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A Window into a Survivor’s World

Stephanie is an 8-year-old girl who joined an A Window Between Worlds (AWBW) workshop for the Huntington Park Police Activities League after school program for troubled kids. According to the facilitator of the workshop, Stephanie was withdrawn, refused to speak, and never smiled. It wasn’t until the facilitator learned about her background that she began to understand why. “Stephanie came from a family with a long history of sexual abuse. Stephanie’s great grandma, then grandma, mom, and now her sister are all victims of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse.”

During an activity and art project called the Monster in Me, Stephanie finally opened up, took control, and painted her monster. On her monster, Stephanie drew tears that showed everyone just how much pain was hiding inside her soul. The project provided her with a safe place to open up and express herself allowing others – who understand – to see her pain, which in turn, allowed her to start the process of setting her pain free.

AWBW is a non-profit organization that uses art workshops to foster a feeling of safety and create a place for healing. Art acts as a window into the world of survivors of sexual, verbal, and physical abuse. The organization was founded in 1991, and it offers a variety of workshops and programs thatuse art in a way that would make a difference.” AWBW has found that their “program participants are able to express feelings in a different way, empowering them to reclaim self-worth and make meaning of their journeys.”

The organization offers a program for adult survivors of domestic violence, which allows them to deal with and move on from their trauma. The adult program helps survivors reclaim their lives and heal by creating art. According to the website, “Shared in a trauma-informed atmosphere, art-making can be both cathartic and restorative.” In 2015, the adult program helped 13,289 adults and held 5,760 workshops at 195 different sites.

AWBW also offers a program for children whose lives have been affected by violence. This program, like the adult program, offers a safe place for children affected by violence to “express their feelings, build self-esteem, and discover their hopes and dreams, often for the first time.” In 2015, the children’s program helped 10,525 children and held 6,316 workshops at 166 different sites.

The facilitator who worked with Stephanie has noticed just how much the art workshops have helped her. She says, “Stephanie has expressed so much in her art and over the past two years has grown, opened up, and rediscovered her smile.”

To get involved with AWBW  you can donate, become a volunteer, or become a monthly contributor. You can support the program by becoming an advocate who believes in the power art can create or you can donate to AWBW by shopping for t-shirts, greeting cards, and books on their website. Visit the website to learn more about how you can contribute to or join AWBW.

Through their programs and workshopsart truly becomes A Window Between Worlds in the hearts and lives of the [adults and] children [they] reach.”

Featured Image by daryl_mitchell on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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