1:4 #21, The Alternative Model

Survivor at Waters Edge

Please Share What Happened to You:

I was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship for the better half of 8 years. At first things were great and loving but over time I was worn down by his controlling behavior. Through his hand I was introduced to pain killers and we became addicted. This made it easier for him to control me. I shut out all my friends and family at its worst because I knew I wasn’t strong enough to walk away. It began with verbal threats and mockery and turned into me getting slapped, choked, dragged across the floor and stomped on. When I fought back he hit harder. I became suicidal and self harmed. He once put a knife in my hand and told me to kill myself. He had me convinced no one loved me. This continued until the day he left me.

Survivor showing her cutting scars

 

How are you now?

Survivor talking about her experience

These days I am doing much better! It took me a while to heal and move on but I am now in a very loving and supportive relationship. I will always have hurt in my heart but I also have much more room left for love.

I’m happy also to announce that I have been drug free since getting out of said toxic relationship. I am healthy and look forward to a more positive future. You can’t change the past but you can grow from it.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

If you are in a domestic violence situation, speak up. You have to be heard to get help. I was cowardly and ignored the signs. Looking back, hindsight is 20/20, I know I should have left before it even began. You are not at fault, and you are not alone. You are loved! (Editor’s note: I told this survivor I didn’t think she was cowardly, rather she had been broken, which is part of the process many abusers use to get their way… )

Survivor with light in her hair

1:4 #20, The Golden Girl

(Editors Note: I’ve said many times that I get contacted after every post by other survivors who are thankful for the project, even if they can’t come forward.  This Survivor came to my first show, and found great healing from it. I have to tell you, I was more than a little proud and thankful for the healing power this site and these stories have…The Golden Girl is a reference to this survivor’s passion for Golden Retrievers, not the 80s sitcom! ) 

Please Share What Happened to You:

When visiting David’s opening of his work on Domestic Violence in Dover, I was flooded with memories, feelings and grief. I knew it was important for me to visit but I never realized the emotional impact it would have on me. I was emotionally and verbally abused by my parents from the moment I was born and probably in utero. I walked on eggshells never knowing when another shoe would drop or when I would be chastised for any number of offenses. To protect myself, I became a great reader of social cues and threatening behaviors. Although food was a great source of comfort for me, reading my parents’ mood was a gift and survival technique. Growing up was not about developing self- esteem, building self-confidence or finding my place in this world. It was about doing whatever necessary to please my parents and everyone I met from a total stranger to family member. It was about accommodating the needs of others. I lived in fear that my cover would be blown and people would find out that I was a horrible person. If my parents didn’t like me then who else could possibly like me? I lived a lifetime with parents who lacked their own self worth and the cycle continued

The sea has great healing power

How are you now?

The abuse did not stop even after I moved out on my own. I learned to handle it better. It was so important for me to grieve my dysfunctional childhood. I cried my heart out many times. My body and my psyche had internalized everything that was said and done to me for a lifetime. It is had become part of the brain neurons. Fortunately, I have learned to love myself and to value myself. I have learned that it is okay to have my own opinion and do what is best for me. I have learned to have self – compassion. I have learned that I can build new healthy, loving pathways in my brain so that I can feel joy. It is a journey. I have laspes. Anxiety, depression, food addiction and co-dependency are still part of my life. The difference is now they are not who I am but just a part of life. They no longer debilitate me. When they do appear, I can say,” Oh those again. That is an old story that I don’t need anymore.” I take one day at a time. My parents are deceased and I love them. I learned that I can believe my thoughts and old stories and suffer or I can check in with myself and find the joy and love that I deserve.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

I want everyone to know that his or her journey and trauma is like no other journey or trauma. The skills and tools I have learned work for me. Each of us finds our way at our own pace and with our own strategies. The priority is to love oneself and know that no one has the right to demean or abuse of us in any way. We are precious and unique and are lovable and loved. We need to hug ourselves and spend time with positive and supportive people who will stand by us no matter what. We can make a positive, joyful life for ourselves and the kindness needs to start at home in our hearts. My hope is that we can have compassion for others and more importantly compassion for ourselves.

