At the core of NVRDC’s approach to supporting survivors is our commitment to survivor defined justice. The person directly impacted by the crime should be defining what justice looks like for them. NVRDC seeks to support clients in both defining what justice looks like for themselves and achieving this vision. However, the criminal legal system is not always an option or even the best option for everyone. For individuals who choose not to engage with this system we hope to offer other ways of achieving healing and justice.
One way we offer an opportunity for survivors and their support networks to understand what happened, process their feelings around the event, and build connections with others is through our Share Your Story Event. NVRDC provides food and beverages, paint and brushes, and other art supplies to survivors during Share Your Story and a NVRDC case manager facilitates a dialogue for survivors to participate in.
“Colors, shapes and textures become a means to both express and transform inner experiences, increasing a feeling of agency. It is a space rich with both meaning and healing.” said Audrey Meshulam, an NVRDC bilingual advocate and facilitator of Share Your Story in past years.
Many survivors often donate their art work back to NVRDC to be featured and auctioned off at our Annual Benefit in November, and in doing so support other survivors through the proceeds raised from their art.
And NVRDC is not the only organization offering this type of opportunity. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center in partnership with the StoryCenter has offered a series of webinars that discuss various components to story telling and sexual trauma. In Pennsylvania, Bloom Creative Studio offers women who have experienced gender-based violence an opportunity to heal through trauma-informed art therapy. And there are many examples of one-off events that offer survivors space to heal through art including the Survivors of Violence Art Exhibit hosted by Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center.
Survivors and their support network are invited to participate in Share Your Story. We believe that Share Your Story offers a unique entry point into survivors’ feelings about their experience.
“In past years, Share Your Story attendees have created a very special space during the workshop, where emotions are welcome and present but we can engage with them in a different way than we do every day,” said Meshulam.
We are hoping that this year’s Share Your Story will be no different, offering survivors a safe space to process their feelings and build community with one another.