New workshop in Elkhart County helps survivors of sexual violence
GOSHEN, Ind. -- One Michiana woman is using art’s therapeutic qualities to create a safe and healing environment for survivor of sexual violence.
The goal is to help survivors process the trauma they went through and regain some aspects of their lives.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
“It’s a visual way to work when words can’t always just come out,” said workshop founder and art therapist Kortney Malone.
But the pieces inside a studio at the Old Bag Factory in Goshen tell a story.
“We have different projects that we’re doing to emphasize safety, emphasize courage and willingness to tell your story and find common ground”
Each stroke and color explains how sexual violence impacted the six artists enrolled in a new workshop called “Survive to Thrive.”
“People really chose to dive in and tell their stories,” said Malone.
The series is a collaborative effort between the Elkhart Art League and Victims Assistance at the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s office.
Malone created the workshop after noticing more people speaking out against sexual violence but lacking ways to help heal and build community around survivors and to take away the stigma of sexual assault.
“There’s an opportunity to really kind of ‘Hey I’m not alone’ I have people to talk to, I have people to reach out to if something does happen,” said Malone.
Throughout the six week course, survivors use the therapeutic qualities of five different multimedia materials to create a safe and healing environment.
“When you do an altered book you fold it in different directions, there’s parts of it that you keep inside that you don’t need to share with everybody that’s more personal, you only share what you feel comfortable to share,” said Malone.
Malone understands how difficult it can be to talk. She was raped in college, then after graduating, a professor tried to sexually assault her.
“I tried to report that and I was told by that boss that you’re going to ruin your career if you push this forward,” said Malone. “So I remember thinking what do I do?”
She created a piece of art as a result of her trauma and hopes the art can give survivors the thousand words needed to not only paint the picture but tell the story.
“Let it be something that doesn’t have to stay in my life,” said Malone. “I can say you know you want to remove the toxicity you want to find people that will help heal with you.”
Beth Cane, a victim assistance advocate at the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office says there’s a huge need for a program like this in Michiana.
Cane says survivors become more engaged in their family, friend, work, and school lives when they have support like this, helping them become less of a victim and more of a survivor.
“Once they start feeling safe and comfortable, sharing their story, I see a lot of progress that happens,” said Kane. “A lot of times they will develop friendships, but it’s more, it’s more the whole ‘I’m not alone, I have other people, there are other people that get it, they really understand what I’m going through’ and it’s just incredibly important.”
Classes meet every Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3:30 p.m. until the end of March. They are still accepting new participants. It costs $60.