Years ago my children (3 & 6) were shuffled through the criminal justice system after multiple reports of possible sexual abuse. I became very familiar with DCFS, intimidating interviews with special victims unit officers, and the Children's Justice Center. I came to find out that what I thought of as “justice” and how the system actually works were very different. If I had let the system tell me what healing looked like, or what we were supposed to do in order to achieve “a win”, I would have caused far more harm to my children and I would have lost my soul. When sexual harm comes to anyone - especially young children - there is tremendous fallout.
Consciously working through the impact of sexual abuse and all its ramifications makes people incredibly uncomfortable - it can destroy whole family systems (as it did mine). Yet, it is the only path that I know of that actually leads to healing. Not just our own personal stories of trauma, but the collective one as well. I am so passionate about inviting people to tell their own story in whatever way they can. It’s a complete game changer. It is incredibly powerful to witness people transform in front of themselves, it gives me chills every time. I’m not saying it’s easy, or “fun”, but the results keep me talking, drawing, painting, writing, breaking shit, and making shit, till the cows come home. I get so excited when people begin to shed their fear and gain true access to their real selves.
This painting is of our dog “Leo Leoni”. As an amputee, he was considered “hard to adopt”, but we thought he was a living example of resiliency as he rarely stopped. It made sense that his favorite activity was swimming. He’d swim for hours - a rope looped around his chest, pulling the kids behind him, in their little yellow plastic floaty boat. Most importantly, he was a constant companion for my son who only felt truly safe when he was with Leo (which was always). I don’t know how or why Leo changed, but by 6 or so, he was considered vicious by many. He had become our very own private three legged fire breathing dragon…. His story didn’t end in the happiest way, but he’ll always be my favorite!