Videos about the Site and other related issues

I’ve been inspired by Brooke Shaden to start creating work, and posting it daily for 15 days. This is the third day and so far, so good. 3 Vlogs up on YouTube! I’ve created a page that you can see the link to just under the title bar of the site. It’s called ” Videos about the project”. Check them out! Subscribe to the channel on YouTube too!

 

 

1:4 # 19, “Yeya”

(ed note: This survivor’s first language is Spanish. “Yeya” is a loving term for “grandmother” in Spanish, a role this survivor enjoys more than any other!)

Please Share What Happened to You:

I grew up thinking that being beaten almost every day was a “normal acceptable thing”

I wasn’t a “daddy’s girl” like some of my school friends or these beautiful family movies I used to watch. I often ask myself “Why?”

The earliest beating I remember I was five years old. I can’t remember what was the reason why my father beat me up but I do remember is how he did it.
He came in from work drunk, he picked me up by the hair, started shaking me from side to side and threw me against the concrete wall. I also remember my mother’s face, she was terrified, pale, with her hands on her face standing in the corner .
Once my father finished beating me up, she picked me up, took me to my bedroom and put ice in a wash cloth and held it on the back on my head. it was so cold and I was so confused.
This kind of beatings, savage beatings,  were so often that I considered normal for years, if it wasn’t me, was my oldest brother or my middle brother, but more often was me.

One day I asked my mother why my father hated me so much.. she said “you are a female, the last name dies with you” – I didn’t understand at the moment if my mother also blamed me from not being a “boy.

My father used to hit me with his fists or kick me with steel toe boots,  or use belts or any other object he could find. Time out? Oh yeah he used those too, he made me kneel on tin lids that he specially customized for my time out sessions by poking holes and making me kneel on the side where you could honestly grate anything, and the minimum was an hour. I still have the scars.

He would often say ” Don’t ever think that I have any love for you” quite often.

After 15 years of his abuse, I decided to report him to social services, the employee was livid and terrified by the statement.
She did her part, I didn’t have a full understanding on what was supposed to happen, I was just hoping they will remove him from home.
Suddenly, 3 police cars arrived at my house, my father was reading the news paper on the porch as he often did, one of the officers got out of the car and explained the reason why they were there , then he said to my father “take care of that situation so we don’t have to go any further”. See my father was well known and had a lot of influence not only in our town but within the whole Island.

Knowing that I had 3 younger siblings, I confronted my father and I even threatened him with death if he ever laid a hand on any of my 3 younger siblings.

That was the last time my father beat me. He never touched my younger brother again  and the two younger siblings were never beaten.

I felt like I always had to protect not only my younger siblings, but also my mother.

When I reached 19 years old I met the father of my two sons. I never married him. I continued to be a victim, accepting not only beatings from him but also sexual abuse. When my first son was 9 months and I was pregnant with my second child, my mother’s sister sent me to Delaware … she was tired of seeing me with bruises.

How did I get out of it and went from a victim to a survivor? My father’s younger sister, aunt and godmother played a big role in my life. She was always very loving and supportive of me, she helped me to understand that my father and my mother were wrong and that it wasn’t my fault, but the strength, that one came on May 25th 1992 .. the day I had my first son.  I was born the same day he was born. He gave me a reason to fight, he gave me the strength, that day I decided to survive and not to take abuse from anyone ever again.

How are you now?

I also faced suicide, I lived for my sons, this will make sense to you as I tell you my story.
My sons gave me a reason to fight and to put all my fears, bad memories and pain on the back burner.
They are 18 months apart so it was like raising twins.
When they became teens, they needed me less and less, so I thought during that time. My mind found time to remember the awful things I went through an depression settled in. During the same time my work laid off everyone, the severance package wasn’t enough and finding a job in the financing industry was difficult because of the mortgage bubble.  Desperation and anxiety,  added to my depression,  drove me to over dose with anxiety medication. I felt my sons were better off without me. I wanted to stop the pain and I wanted my sons to have a better future. That’s the problem when you have been physically and emotionally abused by the man that is supposed to protect you. My oldest son found me and called 911, I was in the hospital for a while. It is still very difficult for me to talk about this.
I Regret what happened, I wasn’t in control at that time. That’s all I can say about that at this moment.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

It is important to seek for professional help, but it’s also more important to have support from your love ones. Unfortunately, mental health and Domestic Violence are a big hush hush in this society and even more in the Hispanic or Latino culture.

