March 2003

Survivors of Sexual Violence Mend Their Hearts

Art exhibit sparks international participation
Opening night set for Saturday, March 29, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas - The Corazón Lastimado: Healing the Wounded Heart™ survivor art exhibit offers visual testimony to the impact of sexual and intimate partner violence in our lives by offering survivors and those who work with them wooden hearts to use as vehicles of expression and healing. The project, begun in March 2001 primarily as a statewide effort, drew interest this year from survivors, victim advocates, artists and others from throughout the U.S. and Latin America.

While sexual abuse and domestic violence continue to be underreported crimes that impact our communities on a daily basis, the perpetrators are frequently our own family members, partners, or acquaintances.

Often due to shame or fear of the reaction from family or the community, many victims suffer in silence and never receive the validation nor the medical or emotional attention they deserve. Furthermore, because we often doubt the validity of rape victims' experiences, rape is the least reported crime of all despite the fact that one in four women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetimes. What's more, about three percent of American men – a total of 2.78 million men have also experienced rape at some point in their lives. For the few who do choose to share their experience, justice is not a guarantee. Very few rapists are ever convicted while less than two percent actually service time in prison.

For many survivors of sexual abuse, the first step towards healing is breaking the silence. Some may choose to tell their stories in words while others may choose alternative vehicles of expression such as the creative arts. Historically, art has always served various purposes, from advertising political power to embodying ideology. But even in its most public form its true audience is an audience of one and its true function is to inspire, absorb and reflect deep emotions. Through art, many survivors find themselves able to express issues related to their victimization and healing more clearly and safely than with words. Through the sharing of their experiences, many survivors are finally able to find the release they seek and the freedom they’ve lost -- on their own terms.

Laura Zárate, Arte Sana’s Executive Director expressed, “We hope this project will continue to grow as people gain a greater awareness of the important of providing a forum for healing as well as serving as a platform for further discussion."

This year’s opening night will be held March 29, 2003 from 6-9 PM at ALLGO’s Tillery Street Theater (701 Tillery St.). Activities will include the screening of “La Confianza Perdida,” a Spanish language video on date and acquaintance rape as well as a performance from the Voices Against Violence, a group from the University of Texas that addresses the issues of relationship violence, stalking, and sexual violence at UT. The evening will also include a poetry reading by spoken word performers, Amanda Lee-Plaisance and Stacie P.

While the exhibit is free, donations to support the project, including the shipping and handling of the hearts, are always welcome. These types of exhibits provide increased awareness to issues which are ordinarily not discussed openly.

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, the hearts will be on display at ALLGO from March 29 through April 15. The complete 2003 exhibit will also be available for viewing online via Arte Sana’s virtual web gallery after April 1.

This project is funded in part by the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission.

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