The Monument dramatically
illustrates the effectiveness of art as healing.
ART AS HEALING
For the monument to actualize
the power of change, its message will have to
be seen by many. For people to be changed, they
have to be touched and called to action. Art
has the power to reach beyond people’s conceptual
defenses and touch the soul. Connecting with
the deeper spirit of humanity has always been
one of the purposes of making art. As one quilt
square artist said:
“I would like
the monument to ‘tug’ at people’s hearts, and
make them face and acknowledge the widespread
abuse. I don’t want them to sit idle, but rather
take an active part in putting an end to all
the suffering of the innocent ones.”
to reach out to more of society, The Child Abuse
Survivor Monument Project is working toward
a major national arts exhibition. In addition
to the art works, the Monument Project displays
employ information highlight boards to help
develop awareness of child abuse, its ramifications
and its prevention.
examines the basic issues of abuse and includes
guides to help understand survivors’ concerns
and dispel many myths that exist about abuse
and abuse survivors. The Monument dramatically
illustrates the effectiveness of art as healing.
A hand of wax
A hand of clay.
Making it takes
Some of the pain away
A hand of bronze
Or steel or gold
Keeps the memory young
As we grow old.
The hands around me
That form this quilt,
Are hands of strength
Not hands of guilt.
We stood up
For those who can’t
A brother, a sister,
An uncle, an aunt.
So touch my hand
And feel my pain
And promise to never
Let it happen again.
The Monument Studio receives
many visitors who become ardent project supporters.
Being involved in
the Survivor Monument Project has been a wonderful
experience for me. Working with others of
like background to erect a work of art that
will be on display allows me to know that
never again will child abuse be swept under
the rug of secrecy. It exists! It acknowledges
that and that makes it more comfortable in
my mind. I hope it helps others in similar
situations to find comfort that they are not
alone B this project is breaking the silence.
LISTENING TO THE WIND
The hardest thing
bout child abuse is
If you tell
I told mother
Her eyes closed
and opened naught
for two whole years
By then I knew
if I wanted to be heard
I talked about the weather
and nothing stuff
I lay huddled in my wood blanket
I lay listening to the February snow storm,
listening to the wind
pulling the tent
and the snow pellets driving against the canvas.
I'm so cold and hungry.
when I grow up
I'm going to feed my children
and keep them warm.
The Monument sculptural
and messages become new
forms of visual art through the efforts of graphics
and computer volunteers.
Sergei, a new Canadian
Russia, found an outlet for his
passion to make a better life for
himself and children in applying
his computer skills through
creating resource materials for
quilt square workshop
That's What They Did to Me
That's What I Feel Like Doing To Me
That's What I Desperately Want To Do To My Art
But, I Don't
I Work On the Imagers
Sculpt, Shape, Create
The Rage Gives Me Energy
Energy To Tell - - -
There Will Be No More Secrets
I sign my name
it is finished
chapter read & closed
Claims my climb
Claims my struggle
Claims my courage
I follow the birds
they guide the way
through shafts of light
We find the opening together
the light at the end of the tunnel
the fresh air at the mouth of the cavern
Art and Education
Exhibitions and Displays
The art and education exhibition
has three components.
First, the art work for the exhibition
comes directly from the bronze monument’s sculpted
276 quilt squares. The molds used to make these
quilt squares into bronze are for the purpose
of the exhibition used to form lightweight and
highly portable cast paper wall sculptures.
Each wall sculpture is framed 26" by 36" and
encompasses 6 quilt squares.
Second, these cast paper sculptures
are accompanied by 46 poster boards of poetry
from the project’s art workshops. Third,
Information Highlights, which review survivor
issues, join them to create a comprehensive
art and educational composition.
By including poster boards with
vignettes of survivors’ stories through their
poetry and materials of an educational descriptive
nature, the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project
Quilt Exhibition takes on a unique form. It
becomes more than just an art show.
Approaching an exhibition with
art, stories and educational information is,
in part, premised on the belief that people
are far more sophisticated today and want more
than a visual impact when attending an art exhibition.
In art, we want the awe and wonder of aesthetic
achievement; yet we also want to learn, to think
and to participate. We want to be challenged
emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.