The Education of Dave: A Talk I Gave Last Week

Some folks that heard my talk. I’m the 2nd from the left in jeans and blue and white shirt. Photo by a club member.

I gave a talk last week to the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club in Millsboro, Delaware at their early morning meeting. I was invited to do so by an acquaintance that knows about my project and is a member of the Club. I was grateful for the opportunity and a little nervous about what to say about this project and so on. I decided to call it “The Education of Dave”. I talked about going from knowing of domestic violence from TV and one or two survivors, to finding out the national statistics are 1 woman in 4 will experience it here in the US. I talked about part of my education being that pretty much every woman in the US has already been or is going to be intimidated, groped, otherwise assaulted or killed by a guy (or more than once).  This was related to me by a few of the survivors and confirmed when I talked to (many!) other women about my project and none said “Oh, no Dave, it’s not every single woman” I talked a little about the Still Waters show and it’s affect on folks and some of the photographic choices we made for the project too.The Rotary members thanked me at the end of the talk. They were kind, gracious and sharing. Perhaps a little shaken too.

An interesting aside: In part of my talk, I talked about posting the very first survivor’s post, and how I spent about 20 minutes ready to hit the publish button, but wondering if it was going to help, had I done everything right, would there be harm to the survivor and so on. At the end of the meeting, it is the custom of  Rotary Clubs to stand and and recite  one of their Guiding Principles  called The Four Way Test:

“Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

I was struck that the last two elements were closely tied to this project and my hesitations before publishing the first post. Slightly modified I wanted to be sure the project and posts would build up survivors and help others who needed it, and would it be safe and beneficial to all.
A couple of observations:

  • This isn’t a particularly fun subject at it’s core. I felt like i was leading some folks through the Holocaust Museum. Folks want to know, but facing evil straight on is hard…
  • I could tell a few folks were hurting from it. They thanked me at the end for giving the talk, but I need to figure out what to do with that when it happens. I suspect it’s going to happen any time I give a talk on the subject or the project. I tried to handle it with grace and empathy.
  • At the end of the talk, one of the ladies related that she had been groped at the Pumpkin Chunkin event just a few months ago. This stuff is a real battle Every.Damned.Day for the women in our country. I never knew til a few years ago.  The Social Justice Warriors call that “Male Privilege”. It used to irritate me to hear that term, but, if the shoe fits… I’m doing my best with this project to help others, but yeah…
  • Domestic Violence is ugly. It’s hidden for lots of reasons. I’ve been processing my reaction to giving the talk for the last week. The talk was hard to do, and the processing probably still isn’t over. Truth be told, I felt a little beat up afterwards. (Not by the Rotary club, they were awesome!) This is rough stuff. However…  I signed up for the job of talking about it to bring it into the light. If the survivors can share their stories, I can do my job by honoring that trust and sharing their stories and truths with others. We can make a difference. Maybe not for all the starfish, but certainly for the ones we can reach.

Thanks again to the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club for the invitation to share the project.

If you’d like me to talk about the project at your meeting or event,  please contact me!

1:4 # 18, The Author, Advocate, and Realtor

   Hidden at the trunkPlease share what happened to you:

