Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence through Art
Finding a Safe Place:Creating Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence through Art Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, CTC-S Registered Board Certified Art Therapist Certified Trauma Consultant
Objectives Learn the benefits of using art to address safety in trauma intervention and recovery with domestic violence survivors Be able to identify how safety, resilience, and adaptive coping can be explored through art Be introduced to appropriate material & media considerations to create a safe creative environment and to explore fears & worries.
About Domestic ViolenceDomestic violence (also called interpersonal or intimate partnerviolence) is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. ~National Domestic Violence Hotline | www.thehotline.org
Domestic abuse is when a partner uses a pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviors to obtain power and control; Coercion is defined as “to force to act or think in a certain way by use of pressure, threats, or intimidation or to compel; to dominate, restrain, or control forcibly; and to bring about by force or threat.”; What makes a relationship abusive is the repeated and patterned behavior by a partner that attempts to control aspects of the other person’s life through manipulation, fear, bullying, and multiple other coercive tactics. Ohio Domestic Violence Network: www.odvn.org
Domestic Violence Physical, sexual, Linked to increased emotional, economic or medical, psychological, psychological actions and social problems. or threats. Battered women suffer Behaviors that frighten, more health disorders intimidate, terrorize, vs. non-victims: i.e. manipulate, hurt, PTSD, substance humiliate, blame, injure, abuse, anxiety, or wound. depression
Domestic Violence & Safety Increase risk when a victim leaves Personalized (Emotional) Safety Planning Protection Orders, Court Fleeing to a Shelter / Safe Housing Adaptive coping- women & children Normalize trauma reactions & triggers Safety is fluid and can change quickly Safety Planning in a Trauma Informed Manner- ODVN Best Practices and Protocols for Ohio’s Domestic Violence Programs (2011)
Creating Safety The Experience Matters:•Honoring & validating trauma experience•Normalize trauma reactions•Early Intervention•Relational enrichment•Safe opportunities to share ones story
Physical Impact Hormone coritosal is released by the brain to respond to impending threat Causes increase in adrenalin, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension Sleep disturbances Heightened state of arousal Hyper vigilance / Startle response Miller, G. (2008). Bruce Perrys Impact: Considerations for Art Therapy & Children from Violent Homes: http://tinyurl.com/6mlqqtv
Themes:•Safety & protection: inclusion of alarms,cameras, computersurveillance, videos•Fear of fire, someone breaking in•Image and verbalizations suggest anxiety,heightened watchfulness,title projects fear ofexplosiveness, violence inthe home
Behavioral Aggression Regression Nightmares Separation Anxiety Oppositional Repetitive play Miller, G. (2008). Bruce Perrys Impact: Considerations for Art Therapy & Children from Violent Homes: http://tinyurl.com/6mlqqtv
Emotional Depression Irritability Anger Fearfulness Anxiety Lack of affect
Cognitive Decrease in attention span Difficulty concentrating Memory Impairment Persistent intrusive thoughts & images Confusion around traumatic event Poor self image and self esteem Miller, G. (2008). Bruce Perrys Impact: Considerations for Art Therapy & Children from Violent Homes: http://tinyurl.com/6mlqqtv
Creating Safety through Art BENEFITS Art making is a safe way to distance painful and frightening experiences from self and the environment Art safely externalizes internal experiences Art can help reduce, contain, or provide insight into states of fear, anxiety, and worry
Creative expression through art can be less threatening to explore and share feelings or memories, as well as provide the flexibility to experiment, and take risks in a therapeutic environment; Exploration through art can help the survivor begin to manage trauma and make meaning.
Art expression facilitates an immediate hands-on outlet for survivors to feel safe, explore steps for change, reduce stress, decrease tension; Creativity and imagination restores a sense of possibility, identity, and reconnection within the Malchiodi & Miller, 2012. self; Domestic Violence and Art Therapy. In Malchiodi, C. (Ed.), The Handbook of Art Therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press. pp. 335-349.
Artcan find and create a voice that was silenced in the violence and abuse; Artoffers a safe place to tell a survivor’s story and experiences with dignity & courage Malchiodi & Miller, 2012
Objectives•Art experiences that make one feel safe•Environment of predictability & consistency•Sensory based intervention•Promotes expression•Restores a sense of safety & stabilization•Fosters resiliency•Supports adaptive coping
Restoring Safety“Loss of safety is at the core of trauma” Dr. William Steele, Helping Children Feel Safe
Material & Media ConsiderationsHelp provide containment at a sensory level experience for restoring safety through:BoxesBook makingMandalas3-D and 2-D Symbols of Safe Places
3-D Paper House Making •Repetitive, here & now focus through the paper folding process •Containment of emotions connected to worry, fear, uncertainty •Opportunity for symbolic storytelling (Miller, (2011). Paper house making with youth exposed to domestic violence PDF: http://tinyurl.com/7nalsau.
