Hearts against wounds: Event serves as therapy for survivors of violence

Amanda Gold

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 10.26.45 PMFor the victims of domestic violence featured as the artists in the Women’s Resource Center’s Wounded Hearts exhibit, their hearts were more than canvases.

They were therapy.

For Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the WRC will be hosting the Wounded Heart exhibit, which showcases wooden hearts decorated by survivors of domestic violence. Along with the hearts, there is a description written about each that explains why the person decorated the heart how they did. Additionally, friends, families of victims, advocates and concerned students can decorate the hearts.

Wanda Burton, peer education coordinator for the WRC, said she believes the exhibit has been very successful in aiding the victims and their friends in the healing process.

“We know that it has helped because they speak about the exhibit in their description about how healing expression is,” Burton said. “People are really moved by the fact that they are not alone in the situation and they are moved by the response from the community.”

The WRC first decided to bring the exhibit to the Tuscaloosa community 11 years ago when Elle Shaaban-Magana, director of the WRC, was moved by the Wounded Heart exhibit she saw from a nonprofit organization in Texas called Art Heals. After bringing the exhibit to Kentuck, it has proven to be a success.

“Last year’s turnout was great,” Burton said. “We had around 100 folks come out for opening night. Because people were so moved by the exhibit, we offered response hearts made out of construction paper so that people could respond to the survivors’ stories.”

Cameron Hill, a senior majoring in public relations, said a support system like this is a great resource for victims of domestic violence.

“I think having a support system is very helpful in the healing process,” Hill said. “If you don’t have someone to talk to, I think it makes healing harder. It would probably be very hard for someone to try and heal on their own so communication is really important.”

The WRC will be holding the 11th annual Wounded Heart exhibit at Kentuck beginning Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and continuing throughout the month of April.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. The WRC also offers many services to survivors, both men and women, of dating and domestic violence, including counseling and advocacy services. Counseling services are also available for friends and family of victims as well. The WRC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and appointments may be set up by telephone.

For more information on the Wounded Heart exhibit and the WRC, visit wrc.ua.edu.