children, domestic violence and art therapy- a collection of artworks by children presentation by jo ferrell, art therapist

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1 children, domestic violence and art therapy- a collection of artworks by children presentation by jo ferrell, art therapist

2 children and domestic violence the artworks that children do are as varied as the number of children who have had experience of dv. There are no particular artistic traditions that are used exclusively by this client group. there are generally a range of feelings represented in the artwork, to a greater or lesser degree. Anger, for instance, may be present in many of the child s artworks alongside other emotions that might, to the face of it, appear mutually exclusive. the children use the art making process unconsciously to release the pressure of their feelings

3 It is extremely hard to tell which feeling predominates in this image. Clearly there is anger but sadness is also present in large measure, and perhaps surprise?

4 this artwork is noteworthy because it demonstrates the tug of war between the young artist s developmentally appropriate, and stylised, understanding of life versus the raw emotion of the trauma. In this case the emotions win out

5 things we have noticed about children who have experienced domestic violence

6 colour usage and artistic techniques are often used by the child to minimise the impact of the violence.

7 caught in the middle. conflicting ideas about the incident and what happened according to either parent can often make the child doubt their own beliefs and opinions.

8 about their own feelings. They really get the premise of hate the behaviour love the person, unlike most adults, therefore love for the perpetrator goes on as before As mentioned previously, they might be deeply confused as their feelings and experience of the events may not tally with what the parent/s told them happened. Loyalty and role of parents in their lives can result in them taking on board two contradictory stories and their own view of events. This often means they have huge information gaps where denial takes over

9 the written word is not always meant to be understood. This child is trying to communicate their story through the art.

10 about their parents role in itcontrary to the established understandings about dv, we have found that generally they do not blame themselves for the violence- they most often place the blame with their parents! they often do blame both rather than the one who did the actual violent acts after the event mum- blaming is prevalent, even if in their rational mind they understood why the family had to separate their feelings for their dad often have to go underground as they don t want to upset mumthey still feel them but can t expose them, thus a kind of splitting occurs.

11 about their own thoughts and feelings they might be deeply confused as their feelings and experience of the events may not tally with what the parent/s told them happened. Loyalty and role of parents in their lives can result in them taking on board two contradictory stories and their own view of events. This often means they have huge information gaps where denial takes over They really get the premise of hate the behaviour love the person, unlike most adults, therefore love for the perpetrator goes on as before This image is a testament to this child s wish for her father not to fail her, as repeatedly happens in the real world

12 this drawing task asks the child to place elements within the page. the linear placement of them is arguably about the desire to control their world.

13 This child s representations of their feelings appear fairly easy to understand, but the child s explanation is taken as the meaning of the work Thinking about the range of polarities that are represented in the image it can suggest the highs and lows of their life and relationships The use of opposites in the subject matter, such as night and day and happy and sad, could suggest the denial and ambiguity in the child s feeling state. The technique of the flower in the hat and the dancing body might indicate the child s sense of awareness of the pretence, and the drama involved in their lives. This drawing might suggest the coping strategy the child employs

14 most children still hold the (secret) fantasy that their family will get back together regardless of the level of violence that occurred.

15

16

17 Mixed up doggy feelings Directive art tasks that ask the children to represent their feelings are very telling, even if the child is drawing from a subconscious level. Issues are sited within the somatic locations. Such concerns as puberty, anxiety and personal relations are placed within the dog in the obvious and relevant zones.

18

19 It seems unsurprising that this is an image from a girl nearing puberty

20 It is extremely telling that this child had a problem with compulsive eating. Also its not surprising that lack of parental control was also an issue. Noteworthy that the following week the child saw this drawing and had absolutely no recollection of drawing it.

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