Finding I CAN
A Window Between Worlds’ socially engaged art project, I CAN WE CAN, invites survivors and the broader community to move the threshold of what WE CAN do to help end domestic violence and sexual assault. The following story from Laura Maldonado of South Gate Police Department Family Violence Prevention & Education Program gives a glimpse into how art provides a turning point for survivors to embrace change and bring voice to I CAN.
I have been working with a 45-year old Latina woman, who has one 11-year old child. In 2012, this client was pleased to announce to our support group that she had finally started the divorce process that she had contemplated for many years. Seven months later, right before the divorce was finalized, her husband asked for another opportunity to make their marriage work. She agreed and returned home with him, hoping for her happily ever after.
Three months later, the client unexpectedly walked into our support group in tears and shared that nothing had changed. Her husband was just as verbally and psychologically abusive as before. She said she was ashamed for having “fallen” for his “tricks” again and felt that her support system was tired of her back and forth with him.
“I CAN do it. I did it once and I can do it again…I CAN WE CAN gave me the final push I needed.”
At the time of the I CAN WE CAN project, the client was struggling with the decision of if, how, and when she should proceed with a new divorce proceeding. During the workshop, she reflected, cried, and listened. At the end of the workshop, she stated that she felt renewed and motivated. She said, “Si yo no lo hago, ¿quién lo va hacer por mí?” (If I don’t do it, who is going to do it for me?) “Yo lo puedo hacer. Lo hice una vez y lo voy a lograr otra vez. Esta vez no voy a caer en sus trampas otra vez.” (I can do it. I did it once and I can do it again. This time I am not going to fall into his traps).
And she did just that. Her divorce was finalized last month. Ultimately, she received less financial support than what she was scheduled for initially, but she said she would give all the money back in order to have the peace of mind that she has now. The client has stated that the I CAN WE CAN project gave her that final push that she needed in order to move forward with the divorce.