I remember the first time he hit me as if it were yesterday.  I found a phone number in his blue jeans and was apprehensive about questioning him.  I waited to the day of my girlfriend’s party to ask him about it. I figured the car ride over would be the perfect opportunity because he couldn’t walk away, giving us an opportunity to discuss it reasonably.  Boy was I wrong, because when I finally got up the courage to ask, I was immediately slapped across the face.  The force was so strong that my head hit the passenger side window. I was in a complete shock. My next reaction of course was to strike back, but when I did, he became hysterical, recklessly driving the car and yelling he would kill us.  The mother in me took over, I had my six month old in the car. I calmed myself and politely asked him to calm down, reminding him that our son was in the car.  He did finally as we were pulling into the subdivision of my girlfriend’s event. He then pulled up to the address where my girlfriend was standing outside greeting guest and hopped out of the car smiling and acting as if nothing had happened. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself or ruin my girlfriend’s party, so I went along with the charade, I put on “the mask” smiling and pretending as if nothing happened.  Looking back on that day I realize that it was the beginning of a physical abuse cycle.
Every six months for the next 18 years I received either a push, slap, pin down or choke.  Did I ever wear a black eye?  Was there any broken bones, or deep punctured skin? No..No…and…No! But, if you know like I know, emotional abuse leaves even deeper scars. The push, slaps, chokes and pin downs, once every six months along with the threat to do more, was enough to make me feel as if I was always walking on egg shells.  I met him when I was only 20 years old and he made me feel as if it was he and I against the world.  He always wanted to be with me. I just wasn’t use to that much attention and it truly played on my ego. I thought to myself, “wow this guy really loves me”.  I left my parents home, a young mother into an isolated world.  I was embarrassed to talk to family members and kept from maintaining friendships out of fear of a physical episode.  The constant episodic verbally attacks and not to mention the sexual assault when I withheld was difficult to avoid.

For 18 years my life was an emotional roller coaster, one with few highs and many lows.  I wore “the mask” daily.  To the outside world, I was a beautiful, confident force to be reckoned with, but behind closed doors, I was fighting to keep my head up.  The emotional abuse kept me feeling insecure, depressed and most of all trapped.  My relationship with God however kept me going, when asked, I received inner peace and the strength to mother my kids and to be the confident women that most people saw.

Looking

In a desperate moment for not only peace, I belted out a desperate prayer for change.  I asked for God to take over my life and to heal my family. It was placed on my conscience to do a 40 day fast.  I questioned this notion at first and challenged it. I requested signs. I asked God to give me clarity during those 40 days.  I wanted him to give me signs and make it clear of his path for me. I desperately wanted to keep my family. I often heard older Christians say that God could do anything, well I wanted him to heal my family, but I was committed to being obedient to the fast and to his will.  During that 40 day fast, God communicated with me! I felt so honored to have this connection. He gave me all the signs I needed to know that his will was for me to leave… and I was obedient! On that 42nd day, a man that hadn’t left my presence for more than 3 hours, decided to go out of town. It was my opportunity. I packed my things and left!

How are you now?

Confidence

I was under attack for over a year; abusers become very angry when they lose control. My tires were slashed.  My car was stolen and the constant harassment was almost unbearable.  This kept me in a constant reactive state of mind.  However, today after counseling, both a protective and stalking order, I am happy to say that I am finally “free”.  I am free to be the confident woman that people see today and to also no longer be ashamed to share my story.

You see I knew on that 42nd day after my fast that I had a purpose. I was to share my story to inspire and empower others. Understanding the reactive state of mind, my goal is to help women become more proactive after abuse. I began to advocate the cause for domestic violence awareness and even co-authored, Wounds to Wisdom the Survivor Series, where I share a snippet of my story.  Working as an advocate I saw a need to unify local advocacy efforts. There are many local nonprofits making a difference in our communities with very little support.  Just imagine what these local organizations could do if the sponsorship was there.
This need brought about the #purplefulife campaign. Purple is the color associated with noble efforts of giving back, as well as purpose and passion.  You can see the color plastered all over most advocacy campaigns, as well used in terms as “purple our world” or “paint the town purple” and it’s even the color of choice to honor Americans who risked there  lives for change with the “purple heart award”. Living a purplefulife is one of giving back.  To advocate could be as simple as openly sharing about a cause you believe in.  The #purplfulife campaign utilizes social media to unify advocacy reports in an effort to bring forth awareness, create a space for advocacy recognition and gain support from the community, by simply using the hashtag.  Any one can advocate to help unify advocacy efforts by simply sharing a mediated post, selfie or cause. Today I’m working to make advocacy the new “sexy”.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

