Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits

The Reaching Out Monument

  The Power of Memorials  
  The "Reaching Out" Symbol  
  Acknowledgment & Validation
(link to Sponsorship as Validation page)
  Transforming Denial  


The Heroes of the Monument as Inspiration
(link to Heroes of the Monument page)
  Message of the Survivors  



Throughout the ages sculpture has chronicled the human desire to validate the epic feats of nations and individuals. It is an heroic deed that individuals and society have had the courage to confront the terrible legacy of child abuse.
Michael C. Irving, Ph.D


The Child Abuse Survivor Monument,
"Reaching Out," provides the tragedy of
child abuse with the tangible power of a
commemorative memorial.



Memorial monuments are society’s acknowledgment of individuals who have been confronted with grave adversity.

Clearly, child abuse has been a secret war which has ravaged the souls and spirits of far too many children who eventually became adult survivors. Survivors are rising above their wounds and despair to create an historical landmark which memorializes the reality of child abuse.

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. I can imagine the millions of people who will experience the monument and leave touched in a very personal way. Directly and indirectly humanity will benefit from the powerful messages the Project is expressing. We are reaching out to our world.”

The memorial is a statement that: “We will not forget the trauma and adversity which has been inflicted on helpless children and we are committed to work to end it.”

The "Reaching Out" figures were part of launching Canada's first Child Abuse Awareness and Neglect Prevention Month on October 1, 2001, the first year of the new millennium.

A Child abuse memorial being created at this pivotal point in history acknowledges the twentieth century as the century in which the unspoken tragedy of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, struggled to become public knowledge.

In the third millennium this tragedy must be eradicated from human civilization.



I look at my hand
my adult hand
reaching out
of my art
my adult hand - big B strong B
and I find myself
staring at it
with awe
as it hangs
in almost 3D
- perspective B
No one would dare
abuse this hand
It wouldn't let anyone
do that.








No longer fear, a hand will be here.
No more shame, no more blame
If life is unmanageable
or you think no one cares
Visit this monument,
Find someone that shares
Painful experiences
And feelings you have had
It's ok to be angry,
It's ok to be sad.
Feelings come and go.
This monument will stay
And show comfort
From abuse denied.
We acknowledge
Those who died.
...never ever give up
You to recover is our wish.











The little girl all alone,
Alone with her secrets,
Scared to speak or even feel.
She only sees the emptiness
That surrounds her heart,
And the secret she wishes
to be able to speak.

“Please, Love me!”

But now she sees a hand,
A hand of the future,
One full of caring laughter,
And love.
It’s her hand, and she
is Not Alone!







Curled up in the silence
of a lonely space
in isolation
I find comfort
a sense of relief
even home.

But the stillness
is awkward
and unnatural
and frozen
in a solid place
away in a vacuum.

I feel the urge to break free
to live
to flow
to love
even to dance
here on earth
in this body

I struggle to wake
to reach through
the cool discomfort
or early contact
through to
the warmth and comfort
finally arriving
in the celebration
of connection.




Broken by abuse
Healed by love




My Hands are now Free
From the shame & guilt
INFLICTED upon me.
Robbed of innocence
No Life
No more secrets
My perpetrator well known
But life goes on
Now I flourish & grow
The shame & guilt
no longer in tow.







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.

Hummingbird -- Kathryn



Surviving adversity, recovery
and speaking out to help others
is the journey of the hero.





Battered - She was beat down - Cracked - Let down
Down like suicide
Till no more broken girl - Could be found
Maybe dead - Like ashes - She died
But kept walking around.

The result - She says - Of pain to push out a baby
A woman’s red thighs - Maybe
But I think she lived before - Reincarnated
To find a better day.
But Parents - Or were they - Betrayed
So she still seeks
As the ashes - Reek - And sting her nostrils.

Maybe the next life - Will not slip through her hands.

Truthteller - They jeered - And smacked it out of her.
As she fell - The ground a friend - Her nose bled
Into her ear - So she could not hear - Her own cries.

Dream - A fright
That tonight is no gentler - Than the past nights.

So she reaches a hand - To her center
Singed - Burned - Tearing the stomach out
Storing the pain - Growing a cancer
In her gut and groin - Replacing it all with ashes - Gashes
Dying like the memory of hands.






Opening the window
a weightlessness
over my child soul

Shadows of burden
The wall has been broken.

I am a wild flower
in the rain.




I am reaching out
to save the children
of the future.


I am reaching out to save
from the horror of
sex abuse

No more victims
no more pain

I am reaching out
to save
the children
of the future



Tears of hate, how do I escape?
Bleeding from the heart
Is tearing me apart.

