Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits


Messages for "Reaching Out" Exhibitions
Messages for "Reaching Out" Exhibitions

The travelling exhibition's mandate to help society understand and respond in a positive and effective manner begs examination of questions such as: "What does society need to know about child abuse and child sexual abuse? About survivors of abuse?" "What myths and misunderstandings need to be clarified?" "What facts should be known? What issues should be understood?" "What can allies to survivors provide? What services should be known about?" In short, at the end of our art and educational campaign: "What does the society need to have realized in order to effectively protect children and appropriately support survivors of child abuse?" In addition to informing and demystifying, there is a need to present options for further personal and social action.

To determine the answers to these questions, the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project developed a community participatory research forum. Over a nine month period, large and small group discussions identified 30 specific theme issues and areas of concern regarding child abuse. A consensus-based forum was designed to gather the thoughts and feelings of a representation of survivors, clinicians and individuals who interact with survivors. Efforts were made to encourage inclusively and ensure a diverse representation of knowledge and experience.

The Child Abuse Awareness Advisory Forum titled What Do Canadians Need to Know About Child Abuse? was held on May 22-24, 1998 at the Hincks Institute in Toronto.  The Forum was tremendously successful, bringing together over 250 participants, volunteers and guests who worked together in over 30 sessions throughout the weekend to explore our theme.

The information generated by the Forum will contribute to increasing knowledge and understanding of the issues of child abuse across Canada, and will provide an opportunity for Canadians to participate in their own healing, or the healing of others. To this end the Forum examined:

James MacPherson, Forum Chair, opened with words of appreciation and inspiration.

Focus groups were a time of sharing and receiving support. Many who attended found not only were they giving of themselves out of life experiences, but that it was also very healing.

Participants brought research statistics, references and other materials that were shared with others during focus groups and the breaks between sessions.

The Hincks Institute was extremely generous in providing donated conference rooms, sound, recording and audio visual equipment, a fully equipped institutional kitchen, a variety of staff support leading up to and during the Research Forum.

Types of Child Abuse

  • What is Emotional Abuse
  • What is Child Neglect?
  • What is Physical Abuse?
  • What is Sexual Abuse?
  • Child Prostitution and Child Sex Rings
  • Child Pornography and the Internet
  • The Abuse of Individuals with Disabilities
  • The Abuse of Aboriginal People in Residential Institutions
  • Ritual Abuse
  • History of Child Abuse



Using the Empowerment of CVR (Creative Visualization and Relaxation) Light and Sound Technology
to help with Addictions




Impacts of Child Abuse
  • Social costs of abuse
  • Personal costs of abuse
  • The impact on children who witness violence and abuse.
  • The impact of child neglect on development
  • The signs and symptoms of abuse
  • Abuse and addictions
  • Effects of abuse on the body and brain structures



Response to Child Abuse
  • The process of recovery from abuse
  • What resources exist to aid in recovery
  • How abuse is recovered and remembered
  • How to respond when someone you know discloses having been abused as a child
  • Support for parents of an abused child
  • How to get help when you have been abused
  • Child abuse prevention; breaking the cycle
  • Defining the rights of children
  • The mental health system and its treatment of child abuse victims
  • Laws applying to child abuse
  • The difficulties preventing agencies from responding adequately to abused children
  • How to respond to abuse in your community





Why Public Education on Child Abuse?

Over the past several decades, the Canadian public has been bombarded by revelations of child abuse in their communities.  While it has been essential to become aware of this disturbing reality, the parade of trauma has become overwhelming for many people.  Most media portrayals focus only on the details of the abuse without providing much in the way of the psychological or social context. Public confusion is evident in current controversies regarding child abuse.
It was one of our founding premises that the public needs to understand much more about child abuse if they are going to feel empowered to cooperate in efforts aimed at ending it.  But what does the general public really need to know?  Likely not as much as a trained clinical therapist who helps adult survivors heal.  Perhaps not as much as a police officer called upon to investigate a serious allegation.  The question must be posed - what are the most useful public education goals?

