It can be particularly difficult for children and teens to express their feelings, or even know what they are feeling, after experiencing abuse. As a Facilitator at Women’s and Children’s Crisis Shelter shared with us, the AWBW art program provides a safe space free of judgment, which is crucial to the healing process.
When 15-year-old Vanessa arrived at our shelter with her mother she was feeling defeated and hopeless. This shy girl wouldn’t make eye contact or trust anyone. I introduced her to the AWBW art workshops to help her express her feelings through art in a safe and healthy way. As time passed I could see her become more confident and begin to open up.
“She could finally express herself without feeling scared of getting hurt.”
One of Vanessa’s favorite workshops was The Monster in Me. In this workshop, participants are able to see themselves from a different perspective and share their feelings free of judgment. Vanessa named her monster “Blue” because it was broken and had been stepped on many times by her stepfather and relatives. Her monster had red eyes and Vanessa drew tears due to all the worries she had at home and the constant crying. She drew broken wings, which symbolized all the name-calling, hearing the words “unwanted,” “ugly,” and “I hate you.” Vanessa came into the shelter with no hope of becoming someone successful. Her monster wasn’t scary, funny or happy; it was sad, worried, hurt and overwhelmed.
It was after Vanessa completed her monster and shared it with the group that she said how much better she felt. She was able to release all those feelings in her drawing and finally let them go. AWBW helped this teen go through her healing process and express herself without feeling scared of getting hurt. When it was time for Vanessa to leave our shelter (program), she had regained hope. She and her mother knew this was just the beginning of something beautiful.