The creation of this site stems from my need to communicate my work and experience to others; especially, to those, who have suffered abuse and violation of their basic inherent human rights, as well as, therapists working with trauma survivors. It is one more means or way of breaking the silence and fighting against child abuse, because I believe that each time we traumatize our children an irrecoverable waste of human potential and talent, human comfort and happiness takes place. There is a lot of evidence now that supports that traumatisation in infancy leads to an increase in the release of stress hormones that destroy infants’ newly formed neurons and that abuse in childhood can cause long term changes in memory. ‘Children reflect the world in which they are raised’ (Perry, 1999) and the mature organisation and functional capabilities of all areas of the brain reflect some aspect of the quantity, quality and pattern of experiences during the critical years of development. Therefore, I hope that this site will join the many voices around the world against childhood abuse and other forms of abuse and torture and that it will enable me through my artwork and writing to discuss relevant issues and the detrimental aftermath of trauma, but also the possibilities of safety, healing and empowerment. For as Linda Honey, a survivor, writes ‘speaking out has been one of the most profoundly healing and terrifying things I have done in my life. I chose to be part of the solution, and do not want to be part of any hidden conspiracy of secrecy and silence which only enables child abuse to flourish (cited in Mullinar and Hunt, 1997).
Other reasons why I decided to break my silence and create this site is the fact that in Greece, there is very little published work related to trauma and its repercussions, and translations of relevant foreign literature are also sparse. Actually, to a great extent, silence surrounds issues concerning trauma and childhood abuse as if a great part of society is comfortably in denial of something that unfortunately occurs and should concern us all because of the detrimental repercussions of child abuse and early trauma on children’s development and the negative impact of unresolved trauma later on in adult life. Although society permits neglect and exploitation of children and women and human rights are severely violated in many different contexts in Greece* (more below); it is talking about these issues that is not permitted and it seems that the biggest taboo is not perpetrating sexual and physical abuse but talking about it. Of course, denial is a universal human defense and response that protects us from being overwhelmed by both internal and external reality; however, in adulthood denial of our early pain and suffering can become crippling and can rob us of our vitality, health and creativity, and can also open the door to further victimization in adulthood. Herman (1987) writes that data suggests that survivors are at great risk of repeated victimization in adult life because they are burdened by impairments in self care, in memory, in identity and in the capacity to form stable relationships and to trust. Moreover, denial does not apply at an individual level only and it does not characterize survivors only, it is a mechanism that also applies at a societal level. Repression, denial and dissociation are phenomena of social as well as individual consciousness (Herman, 1997). However, denial and silence come at a price because ‘silence and denial makes us do things blindly’ (Alice Miller, 2001); whereas, healing and awareness of our past history enables us to stay grounded in the present and it decreases our emotional blindness, which allows us more empowerment and enables us to establish healthier boundaries in relationships and make wiser choices. As we confront our denial and heal, a shift takes place in the dynamics around us and further healing takes place in others, for ‘as we heal our own pain, it heals the world’ (cited in Chrystine Oksana, 2001). Finally, ‘racism, misogyny, maltreatment of children are not an inevitable legacy of our past. When an individual becomes self-aware, there is the potential of insight. With insight comes altered behaviour. With altered behaviour comes the potential to diminish the transgenerational passage of dysfunctional or destructive ideas and practices’ (B. Perry, 1999).
Written on August 2013 by Tonya Alexandri,
– I have not contributed any articles, essays or artwork of mine to any other site and have no connection to any other websites containing the words trauma art alexandri.