First and foremost I’d like to say that Domestic Violence is real. The statistics are real and in most cases underrepresented.  These are our mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts.  We can’t forget about our men. Men can be victims too. We must continue to talk about this issue. I truly believe that breaking the silence is what breaks the cycle of abuse. A goal of the #purplefulife campaign is to get people talking and sharing their experiences.  Let’s use the power of social media to share and keep the conversations going in an effort to bring awareness and put an end to this ugly epidemic. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world.  Care to share post of your own or others with the hashtag #purplefulife and let’s break the silence!

Knowing

1:4 #17,The Persevering Student and Activist Who Loves Cats and All Things Weird

Looking away Please share what happened to you:

I feel my life and relationships have always been tumultuous and I have been fighting for a long time to gain control and power for myself. I did not have a normal life growing up as a child or as an adolescent and my father was emotionally absent during my developmental and adolescent years. I suppose having not that typical paternal love and nurture fostered me to believe I had to physically and sexually give myself to a man in order to keep him in my life, to please him, or to make him happy. I have been through a lot, but I have met women who have been through much worse than I; however, we all share a similar emotional struggle and burden that deeply and resolutely saddens my heart.

The start of it all happened when I was a child. My next-door neighbor molested me when I was in preschool and to this day I do not know where he is or what happened to him. I remember as a teenager a guy friend coming over asking for sexual favors before he was “moving” the next day and he said I would never see him again. It turns out that this was a lie. All I can recall is my brother was downstairs in the basement of our house with his friends when this was occurring, I do not know where my parents were, and this guy “friend”, who wanted sexual favors from me, was wearing sunglasses and high off of cocaine while his friend waited outside. Having these experiences pushed me into a psychological state where I did not know how to love myself, believe, or trust men in general.

When I met my first serious boyfriend, it lasted for five years. I remember the volatile dynamics of our relationship where every two to three months we would have an explosive fight, which always resorted in me being called a “bitch”, or I had to grovel in apology. I was gaslighted numerous times where I would become confused and I could not think straight. I felt I was never strong enough to stand in my power or to keep my voice in fear I would be dehumanized or publicly humiliated. He was always afraid of me leaving him or finding someone different and sometimes I did but I would always go back to him. He would tell me he did not deserve my love or deserve me. There was one incident where I remember we had had a fight and he drove my car 110 mph on the interstate system and we reached a spot where he wanted to talk and he took my car keys and all I wanted to do was go home. There were times where I felt safe, unsafe, and in danger. It was a vicious and cyclical process of instability. Our relationship was like oil and water. A toxic love per se. We shared numerous intoxicating moments but there was never a balance to negate the intensity of the verbal and emotional manipulation.

What ended the tumultuousness of our relationship was on my 26th birthday. I was in class at my university presenting on the dynamics of cancer and availability of social services for cancer patients and the plan was for him to pick me up after class. As soon as I saw him I knew something was wrong or bad had happened. I found out later that he had an argument with his mother and he had hit her. We started arguing in the car and I remember going home and the argument had continued from there. We took a nap and then it started all over again. I went to my car to escape and soon after he found me. He threw open the door and wrapped his hands around my sweatshirt and neck shaking me saying, “I fucking loved you” and started mentioning the name of my guy friend who had been there for me recently when I was in a downtrodden emotional state. I knew he sneaked through my journals and read letters or entries of me thanking my friend for being who he was or giving me support. I remember my head hit the top of the car window and my nose started to bleed. I was crying and I wanted to go inside to call my grandfather or my dad for help but he blocked me and wouldn’t let me inside. In desperation, I tried to force myself past him and he threw my entire body at the car and I fell to the ground. I remember my neighbor walking outside yelling at him to not put his hands on me again or he would kick his ass. After that, he fled out of fear or finally came to the realization what he had done. Possibly both.

Sipping coffee

How are you now?

