Art Therapy Helps Victims and Children Heal

October 21, 2016

“If something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, that’s because it isn’t. Trust your instincts.” That’s the advice a domestic violence victim served by YWCA Central Alabama has for others who wonder if they are in unhealthy relationships.

Her statement was part of a project during a recent art therapy class led by Marlyse Hirschy, a counselor at the YW. The class allows victims to “share the hope, strength, beauty, and ways of coping that they have created out of their broken places,” Hirschy said.

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, women who have experienced domestic violence and children who have witnessed it, recently created art projects as part of the healing process. The project for the women, “Pearls of Wisdom,” consisted of pearls the women made from foil, yarn and tissue paper, along with statements about what they have learned.

The children created superheroes with very special powers. After writing down their hopes and concerns, the children wrapped them around the bodies of the figures they created from pipe cleaners, tulle and fabric. The resulting superheroes are strong enough to hold their wishes and worries.

 “They were able to create something beautiful from their pain,” Hirschy said of the participants. By reflecting on the trauma and how they survived it, they were able to better process their feelings.

One survivor summed up her transformation wonderfully. “Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it woke up a beautiful butterfly,” she wrote.

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