Closing remarks at the Welcome Reception for Surviving to Thriving: A Journey of Healing Through Art at The Castellani Art Museum, October 5, 2017
“So often in the media we see and hear sensational stories about battered women
Horrific descriptions of women being seriously injured, maimed and even killed
By the men who claim to love them
And that is awful.
Each and every incident of battery, every life lost, is a tragedy.
But every single day
There are also hundreds of thousands of women
Who aren’t killed by their partners
Who aren’t shot or stabbed or sent to the emergency room in critical condition
But are injured nonetheless.
Every single day hundreds of thousands of women
Endure cruelties and indignities that many people cannot even fathom.
Affronts to their dignity and to their humanity
Physical abuse that wounds their bodies
And verbal abuse that wounds their hearts and souls.
Yet these women quietly carry on.
They care for their children and they go to work
They go to lunch with friends and cheer their children at little league
They organize fundraisers and sew costumes for school plays
And they pray to their God at religious services, their families by their side
All the while carefully hiding the pain and shame that they live with every day.
Hiding their bruises and their embarrassment behind long sleeves and elaborate excuses.
And when they’ve had enough and they decide to move on and start their lives anew
They do so without fanfare or praise
Often times quietly enduring continued abuse long after the relationship has ended
And yet, they remain steadfast.
They stand and they fight for their right to live free from fear
Free from physical pain and sexual coercion and verbal and emotional battery
And they do all of this in the most private corners of their lives.
They do not tell their stories. They do not let outsiders in.
They carry their tragic history silently, and by themselves.
They are what I call Invisible Victims.
But they shouldn’t be.
Surviving to Thriving: A Journey of Healing Through Art
Brings the reality of these Invisible Victims to light.
They are our mothers and sisters and co-workers and friends.
They are your child’s school teacher and your real estate agent.
They are the cashier at your favorite coffee house and the lady who delivers your mail.
I commend each and every survivor who chose to take part in this exhibition.
To lay your pain and shame and embarrassment open for the world to judge is no small task
*I am well aware of that*
So I ask each and every one of you who will walk this floor tonight to please understand
What you’re viewing isn’t merely art, it’s strength.
It is courage and dignity and tenacity.
What these walls house tonight is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.
God Bless these women
And God Bless the volunteers who took time out of their busy lives to facilitate this exhibition.
To recognize that no one should believe that it would be better to be Invisible.”
* Photo courtesy of Andrew Emmons, Niagara University