FOR PARTNERS, FRIENDS,
PARENTS AND CHILDREN OF
CHILD ABUSE SURVIVORS
Friends, family or partners
of survivors grapple with understanding the
abuse experience -- past and present. The
incomprehensibility if 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
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 to survivors want at least to 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 themselves what it is
like to have lived with abuse, they are at
a greater loss to help someone else understand.
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.
Sharing ones experience through
art can help with the telling of a difficult
story. Tracy wrote of the monument quilt squares
having, "Been an incredible gift to share
with my family, friends and community. I have
become more confident in telling my story.
The shame that crippled me is fading. The
project has helped complete my picture. It
reminded me I was abused, but I am not abuse."
The quilt squares not only help allies to
understand, they bring insights forward for
Another man who viewed the
squares on a number of occasions said, "I
can't talk directly about the abuse, but in
talking about the quilt squares, what needs
to be talked about gets done." The resolution
facilitated through the social nature of sharing
one's innermost feelings the memorial has
its greatest impact on relationships.
Power of the Human Spirit
Through the Monument art 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.
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 (www.ChildAbuseMonument.org)
can be an opportunity for partners and close
friends to have a natural means of discussing
abuse issues and gaining a further understanding
of the survivor's experience.
Al Clint asks Tracy to
be a public
speaker at a Monument Exhibit in
Devonshire Mall in Windsor.
Tracy spoke from her heart and
the large audience of children hung on to her every
This first-ever public speaking
was quoted from in newspaper articles and she
was on the
MY TURN TO LIVE
Today another good-bye
Too many good-byes for one lifetime
I touch my hand & want to hold on forever
Yet I know this time in surrendering it is not
an end as before
Today is only another moment of many - a path
to my future
and this time I can go along the journey
It's not like the abuse of my childhood
I never wanted to be left -- abandoned
So much to give & too much taken
Providing a Safe Medium
"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.
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.
HEALING THE WOUNDS
People that called me their
Stabbed my life with a knife
and in the end they chose to twist it
Instead of choosing to help heal my wounds.
Now I have a new life and
people that I call family
I now know how it feels to be
truly and unconditionally loved.
It is real! It is genuine!
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
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.
been my sanity
You have been my life saver
You have been my miracle
You have been heaven sent.
You are my husband and
I will always love you.
... This monument will stay
And show comfort
From abuse denied.
Those who died...
HOME AT LAST
blanket she cries.
It's as though none have eyes.
For they do not see her need.
Sent to her room with no one near.
The knot holes in the walls cannot hear.
There's cloying loneliness within
And the inner voices raise a din.
In yellow flowers she takes delight
And after the rain in the sunshine bright.
Feeling alone and left behind
Her needs become clear in my mind.
My hand reaches back over time
To gently draw her home at last
To love and to comfort; for the child is mine.
along the path help me find
courage strength and self respect to
conquer the pain, tears and broken hearts,
breaking the cycle of generations of
alcoholism and abuse.
along the path
A healthy way
Safe circle and goddesses
knowledge and freedom.
along the path
Mom, Dad, brother and friends
show me the courage and sensitivity
to survive life.
began the path in the safety of
Later, it’s my courage and strength.
I learned from the honesty
of the quilt squares. Thank you.
Cami: Assisting Sculptors
Ralph Hoskins found the
Monument Project to be a
means for him to offer support
to his extended family and
and to create a better world
for his children to grow up in.
Ralph became a Board Member
and later moved on to
The Circle of Friends.
He has done significant work
with helping the project to
produce high quality
the Quilt Square
in my palm
is too familiar
like the searing smell
of scorched flesh
it takes me back
IN THE WORKSHOP
Can I peel
away the pain
on this piece?
And can I slice
through time like wax
and find a form
that echoes more
Life could be sculpture...
we can re-invent our souls
Letter to Michael
You have no idea what this
form of expression has allowed me to set free.
Of all the
forms of therapy, assistance
or help I sought, NOTHING
allowed me to set free the
final stages of my abuse like
the Survivor Monument Project.
I had no idea what was to
come of the Dini Petti show
I watched the day you
Since I never watched it
before I assumed it was
mean to be.
When you yourself
answered the phone that
I knew it was fate.
