Torre Marie is a survivor of child sex abuse who started painting as a way to heal from her trauma. She produced a series of paintings called ‘The Yellow Dress Project’. Here she talks about the paintings and their significance.
Why the yellow?
“I’ve been asked this a lot. I’m not really one who tends to be a yellow person. The colour is probably on my least favourite list, well it was. This project has changed my perception of the colour. After considering the choices to represent such a delicate part of myself, yellow happened to ‘fall onto the canvas’ so to speak. The yellow represents my hope. The process of healing can be dark and it can feel lonely. Trauma can sound scary to people on the outside, it creates an uncertainty. Truly though it is just as scary and filled with just as much uncertainty to the person who is experiencing and healing from Trauma. It requires a great deal of hope, trust, and whole lot of faith to consider going through the painful healing process. I will be honest, sometimes I have lost sight of those things and as long as I keep going I find it again. The yellow reminds me that hope exists even though at times it can feel like it doesn’t.”
Why are all the girls silhouettes?
“The answer to this is one that requires delicate words. The easy answer is that the contrast is beautiful. That’s the easy answer though. The truth is that the silhouettes represent the shame. Shame is the I am _____, (unworthy, stupid, undeserving, etc.) It has a tendency to swallow up the uniqueness. It swallows up the talents, dreams, and future in my case. Shame is deeply painful, it occurs in everyone and in many different situations. Shame for survivors of childhood trauma is usually what fuels the silence and fuels the “I’m the only one” mentality. I learned a lot and healed a lot learning about shame. Brene Brown’s book, “I thought it was just me (but it wasn’t)” provided me with insight and understanding into shame that lead to healing breakthroughs, I strongly recommend it. When we shed the blackness of the shame, we can find our uniqueness.
We need the yellow dress to do that though, we need the hope of better, days, nights, tomorrow’s, of health, strength, and love. We need the hope of being worthy of love, compassion, empathy. We simply need hope of good. So when I look at these paintings that’s what I see. That is what I am reminded of.”
Two years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Torre Marie. She had travelled to Leduc, Alberta where we were delivering facilitator training and we spent some time after class talking. During the course of the conversation, she expressed to me that there were so many people with stories about child sex abuse that needed to be told. We both recognized that most stories were of famous people and people of means who could afford treatment. We started thinking about how important it was to tell more stories. Stories from the ‘every day’ person. Stories from those who can’t work because of their trauma. Stories from people who have not had support of partners or family or therapists. Stories of incredibly brave people who despite the odds – despite the trauma – despite the lack of support – have found hope. Stories of resilience and courage that would help other survivors know they are not alone. Stories that would educate others as to the significant impact that sexual abuse has on a child.
It simply made sense to me that Torre Marie tell her story.
Filmed in Lethbridge Alberta, ‘The Yellow Dress – A Story of Hope’ will debut on February 24th, 2017 at our fundraiser. In addition, we will be auctioning off some paintings from The Yellow Dress Project.
Torre Marie will be here – her first trip ever to Eastern Canada. Let’s give her a warm Ottawa welcome (yes, even in February).