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Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence through Art

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Important themes and considerations when addressing safety issues through art expression with youth and adult survivors of domestic violence.

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Finding a Safe Place: Creating Safety for Survivors of Domestic Violence through Art

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. 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.
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4.  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
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. 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)
  7. 7. Creating Safety The Experience Matters:•Honoring & validating trauma experience•Normalize trauma reactions•Early Intervention•Relational enrichment•Safe opportunities to share ones story
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. Emotional Depression Irritability Anger Fearfulness Anxiety Lack of affect
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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
  14. 14.  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.
  15. 15.  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.
  16. 16.  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
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. Restoring Safety“Loss of safety is at the core of trauma” Dr. William Steele, Helping Children Feel Safe
  19. 19. Material & Media ConsiderationsHelp provide containment at a sensory level experience for restoring safety through:BoxesBook makingMandalas3-D and 2-D Symbols of Safe Places
  20. 20. Safe Places & Safe Houses
  21. 21. 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.
  22. 22. Papier-Mâché Safety House Box
  23. 23. Safety Book
  24. 24. 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.
  25. 25. Safe Place Mandalas
  26. 26. Emotional Expression: Worries & Fear
  27. 27.  Fighting & Hurting Physical or Emotional Safety & Wellbeing Court, Legal, Social Services Proceedings Shelter Adjustment Separation & Divorce Custody & Visitation Arrangements Something “bad” happening again
  28. 28. Creating a boxto safely hold worries
  29. 29. Worry about Court and Fears about Testifying
  30. 30. Worry about Pets left behind or separated from
  31. 31. Emotional X-Ray Drawings: Scared & Frightened
  32. 32. Outside/Inside Masks | OutsideWhat feelings do you feel safe showing to others?
  33. 33. Outside/Inside Masks | InsideWhat feelings do you not feel safe showing to others?
  34. 34. Fostering Resilience
  35. 35. 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.
  36. 36. Dennis S. Charney, M.D (2004) Psychobiological Mechanisms of Resilience and Vulnerability: Implications for Successful Adaptation to Extreme Stress
  37. 37. Strength Bowls
  38. 38. Strength Boxes for Coping
  39. 39. Stones of Strength Word of strength, positive affirmation in permanent markerFeeling to let go & have less power in chalk Create a special container or fabric pouch to hold stones
  40. 40. Courage Stick
  41. 41. 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.
  42. 42. Creating a Creative Safe Space
  43. 43.  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.
  44. 44. 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
  45. 45. 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.
  46. 46. 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.
  47. 47. 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).
  48. 48.  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
  49. 49. 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).
  50. 50. 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.
  51. 51. 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.
  52. 52. Domestic Violence ResourcesCourage 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.pdfNational DV Hotline- www.thehotline.org
  53. 53. Gretchen Miller, MA, ATR-BC, CTC-S Registered Board Certified Art Therapist Certified Trauma Consultant gretchenmiller@cox.net www.gretchen-miller.com

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