficult, there are things that are hard to say out loud or the experience is beyond what words can convey.  Here, art can be used to share information and to help express feelings.  Creating art it is a safe way to work through emotion and is also not limited by language.

Art is also a great way to help to generate a sense of possibility.  Creating art can helps you get in touch with yourself and allows you to begin exploring new ideas.  Using our imagination opens the door to all endless the possibilities, helps move us one step forward in creating something unique, and personal.  For those who have lose a sense of themselves art helps to restore who we are and opens us up to new ideas.

More Information on Domestic Violence and Art Programs

Telling without Talking: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Violence

Art Therapy and Domestic Violence from the International Art Therapy Organization

A Window Between Worlds is a non-profit organization dedicated to using art to help end domestic violence

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5 thoughts on “Domestic Violence & How Art Can Help

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Domestic Violence & How Art Can Help « SpeakArtLoud -- Topsy.com

  2. This is a wonderful post. I have witnessed this process — there’s something validating in creating that reminds us of our individual value. It’s a primal urge, as ancient as cave art, and so necessary when we go through a change and need healing. I am enjoying exploring your blog!

    • Thank you for your very thoughtful comment, Joy. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I agree with you that the creative process can help us manage change. Creativity is powerful and can help us understand and heal. I hope you continue to enjoy our blog!

      ~ Sally

  3. Pingback: Domestic Violence & How Art Can Help (via SpeakArtLoud) | Chronically Inspired

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