There are moments and times where it can be difficult especially in my romantic relationships with men but I have found ways to cope and persevere. It can be challenging to trust and I often enter fight mode when a male authoritatively confronts me because I am afraid of losing control of the situation, losing my power, not having a voice, or fear of having the same emotional and verbal manipulation occurring again.  I feel like I have healed tremendously since that time but I still quiver in regards to the word “bitch” or when I hear about women being beaten or held against their will. It’s hard. It’s hard on my romantic relationships because my guard is up all the time and it is difficult for me to trust.

Even after my childhood years, adolescent experiences, and my five-year volatile relationship it has helped shaped me into a stronger woman and a woman who believes in fighting for the rights of marginalized adolescents and women. I hate patriarchy and I am a feminist at heart and to my core. I do not hold back when it comes to speaking up for myself or putting my foot down if I do not agree or like something. When it comes to my power and voice, it is mine to keep and no one else’s to demean or take.

Looking to us

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

It exists, learn the statistics, and recognize the signs and behaviors. At times, you will not know if your female friend is suffering due to fear; however, it is not your job to rescue her. It is your effort as a human being to support her, be available, listen, and give a shoulder to cry on and honor her choices regardless if you like it or not. Leaving a domestic violence relationship or situation is hard and can feel impossible to heal from.

Moving On

1:4 #16, In a healing place

By the water

(Editors note: This survivor took me to a wonderful area she finds much peace in for her shoot)

Please share what happened to you:

He somehow convinced me it was a good idea to marry him after 6 months of dating, but not tell anyone. He slowly started cutting me off from my friends and family, to the point where I realized I hadn’t even seen my mom in almost a year. The emotional abuse started subtly – any idea I came up with was stupid, he “didn’t like” comforting touch so I had to sit on the opposite end of the sofa from him, he would grab my phone out of my hand unprompted and look through it, accusing me of cheating, any time I would go to run an errand he’d “jokingly” say “try not to cheat on me while you’re out” – almost every time I went out for any reason. This escalated to him making me call him from my work line in the store I was employed before I left to be sure I was there, then immediately making me call him on my cell and stay on the phone with him so he could time how long it took me to get home and “make sure I wasn’t stopping to cheat on him with anyone”.

In the last year of our marriage, I has a string of really awful events happen, the biggest of which was my dearest friend shooting himself in the head due to PTSD. I went into a depression and was having a hard time dealing. He would tell me that I was being stupid and weak. I stated that I really wanted to get back into therapy, but he forbid it because he said that it was bullshit and all they’d do was tell me to leave him and that wouldn’t help me at all. I was in the mood for sex less often, and he started to guilt me into it, saying things like “a good wife would have sex with me” and “just let me do it, it’s not a big deal”.
I was so beaten down mentally and depressed that i would just lay there and silently cry and mentally wish not to wake up, he would ignore it and just keep going. sometimes he’d try to justify it by rubbing my back and saying “see? I’m doing what you like and i don’t even want to”. Another favorite line of his whenever I worked up the courage to talk about something I wasn’t happy with was “It’s not like I’m hitting you, Jesus. No one is gonna say you’re some abused housewife”.
One day I had a mentally ill ex employee of mine find where we lived and left a long letter at our door addressed to him, detailing an entirely fabricated affair that he and i had apparently had. My ex dragged me out of bed and started screaming in my face, not listening to what I was trying to say at all, not believing a word i said even though I’d previously spoken about my concern for this employee being not well and maybe dangerous. He was getting so violent with his tone that I started to fear physical violence, so I grabbed my purse and a blanket and ran out in my pajamas, never came back. That was in 2012.

How are you now?

Naturally

I’m doing a lot better now, but I still have trained behaviors I’m trying to shed. I apologize *all* the time, and my young stepdaughter has started to pick up the habit which breaks my heart, especially since I’ve   been trying so hard to break my own habit. I get defensive and shrink back very quickly. I feel guilty if I do anything for myself, if I go anywhere without my now fiance (who is a great guy). I’m miles better than I was though. I think the hardest part is that he never admitted to any of it after, when we were going through the divorce. He’d insist that it was all in my head and he never said any of that, never did any of that, and that i just wanted to be “treated like a queen and that’s not how he’s ever going to treat a woman”. It made me feel like I was crazy, but eventually I just had to work past it and remember that he’s a very hurt, damaged individual that doesn’t understand how to heal.