Ken Dryden gave a poignant address on how life circumstance presents you with looking at things beyond you life experience. How difficult it is to grapple with those things, and even more how difficult it can be to talk with others about them.

Mr. Dryden spoke passionately about the hand, the role of the hand print in family bonding and history. He shared how discussion about the hands and the art could allow sharing that often could not be brought out with direct conversation about child abuse.

The primary purpose of the Child Abuse Awareness Advisory Forum was to clarify the essential information, messages, and perspectives that will help the general population play the most constructive and effective role in supporting those who have suffered child abuse and in preventing the abuse of the next generation of children.  The Board of Directors of the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project believes that these two dimensions of child abuse, healing and prevention, have value in being tackled in combination.

The information generated by the forum was included in a booklet and has been incorporated into a series of public information displays, accompanying artwork and writings by survivors.  The information will be shared with as many Canadians as possible as our public education displays tours coast to coast.  The information contained in this booklet will also be incorporated in videos and publications.

Public education facilitates healing to the personal and social wound of child abuse. Public education on child abuse assists victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse to address the issues of shame, worthlessness and isolation in a direct and dynamic way. 

A loss of personal power and a vulnerability to revictimization are unfortunate consequences of child abuse and child sexual abuse. 

Turning around those qualities of victimization are important elements to breaking the cycle of abuse for individuals, their families and their communities.

There is strong need for the public validation and social response which public education efforts provide. 

The vicarious social wound in discovering that so many individuals have been abused is often manifested in societal denial and distancing.  This often revictimizes and isolates survivors of child abuse and child sexual abuse.  By addressing these issues on a societal level, healing in the context of survivors’ communities is offered. 

Public education allows survivors to move into the public domain.  It prevents further misunderstandings to be cast upon survivors and prevents the victimization of innocent children.  It also informs the public about an appropriate response to child abuse - that healing is possible, and that it must happen now.

Dr. Irving's opening address to the Forum presented a picture of how the art work and accompanying information highlights would be speaking to the "general public" in galleries and "everyday" settings across the country. If your were sitting in an easy chair having casual conversation what would you want to communicate to someone about your focus groups topic on child abuse.

When the exhibit stops over at a gallery or "shopping centre" we wanted to address: What does the general public really need to know?



What Happened at the Forum?

The Child Abuse Awareness Advisory Forum was an extremely successful and moving event.  It was held at the Hincks Centre for Children’s Mental Health in Toronto, from May 22nd to 24th, 1998.  Over 120 Professional participants, service providers and survivors attended 30 workshops over the course of the weekend, from as far away as British Columbia, the Prairie Provinces, Quebec and Northern Ontario.

The participants were drawn from three uniquely knowledgeable stakeholder groups:

  • Child abuse survivors of various experiences;
  • Clinical professionals working directly with both child and adult survivors in their journey of healing and recovery;
  • Individual with personal or professional relationships with survivors and representatives of organizations supporting survivors or working with child abuse in non-clinical ways.

This collaboration of survivors, clinicians and non-clinicians was dynamic and vital.  People reported feeling strongly empowered.  The survivors felt that they had a long-denied voice, and that what they had to share had been heard.  Professionals and service providers felt that everyone was equal, and that this equality provided a unique opportunity for the development of effective, authentic and valid information.  Everyone felt safe.

Forum focus groups were held amongst the quilt square art placed around the Hincks Institute.

From the initial welcoming addresses on the Friday night, it was evident that this forum was unique.  Ken Dryden made an inspired, very personal speech about his journey over the past year - in coming to work at Maple Leaf Gardens, in meeting the survivors who had suffered abuse as youth visiting there, his reaction to the tragic death of Martin Kruze, and the need not only to know about abuse, but to understand why we don’t know better.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a federal MP (St. Paul's), family practitioner, obstetrician and feminist spoke very practically about advocacy, the need to listen to people and the confidence to let them tell you what needs to be done.  The need to change language, to speak about “survivors” rather than victims.  The importance of the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project, in that it makes it okay for people to tell, to come out.  The need for Canadians to understand and believe that we can make a difference.  We can create change.

