This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, FCASV is honoring the duality of the healing journey. Our certified sexual assault programs around the state are working with survivors to create Empowerment Masks. Through these masks, we are able to witness and hold space for survivors’ pain and injustice while also celebrating their strength and resilience. We've shared highlights of the Empowerment Masks creation process from three programs. Visit the Lake Ella Black Dog Cafe from April 1st to April 30th to view this powerful display! Check out our Facebook event page here.
Living with the pain and secrecy of trauma is one of the more difficult aspects in a survivor’s healing journey. Many survivors have responsibilities that force them to put their healing process on hold and are unable to get involved in support services. Their outward appearance can disguise a wide array of emotions including sadness, anger, loneliness and fear. Our workshop’s purpose was to give survivors the opportunity to explore and express how they have developed ways to conceal their trauma so they could keep moving forward. Participants chose to decorate the inside and outside of each mask to contrast the emotions and thoughts they have experienced due to sexual violence. Survivors expressed that this activity has inspired them to reveal the pain they keep hidden and felt empowered to share their experiences with others in the future.
Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center
Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center had the opportunity to participate in the Empowerment Masks SAAM Project this year and chose to complete the project with participants that were currently in the Male Survivors of Sexual Violence Support Group. Members chose how to divide their mask and each used very different colors. One member that divided his mask horizontally stated that the bottom half was water and the more he kept his sexual abuse a secret, the further down into depression he went. The darkening of the color blue represents this. On the top half, he painted it to represent a sunrise and how healing has been a new beginning and being able to see with a new clarity. Once the masks were completed, several themes emerged. Within the victim side of each masks, the participants described feelings of depression, keeping secrets, being trapped, hopelessness, and being surrounded by darkness. On the survivor side of the masks themes that arose were being hopeful, relief, freedom, new beginnings, and seeing with clarity for the first time. Each member appreciated being able to participate in this project and express their healing journey in a creative way.
Betty Griffin Center
These women range in age from 21 to 77 years of age and all are survivors. Each mask represents their journey of survival and how they had to be two people in order to cope with their sexual violence. If you look closely, some used the color teal to represent sexual assault and some used the ribbon to represent the cage they were in. One survivor was so creative that she used a cracked eggshell for the eye and band aids to hold her brain together because she felt broken after her assault. Some participants used colors to represent how they were feeling – blue – sad, black – depressed, red – pain etc. They are amazing and the women really did a great job.