Written by Teresa Dixon, Women’s Opportunity Center Services Manager
For many individuals who have experienced intimate partner domestic violence (IPDV) the longing to share their stories can be a powerful influence in the move toward reclaiming their lives. It is a way to make sense of senseless experiences while also feeling they are contributing to the healing of others, a way of saying, “I am here and I am strong and you are too.” For many survivors of IPDV, sharing their story and experience is a part of a larger journey towards healing. “Never again! No one should experience what I’ve gone through” seems to be a refrain around which so many of us can connect as we dream of a world where intimate relationships are safe and nurturing.
As human beings, it is part of our nature to want to be seen and to contribute to the wellbeing of others. When we feel alone and lost in our experiences, sharing provides for connection, a way to reclaim wholeness. However, often opportunities to share are limited, happening in hidden moments behind closed doors, and when the rare opportunity to share publicly comes along, these are fraught with challenging considerations. Will I be safe? How will this impact my children or my extended family? Will this change the way people see me? Will I be pitied or empowered? Unfortunately, sharing one’s story publicly is not always a positive experience and often, unforeseen barriers to the wellbeing and safety of the individual and their children, can make sharing unsafe. Instead of creating needed connections, when those who have experienced IPDV share their stories publicly, they may feel exploited or may be at risk of further harm. The desire to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence, which impacts so many in our communities, moves out of focus and instead, sharing can become another barrier to remaining safe and seen as whole.
At YWCA Spokane, we believe it is important for survivors to have a platform to share their stories safely, to experience healing and restoration in the process, while also allowing for anonymity. Because our commitment to empowering those who have a desire speak out and raise their voices is so strong, in 2021 we will begin offering a new opportunity called STORY thanks to Spokane Arts SAGA Grant funding.
Through the Women’s Opportunity Center programing, clients can engage in sharing through art journaling and digital media, allowing participants to explore and express feelings they might not be able to speak of easily. As Georgia O’Keeffe famously stated, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way- things I had no words for.” STORY will offer a launch pad for sharing while also engaging with reflection in a way that is nurturing. Participants will receive an art journal, basic art supplies and supportive guidance through the process of telling their story. Then, for those interested, the journals will be digitized for sharing with the wider community (anonymously when preferred) in an online, digital library allowing for deeper connection between those impacted by IPDV and the broader community.
Through the healing power of art, participants will be offered a chance to begin making sense of and organizing painful experiences while gifting our community with resources to reflect on the realities of IPDV in Spokane and the Inland Northwest. When someone has experienced trauma, the connection to their innate creativity, an important part of our human essence, becomes disconnected and needs healing for us to remain resilient. STORY aims to provide those impacted by IPDV with tools to rebuild and reconnect, to come home to themselves once again, and to be seen and heard in the Spokane community and beyond.
Interested in learning more? If you or a loved one would like to share your STORY, please connect with Teresa Dixon at email@example.com.
YWCA SPOKANE IS HERE FOR YOU
If you or someone you know is impacted by intimate partner domestic violence, know that confidential advocates are always available through our 24hr helpline services by calling 509-220-2255, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or texting 509-220-3725.
To learn more about accessing additional services through YWCA Spokane during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit ywcaspokane.org/services.