Our partnerships with sexual assault agencies dates back to our collaboration in 1997 with One Safe Place in Shasta County, CA. Feeling a lack of safety is an ever present experience for sexual assault survivors, and having a compassionate person to bear witness in a safe environment can play a key role in moving beyond trauma. This atmosphere is exactly what the Windows curriculum fosters.
A Windows Facilitator at the Sanders County Coalition for Families used art at the courthouse with witnesses waiting to testify against their perpetrator. She shared, “So much healing happened in the room. I know that we had created a sacred container in which to hold these young women through what was probably one of the most difficult but empowering things they have ever, or will ever, do.”
Each year there are about 293,000 people sexually assaulted, 44% of whom are under the age of 18.* This sexual violence can have devastating psychological, emotional and physical effects on survivors — including self-blame, post traumatic stress, dissociation, self-harm, depression and substance abuse. Creating art can address these effects, giving survivors new perspectives on these difficult experiences. One AWBW participant wrote, “Through the art, I learned to internalize the statement that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. Making art allowed me to let go of the shame that has held me prisoner and halted my healing.”
Sexual assault survivors are sometimes only able to share their stories for the first time through art-making. An example is Joe, a 56-year old man with a history of childhood sexual abuse who participated in an AWBW workshop at Center for Community Solutions. The Windows Facilitator holding the workshop shared, “He is allowing all of the emotions that he never felt before to come out through a medium that allows for full non-judgmental expression.” Joe is not alone.
If you work with survivors of sexual assault and are interested in using the AWBW arts program with your clients, visit our Facilitator Trainings page for more info.