Dr. Michael Irving, the founder of the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project spoke eloquently about the three common wounds of child abuse: shame, isolation and a loss of self worth, and the ways in which groups of people can heal through art, writing, painting, music and sculpture

Rob Hawkings, Chair of the Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project and Sanderson Layng, the Chair for the  Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness announced the strategic alliance formed between their agencies, and their delight in participating in the forum together.






Ken Dryden's final summation to the audience: You are the one's with knowledge gained from direct experience -- In your own words, "What do you want us to know?"
Two roving therapists were available to assist any and all who needed them. Thirty sessions were held all day Saturday and on Sunday morning.  Participants successfully developed five or more key messages for their topic areas.  These key messages, as well as the discussion behind them, are in the sections of this web site -- Types of Abuse; Impacts of Abuse and Responses to Abuse.

The closing plenary session on Sunday afternoon reflected the success and emotions of the weekend.  Facilitated by David Hasbury and Cathy Vine, participants offered up images of what the weekend meant to them:  a bridge over turbulent waters; a light switch being turned on; a new house with an open door; joined hands; smiling mouths; a red hand exploding out of a mountain; a well with water showering out of it with the words anxiety, frustration, fear... graphically recording the emotions, comments, words pouring out of participants.

Questions, ideas and comments coming out of the conference were shared.  Dr. Michael Irving connected the events and work of the forum with the aims of the Child Abuse Survivor Monument, and the events that would happen over the next three and a half years.

Ideas and strategies were put forward.  Some of the other suggestions: building on existing programs; digitization of the travelling art show onto the web site; the creation of a database of information and resources; a speakers’ bureau; the need to lobby politicians; new ways of investigating child abuse using art; the need for a central registry of services, directing people to help.

Diane Ellis, centre, was an extraordinary attribute in bringing out the media to several of our events. We identified our messages and worked with the journalists to allow the media to be a partner in our public awareness campaign.

In preparation groups David Hasbury, left, used his many coloured markers to create visioning map/drawings that guided the course of the forum planning.

Pattie Letourneau and Dr. Michael Irving compiled the raw data of the Forum into exhibit highlights, public service announcement themes, a booklet and other awareness resource materials.

Annmarie Ruttiman thanked all of the organizers of the forum and all of the participants.  Her commitment to the publishing of all of the information collected over the past three days was extremely heartfelt, and echoed the emotions which were clearly felt by everyone in the room. A powerful conclusion to an innovative and effective gathering

"Follow Site Web Ring"

I've seen it once and
I don't want to see it





The hand of a child
who will not be abused.
We can have this
dream come true.









Child abuse affects
us all, if one hurts,
We all hurt.
Life together!!




Child abuse affects
children of all voters!




Help kids live.
Stop the violence.





Every life counts.





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





is not discipline.
Raise a hand to a child
only to hold and
love them.
Abuse hurts!
Stop the hurt!





Reach Out to Parents
and caregivers.
No parent should feel
No child should be





Stop child abuse





Because every child
deserves to smile




"Why would you want to
hit little children?
What have they ever
done to you."
doesn't solve anything...
It only makes
things worse.





There is no excuse
for child abuse!








Hands should bring
someone close to you
not push them away.
Hands are for holding,
not for hurting.




together we are stronger
than along
Bruce and Austin

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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)

Your Donations are Needed
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* Donations *
* Story of the Monument/Phases of the Project * Phase 1: Design * Phase II: Create * Phase III: Implement * Phase IV:Positioning *
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* A Healing Monument * Monument as Social Action * A Gift for Allies in Healing *
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* Monument Conception/Creation * Monument Sculpting * Casting the Bronze *
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* Types of Abuse * Impacts of Abuse * Responses to Abuse *
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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)