Thank you very much for the
opportunity to become part
of, what I think, is the most
important job on earth –
stopping the abuse of any
living thing or person.
Because of you, I am me!
Your life was fleeting,
but my love for you was not.
Although I never had the
chance to know you,
You will never be forgotten.
I will always love you.
Witnessing Broad Support
The project has been widely
sponsored by businesses and community groups.
Survivors who see the lengthy list of supporters
hear sends a clear and direct message to survivors
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.
Addressing Fundamental Wounds
Three primary wounds of child
abuse are a sense of shame, worthlessness and
isolation and 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 not worthy 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
A social action activity
can have a dramatic impact on 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.
Communicating to Allies
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 my 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
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 she was able to be more real
and trust due to, "people's donation 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. This acceptance and
care is one of the valuable lessons for survivors
who during and after the abuse certainly felt
no one cared.
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 acts of art.
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.
SPEAKING OUT FOR
ABUSED CHILDREN -- ISSD NEWS
James Chu's (June 1997) President's
Message in the ISSD NEWS called for ISSD's commitment
to speak out for abused children. He challenged
us to be "advocates for our patients and their
needs both inside and outside the mental health
care delivery system". I want to inform the
membership of a remarkable Canadian endeavor.
The Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project is
an ambitious long-term social initiative which
will culminate in a large public monument to
be unveiled in Toronto, Canada. The sculpture
will memorialize the suffering and courage of
all abused children. This national memorial
will be the first of its kind in the world to
acknowledge and honor the adversity of child
It is difficult for society
to directly deal with child abuse. As Dr. Chu
noted, "the most important reason for society's
blindness to child abuse is denial". Similar
to the clinical phenomenon, Social denial and
distancing can be viewed as symptoms of the
vicarious trauma of repeatedly hearing about
the abuse and hurt that has been inflicted on
vulnerable and innocent children. This vicarious
trauma is a social wound that needs to be healed.
Personal and cultural healing through are can
be quite powerful. Public art, like memorials,
are means by which groups of people heal the
collective wound, as has been witnessed so dramatically
with the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C. The
Child Abuse Monument will serve to heal the
social shock and thereby minimize the pervasive
denial and distancing associated with child
abuse. As a healing icon it can serve to transform
society's relationship to childhood abuse issues
and concerns. It will also further the personal
healing individuals who have suffered child
The bronze sculpture titled
"Reaching Out" incorporates the artistic contribution
of 276 survivors. Measuring over 11 feet tall
by 32 feet wide, the sculpture is a vignette
of two standing figures with arms spread out
and upward in victory and presence. Draping
the outstretched arms and shoulders of the figures
will be quilted shawls reaching down to the
Each of the ten inch squares
of the bronze quilt has a survivor's cast hand
along with any writing or art work the survivor
wishes to create. Sculpting and writing workshops
are being held across Canada for survivors who
wish to sculpt the quilt squares. On each figure
24 quilt squares will be left smooth as a place
of remembrance for all survivors. Allowing for
permanent interaction and involvement, survivors
who pilgrim to the site can place a hand in
the fountain and than place their wet hand on
a plane square leaving a hand outline on the
The quilt squares will also
become part of a major travelling national arts
and information exhibition. Child abuse is an
area socially rife with much naivety and misconception.
"Information highlights" in the exhibition will
be directed towards developing awareness of
the basic issues of abuse. The project is developing
pamphlets, newspaper inserts, booklets for mass
distributions and public service announcements
for print, radio, TV and billboards. This large
public awareness is being directed to understanding
the concerns of survivors and to dispel the
many myths that exist about abuse and abuse
The Child Abuse Survivor
Monument is also working to establish an annual
Child Abuse Awareness Week in Canada and an
annual national fundraiser which will make available
millions of dollars for abuse prevention and
support for survivors.
Canada's initiative to create
the first National Memorial to Child Abuse is
being terrifically supported by corporations,
government and individuals. It can serve to
heal the malignancy of child abuse. To further
its potential to heal, this effort can be shared
will all our patients so that they will know
that they are cared about, validated and recognized
for their adversity and heroism. In sharing
this with our colleagues around the world it
can similarly give us encouragement to continue
the important, yet at times distressing work
which we do. It can give us strength and spur
us on to continue the speak out on behalf our