Daddy´s Red, Mommy´s Blue
Art is the way we express our perceptions, experiences and feelings. For some, especially children, it can be the only way of communicating painful experiences and feelings.
Counselors often encourage children to make pictures of their homes and families, or images that express their feelings. The colors they choose can convey as much meaning as the images themselves. Children often see anger as red, for instance, fear or sadness blue, happiness yellow. The paintings and drawings below are part of an exhibit and were created by children receiving counseling through Your Safe Haven in Bedford County.
The identities of these young artists have been concealed for obvious reasons. But they speak for all the children who live in violence, who see their fathers beat their mothers. They speak for all the children who are raped or beaten. They speak for all the children subjected to the unspeakable.
This 11-year-old boy painted the angry words that fill the air when Mom and Dad fight - and himself caught in the middle, anxious and confused.
This 8-year-old was asked to paint images of things that make him happy, sad, angry and scared. "Happy" is playing with his football. "Sad" is thinking of his dead bird. His father is believed to have killed it because "it was in the way." Falling off his bike and cutting his chin "scared him." He portrays himself without arms, a way children commonly use to express helplessness.
Finally, he painted Mom and Dad fighting - he's "afraid" Dad will make good on his promise to kill Mom. But he didn't make an overt image for "angry." Children are sometimes too fearful to express anger.
This 10-year-old witnessed an extreme act of violence perpetrated by one parent against the other. The experience left her feeling cut off and isolated. Her surroundings remained the same - houses and trees and pond were in their accustomed places, kids played in the schoolyard and grownups went to church and played golf. But "I felt like nobody could see me" and she pictured herself alone and friendless, separated from her community.
Children who live with domestic violence often feel obliged to maintain the appearance of a happy, normal family. This 8-year-old was asked to paint a picture of her family, clothing them in the colors most representative of the feelings she associates with each member. But she painted the entire family in the same nondescript white t-shirt and jeans. There is little to indicate the physical and sexual abuse that are so much a part of her family's life. Except, perhaps, for the relative size and position of Mom's abusive boyfriend - the biggest person in the family portrait, standing squarely in the center of the picture while the rest of the family trails off to the side.
The feelings of this teenage victim of sexual abuse (by someone outside the family) and domestic violence are muddled. He says he loves his Mom. Dad was an afterthought.
PCADV thanks Your Safe Haven of Bedford County and the Bedford County Arts Council for sharing these with us.
The drawings found here are taken from Bedford County's "Daddy's Red, Mommy's Blue" exhibit, a collaborative effort between Your Safe Haven and Bedford County Arts Center. The entire collection is available for loan to any and all facilities seeking to make their communities more aware of the pervasiveness of domestic violence and its horrific impact on the children. There is no fee. Borrowers are obligated only to safeguard the exhibit and see it safely to the next site, to include paying shipping and insurance costs if any. Contact Bedford Arts Council, 814-623-1538, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, get help! Click here to find the local Domestic Violence Program in your community.
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