What would you like to tell the world about Domestic Violence?

Talking

I guess I would tell the world to stop coming down on women who are slow to get out of relationships like that, or go back to them. Emotional abusers are like parasites…they slowly dig their claws deeper and deeper in, without you even realizing what’s going on. Then suddenly one day you feel the pain of those claws deep inside, so deep that you’re now afraid that ripping them out would be even worse, so you feel like you’re choosing the lesser of two evils. Don’t blame the woman for staying in a place she’s been psychologically conditioned to feel the need to stay in.

Upcoming Show at the Dover Art League

The front of the card for the joint show starting October 7, 2016.

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be doing my first show with the photos and stories from this site at the Dover Art League in Dover, Delaware. Dover is my home town and I want to try a few things and see how it goes. The show is a joint show with Natasha Rodriguez that we’ve chosen to call “Still Waters”. In part, the name is a reference to the idea you don’t know what’s going on under the surface. I’ve come to know just how true that is, and it’s one of the themes of this site and the project as a whole. The show starts Friday, October 7th and will have all of the stories and a photo from each of them in a special display I’m very excited about. It’s more of an installation than the standard hang the photos on the wall thing. Natasha will be showing some of her new paintings for the very first time at this show. Some are autobiographical and others of her work are metaphorical. At least one is about other survivors too. All her paintings are very powerful. We will be hosting a reception on Friday from 6-8 p.m. and an Artist’s talk on Saturday the 8th from 3:30-5 p.m. We are planning to do another artist’s talk near the end of the month of October, though that date has not been determined yet. As part of the show, I’m planning on having some anonymous surveys about experience with sexual aggression and assault for folks to fill out if they choose. There are some other things happening that should make it an interesting show. I hope you can come. The Dover Art League is in Historic Downtown Dover Delaware at 21 West Loockerman Street. If you’d like a postcard like the one above, email me dave.wolanski@gmail.com with your mailing address or contact me on social media. Some will also be at the show.

I have to thank a lot of people for the support they’ve shown for this show! Gallerist Laura Mancuso from the Art League for roping me in and making me move forward from “someday” to October 2016 as a part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Natasha for getting roped in too, and making some new paintings just for the show on a short deadline with her job and family responsibilities too. My friend Lowry Wilson will be flying up from Mississippi to lend moral support. My friend Cort Anderson in Kansas is printing the photos and applying all his skills to do so. It hasn’t been a point and click exercise at all! We’ve been in close contact and had multiple phone calls, texts and emails to move from “Dave, how can I help?” to “Dave, how’s this?” to “I think we’re good, I’ll get them out for you this week”.  Nations Photo Lab offered to do the prints and framing at a significant discount for the show, and though I’ve chosen another display method for this show, it meant a lot for them to make the offer. My family has also shown immense support and allowed me the time and funds to make this stuff happen.

Saving the most important thanks for last, I have to thank the Survivors who’ve stepped forward, shared their stories and bared their souls for this site. I had to re-read each and everyone of their stories to prep the show. I felt beat up after reading all 15 in a row, at one sitting. To go through such a brutal, unforgiving course in their lives and then share it to help others is truly humbling. I, and they, think it’s worth it to help others. I’m humbled they’ve put their trust in me to do it to the best of my ability. (Darn it, I think there’s some dust in my eyes again!)

Speaking of funds… The costs to do the show have been kept as low as possible and are still in the several hundred dollar range. I have not tried to do any fundraising as I’m in my typical Ready, Fire, Aim mode and don’t know exactly how to do it to be honest. If you’d like to support the show in any way, please contact me. If not, Natasha and I have been able to self fund it. If donations exceed the actual costs to do the show, the excess will be donated to a local domestic violence group or home.

Photos from this show will not be for sale, and it will be evident why at the show. Some of Natasha’s paintings will be for sale though.

Hope to see you at the show, the reception and the artist talks!