Overcoming Violence with Art

Vision Board by Nalani S. Kopp

What does it feel like to finally let it go?

The feelings of disappointment, mistrust, pain?

Like you can handle anything that comes your way.

Being a victim of violence does not make you weak,

Right now you might not feel that way,

But healing comes in phases, re-surges like stormy weather

Sometimes vocalizing your pain is unbearable

How could I represent the unimaginable with words?

As a victim of domestic violence, I would rather relate

My experience through a variety of art forms:

Dance, music, painting, and poetry.

Since what I experienced was an attack on my mind-body connection,

I spend each year strengthening this aspect of my life using ArtherapyHQ.

Some may say that victims should not complain about their experience nor seek pity, but I will tell you my story of healing not to gain your sympathy, but to inspire you to join a greater movement. We can stand together whether privately in a studio or publicly in a gallery. Everyone’s journey with violence is different, but I hope that the unique steps I took to re-building my self-image and positive sense of self can serve as a guide for those who seek new ways of healing.

We live in a society where therapy is taboo. Many traditional forms of therapy are not suited to an international, diverse culture. The reality is the field of Psychology is rooted in its own violence against women - take lobotomization for mad women as an example. (Imagine a doctor inserting a blade in your forehead to wipe craziness out of your brain.)

Women have consistently been represented as weak and emotional beings, so much so that feminists created a Mad Woman in the Attic theory. Men who cannot “handle” their women lock them away from others as to avoid public embarrassment.

These concepts of female sensitivity still exist in 2019 where consciously or not, women are passed over for leadership positions that are too demanding mentally. Perhaps for this reason, the women who “make it” harden their exterior, acquiring masculine characteristics, so that they may be seen as responsible for executive-level work. In a world where women suppress their gender identity in order to excel, participating in therapy is still seen as a sign of weakness.

If we could first get past the idea that seeking help is a sign of weakness, we would likely bring more healing arts into the world. At the same time, the therapies available should become more modern. Women do express themselves differently, and trauma victims have known difficulty with expression. Therefore, ArtherapyHQ proposes a new movement for therapeutic arts: one that incorporates various artistic modes of communication. The last thing women need is to be analyzed further under the male gaze.

Using mixed media in a 12-week program will expose women to revitalized methods of healing. We have built a community of change makers, who seek to innovate and grow the art therapy field. By coming together weekly, we find that we can begin to convey the unspeakable. Restoring our voices through movement, such as modern dance and yoga, we can rewrite our narratives. In times of need, we support each other. When solace is required, a safe space is provided. We are empowered as a community seeking to end violence against women.

If you would like to join the movement, please visit: www.artherapyhq.com

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