Bring back the days of sun and glory
How do I escape my horror story?
Made me believe I was the best
Just like he said to all the rest.

Running wild in the streets
Made us feel like we were kings.
Playing God with no powers
How do you explain the midnight hour?

Reaching out for something new
Tears of hate about to Bloom!

Derrick B




Effective symbols are able to give representation and meaning on numerous levels. As icons they are vessels which can carry the essence of many individual and unique denotations. And so it is, with the theme of The Child Abuse Survivor Momument — "Reaching Out".

Firstly, the sculpture reaches out to embrace and protect survivors of child abuse. The survivors of child abuse who created the sculpture reach out of themselves. They allow the power of their healing to be celebrated with a belief in the potential for positive change. Empowered, they reach out to other survivors with affirmation and acknowledgment.

The community, in support of the project, reaches out to survivors with a message of validation and acceptance. An enormous community of survivors and their allies reach out in collaboration, knowing the memorial only exists through the direct participation of many.

Embracing the theme of reaching out, corporate, agency and business sponsorships communicate to survivors that they are not aliens to be isolated from the community. The social fabric says to those who have been betrayed, “You are one of us and belong at our side. There is nothing for you to hide from or be ashamed of. We reach out to you in validation.”

The sculpture in the longevity of bronze reaches out to each new generation to declare that the blight of child abuse is intolerable, that every survivor is an innocent who deserves far better and that surviving is a victory in itself.

Participation in the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project is an act of reaching out beyond victimization into the realm of altruism and wisdom.

The sculptural images of real, detailed and life-sized hands reach out from the quilt squares with presence. They reach out to speak the truth and tell real stories. In reaching out, the hands dissolve the silence and shame.

Pilgrims to the sculpture will reach out and place their hands upon the hands of the bronze quilts to absorb presence and life force and to give back more of the same. Survivors whose hands are not sculpted into the monument will reach out to place their hands in the fountain of hope. In the spirit of active participation in the memorial they will reach out a wet palm to place the mark of their own hand on a smooth quilt square.




Quite rightly, each ally and survivor who contemplates the symbolism of "Reaching Out" has their own unique interpretation.

Barbara stated,

“The monument is a symbol of blessing for my life. It is a benediction that my life is worth while.”

During a quilt sculpting workshop one survivor artist commented,

In touching my own cast wax hand I felt empathy for my vulnerable self.”

The sculpted hand assisted the survivor/artist in making a significant leap in self-compassion and understanding. She had responded to the original abuse with feelings of self blame and had never been able to sympathize with her adolescent-self as a victim. Another survivor/artist said, 

Seeing my wax hand made me feel more real, that I exist.”

To the perpetrator, the victim does not truly exist and lifelong feelings of nonexistence are common among survivors.

Feelings of being real and being more self empathic while working with the sculptured hands were shared by many other survivor/artist workshop participants.

The power of the overall sculpture and the individual quilt components will encourage visiting survivors to move beyond feelings of shame and unimportance and into the realm of belonging and acceptance.

Survivors who helped to create the monument and survivors who visit the monument will be impacted by its power of acknowledgment and validation. One survivor/artist wrote:

“When I imagine my sculpture up on the monument, sealed forever with other survivors’ creations, right out there for society to experience our heroism, our courage and our victories to overcome such horrendous criminal offences against child-humanity, I feel a great burden lift from my soul...I want the monument itself to be a memorial that enhances the ability of society to acknowledge the serious nature of childhood sexual abuse in a way that is transforming as opposed to creating resistance and more denial”

Indeed, the sculpture “Reaching Out” is intended to assist the community at large to feel compassion and understanding for the reality of the experiences of survivors of childhood abuse



The monument site will be a large and permanent voice speaking out about the casualties, victories and hope of child abuse sufferers. Sue says,

“I would like the community to acknowledge that child sexual abuse is a very big problem. So many people do not want to acknowledge that, but, with the monument they will have to acknowledge to themselves that they accept that abuse happens or consciously reject it.”

In his skate across Canada, hockey player, Sheldon Kennedy stopped by the monument studio one morning to cast his own hand and start sculpting a quilt square. In envisioning the two larger monument figures and the memorial fountain he reached his arms wide and declared,

“Let’s see them try to sweep this under the carpet.”



Making a quilt square for the monument is a public, social act that brings to the surface many private issues that have been shrouded by years of secrecy, hiding and shame.

Though heroic, going public in social action and in a concretely constructive manner is a significant personal step.

It may not have been until after the survivor/artist moved well into the sculpting process that the full implications of their undertaking was deeply absorbed. Likely, this realization took place gradually in stages and from different perspectives.