Portable Safe Place | Artist Trading Card Using collage with printed paper, tissue paper, and magazine photo collage & words on a 2 ½ x 3 ½space- create an image of asafe place or scene that can travel, become mobile, or easily be carried as a visualreminder and grounding tool for wellbeing, comfort, and emotional safety.
What is Resilience? The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as “the ability to adapt wellto adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress”. “Resilience is important because it is the human capacity to face, overcome and be strengthened by or even transformed by the adversities of life”. Pizzolongo, P.J. & Hunter, A. (2011). I am safe and secure. Promoting resiliency in young children. Young Children, 66(2): 67-69.
Dennis S. Charney, M.D (2004) Psychobiological Mechanisms of Resilience and Vulnerability: Implications for Successful Adaptation to Extreme Stress
About Post Traumatic Growth (PTG)Positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances Martin P. Seligman, Ph.D., MD, leading researcher, author and professor in positive psychology notes: Often Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG) occurs much more than the onset of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Individuals who experienced one awful event had more intense strengths (and therefore higher well-being) than individuals who had none. Traumatic events could lead to transformation and growth.
Make sure there is enough physical/table space to create comfortably. Select and create a safe space that communicates permission to freely create without worry about messiness and can be cleaned up easily.
Material Planning & Prep When planning to incorporate art making be mindful that different art materials and media can have different emotional effects Consider how materials that are being introduced and their properties may impact the client internally On the continuum of art material properties, drawing media offer the most control, while media such as paint and water-based clay can quickly stimulate expression and regression
Material Planning & Prep Create a balance and experience of material offerings that empowers choice, decision making, and control without over stimulating; Pre-structuring materials can help decrease feelings of being overwhelmed easily and create containment.
Additional Considerations Art materials do not have to be of "fine art" quality or expensive, but also should work well and more importantly, not add frustration the art making experience. Art materials should be treated and offered to the group with respect by the therapist, as this reflects additional meaning and importance connected to the experience.
Creating a Safe Environment for Art Expression Provide an environment that allows the client to freely create without judgment Show your interest in the clients art through inviting him/her to share Prompt invitations to share with: "Tell me about your picture...“ Actively listen to what the client has to say about his/ her art expression Schirrmacher, J. (1986).
Make observations about the clients art without interpretations or assumptions Create opportunities to encourage storytelling about the art expression Focus on the art expressions design qualities: color, placement, line, shape, form, texture, energy Thank the client for sharing, whether this is talking about his/her art and/or showing what they have created
What to Avoid: Compliments about the clients art or the expectation that their art should be pleasing and "look good" Comments about the art product that are judgmental or interpreting in nature Valuing the product over the process Direct questions that make the creator feel they did something wrong (i.e. "What is that?", "Why did you draw that?") Telling an individual the "right" way to make or create something. This inhibits sincere expression. Schirrmacher, J. (1986).
ReferencesCharney, D.S. (2004). Psychobiological Mechanisms of Resilience and Vulnerability: Implications for Successful Adaptation to Extreme Stress.Malchiodi, C. & Miller, G. (2012). Domestic Violence and Art Therapy. In Malchiodi, C. (Ed.), The Handbook of Art Therapy (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press. pp. 335-349.Pizzolongo, P.J. & Hunter, A. (2011). I am safe and secure. Promoting resiliency in young children. Young Children, 66(2): 67-69.Schirrmacher, J. (1986). Talking with young children about their art. Young Children, 41(5): 3-7..Steele, W., Malchiodi, C., & Klein, N. (2002). Helping Children Feel Safe. National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children.
Domestic Violence & the Arts Resources A Window Between Worlds- www.awbw.org Dedicated to using art to help end domestic violence. SpeakArtLoud- www.speakartloud.org Innovative social-profit organization that uses the arts to empower women and improve communities. Be a Voice Arts- www.beavoicearts.com Using the arts to speak up about abuse.
Domestic Violence ResourcesCourage Networkwww.couragenetwork.org A resource, community, andinspiration for victims, advocates, families,friends and those dealing with domesticviolence in their personal lives.Ohio Domestic Violence Network- www.odvn.org Trauma Informed Care DV Best Practices & Protocol: www.odvn.org/images/stories/FinalTICManual.pdfNational DV Hotline- www.thehotline.org