This week marks the 22nd anniversary of my journey out of an abusive marriage. This is the week 22 years ago when I decided that I would no longer be emotionally manipulated, physically threatened and abused by my then-husband. I wish I could say that the abuse ended when I locked my first husband out of the house, but instead, for the next few months, things got worse. As is the case for many battered women, things got more dangerous when I attempted to end the relationship. I did all the right things--worked with domestic abuse advocates and the police. I filed an Order for Protection. And even then, things got worse. After he cut the brake hose of my car, I took my children and myself to a shelter for safety. Then I left my job and moved out of town.
I moved on in my life. I put my life back together and became a stronger woman. I have also worked as a social worker and have helped other women escape abuse. And as the recent Women's Press article shared, creating art was an important part of my healing from the abuse I endured so many years ago.
In the past few years, I've been working on a series of paintings that had their beginnings in the artwork that I first created following my divorce. I've titled the series Womanspirit Revisited. Force of Nature, the painting featured on the cover of MN Women's Press is one of the painting in the series. I exhibited this painting and two other paintings from the series at the recent Art Crawl.
This is the first time I've shared the painting Grace In Sorrow (I'm sharing photos here). I created this painting last winter. The words that I added to the woman's body are my own words about my own experience--it was written years ago for court. I know it is powerful--even difficult to view. I shared it with the encouragement of my loving, supportive husband. It was interesting watching the reactions of those who looked at it. The words on the body, not readable from a distance, drew in the viewer. Quite a few commented about how powerful the work was. One man had a hard time hearing that it was indeed my personal story--even when I told him it had happened over 20 years ago. (This is part of what I hope people think about--this type of thing happens to people you know. Some women don't survive--like the Minnesota woman who was recently murdered by her abuser when she tried to leave).
Sharing my story, through words or art, is no longer painful. I share it with the hope that it will have an impact. I share it to honor my experience. I share it with the hope that it will encourage other women...that they will feel the courage to move on, that they will not feel alone if they have faced similar experiences. And I share it to celebrate the power and courage of women everywhere.
And sharing this work was a powerful experience for me. I feel encouraged to continue on with this series. Someday I hope it will be its own exhibit. I think it would be very powerful.