It is profound to be involved with the issues of child abuse in such an extensive and intensive manner. Their work will have a continuing impact on other individuals and society for centuries. To do this, is emotionally empowering. As well, it can make one feel vulnerable or fragile in unexpected ways.

The processes of creating the quilt squares and poems are powerful forms of expressive arts. They have the ability to identify and focus on core themes.




Society is just becoming aware of the extent of child abuse, and in particular, child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is an area fraught with much naivete and misconception.

Helping society come to terms with child abuse is one of the goals voiced by project survivor/artists. Upon finishing her quilt square Janet wrote,

“I want to assist in further ‘breaking the silence’ on this issue — for the monument to show and be a reminder that both women and men were sexually abused as children and need to be heard.”

Voicing the sentiments of many other quilt square participants Cherlyn declared,

“If one child hears the TELL message and gets help, WOW.”

It is highly significant that the people primarily responsible for creating this enormous act of social action and benefit are themselves survivors.

Each quilt square is an important voice that is directed to other survivors and to the community at large. Maria stated,

I would really like the sculpture that I worked on to have an opportunity to speak to the hearts, minds and souls of those who view it. It is my hope that there will be understanding that the real damage done to child sexual abuse victims and other child abuse victims goes for deeper than the physical. It affects our very being and who we are and become. It impacts the rest of our lives."

These survivors of childhood abuse are moving into the public domain to prevent further victimization and ignorance. To prevent the further victimization of other innocent children is an ultimate victory over the legacy of this devastating form of violence.

Standing up and speaking out with action can be empowering, and that empowerment affects others. In making a quilt square one participant related,

“I got in touch with the strength I have and the hope to be strong in life. I have spoken more about my experience with the sculpture as a focus. I want the monument project to be able to assist others in their healing and to work for prevention.”

The sculpted quilt squares will be a voice on the Monument, and through the traveling art and educational exhibition they will visit small and large communities across Canada.

Through its wide exposure, the public art/information exhibits will have an enormous effect on individual survivors, and on society’s understanding of the issues around child abuse.


At various events and in the mail we receive messages that people want us to place inside the bronze Monument figures.

One of the HandPrints given to us during the Cambridge 100 Cross Canada "Reaching Out" Tour speaks of the troubles and conflicts that face many survivors. The letter reads:

Dear Mom,

So many questions. Important questions!
Then I called out, "mommy, mommy." Why didn't you HEAR me?
Where were you?
Was it my fault?
Why was I not protected?
Was I sacrificed for your needs?
Did you not SEE?
Was what you'd see too painful for your heart to endure?
Were you powerless too?
Another Victim?
Did you love him more than me?
Was I in the way, perhaps a threat?
Were you alone, unsupported, terrified?
Why didn't you do something, anything?
Could you have survived financially alone?
Would it have been worth it?
Did you want help?
Do you feel any shame, responsibility?
SEE no evil, SPEAK no evil, HEAR no evil.
Will blaming you heal any of my pain?
Do you know that I love you?


This letter/poem will be placed inside the bronze "Reaching Out" Monument with thousands of other HandPrint drawings, messages and letters. Individually and collectively they reach out to claim and provide understanding, healing and meaning.

Thank you all for your contributions, in the spirit of reaching out,
Dr. Michael C. Irving.


"Follow Site Web Ring"

Mike it possible.
Help us stop the hooror.
REACH OUT for yourself.





Heal the path.
Your pain is Society's
Shame. .
Touch the Rainbow.





REACH OUT to those
who are in need.
Always be patient and
Create you own style
and don't be afraid.
Every one is special
Don't forget
to love those who are
close to you.





When I was 5
she was 4
I never knew
I didn't clue-in
until I was in my 40"s.
Now I can
REACH OUT to her.
Thank you Lord.





REACH OUT to the
broken hearted
Love can heal!





Against child abuse.





Against Child Abuse.



Let your HandPrint
join others in the



REACH OUT to parents
and caregivers.
No parent should feel
No child shoud be
For child abuse





for all kid!
Joey, age 8




Against Child Abuse
Stop the Abuse





We can help too.
Kids helping kids.
Stop the abuse!
A kids hand helping
to stop another kid
from hurting.





Lend out a hand and
let's stop the abuse!!





Thaks for giving us
a hand.





Stop Child Abuse
Best wishes from
Bristol England





Every one of us
can make a difference.
We will make it better.





Together we are
stronger than alone.
Bruce, age 5





You are cool,
Thank for helpin.





Plant the seeds.
Stop Child Abuse.





Love Respect
Happy Content
Help stop the Pain!
Children deserve to be
happy not hurt.





Let us help the
youth to heal.

- How to Donate

- Home
- Link to Us

*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)