Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits

The Monument Art as Healing


"Reaching Out Child Abuse Monument"
Sculptor: Michael C. Irving, Ph.D.


  Public/Social Art as Healing  
Healing for Partners, Friends, Parents and Children of Child Abuse Survivors

The Monument dramatically illustrates the effectiveness of 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.”

In order 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.

The material 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.

Mark Conacher, formerly with the Ontario Children's Guardian and Ontario MPP Tina Molinari, Associate Minister Municipal Affairs and Housing have passionately committed their professional lives to making the world a better place for children. They realize the difference the monument can make for children and adult survivors.


January 5, 1998

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.




The hardest thing
bout child abuse is
If you tell
You're ostracized.

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'm cold
I'm hungry
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 images
and messages become new
forms of visual art through the efforts of graphics and computer volunteers.

Sergei, a new Canadian from
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





Stab, Cut, Poke, Prod,
Hit, Smack, Whip,
Laugh At, Humiliate

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

Ruth Cook


I sign my name
it is finished
chapter read & closed

My hand
Claims me
Claims my climb
Claims my struggle
Claims my courage

I follow the birds
they guide the way
fluttering, flying
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.




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 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 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.

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.

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 survivors.

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 ( 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 word.
This first-ever public speaking
was quoted from in newspaper articles and she was on the
evening news.


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

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.

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.


People that called me their family
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 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 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.
We acknowledge
Those who died...

Linda B.





Under a 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.




12 step


Healing hands
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.

Healing Hands
along the path
A healthy way
Safe circle and goddesses
knowledge and freedom.

Healing Hands
along the path
Mom, Dad, brother and friends
show me the courage and sensitivity
to survive life.

Healing Hands
began the path in the safety of
Pinky Bear.
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
printed materials.



Farah Khan

Visit the

Quilt Square
Meditation Pools





This warm white liquid
in my palm
is too familiar
like the searing smell
of scorched flesh
it takes me back
to there...



Can I peel
away the pain
while working
on this piece?

And can I slice
through time like wax
and find a form
that echoes more
than ugliness?

Life could be sculpture...
we can re-invent our souls
our selves.





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
were on.
Since I never watched it
before I assumed it was
mean to be.

When you yourself
answered the phone that
same afternoon,
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 to others.

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 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 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.



Projective Identification

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.

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.



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 abuse.

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 abuse.

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 ground.

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 bronze patina.

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 survivors.

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 patients.

Marcia Weiner, Ph.D.

Follow Site Web Ring"

They are only children.
Love them all!






Stop it now.
Protect our Children.






Do your best.






Don't let the anger
and mistake pass on!!!
Care for them,
don't abuse them!
Make a new generation.






The place inside me
shines and remains
untouched . I own my
body and it remains
pure as my spirit.






It took 40 years
of fear
before I was set free.






Darkness was mine...
Now it's my tome to...









Never give up on your
rights to be trusted
with love and respect.
Please be strong and
brave and tell someone
who can help
stop the pain.
Now is the time to heal.
My prayers are with
you all. Cindy






I was abused!
The cycle stopped
with me!
Listen to the children.
Believe the children.
Help the children.






It's too important
to forget.
Children are the target.
Please help stop the
abuse. It starts with
one person.






Stop child abuse.
It's not your fault.











John Penney
Mount Cashel Survivor






Stop the cycle,
break the silence.
Embrace the child
within -
She did what was
necessary to survive.












My life is not a pencil.
You can't erase
your mistakes.






I don't like when
people hit other.












I think it is scary!
Myles, age 11












Don't let the anger and
mistake pass on!!!

Care for them,
don't abuse them!
Make a new generation.












Please stop the violence
and the wars.











Abuse is not the way.


- 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 * Sponsorship Opportunities *
* Unveiling *

*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2004)