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December 7, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 49°F

Opinion

Commentary: Account uses art to help heal trauma

@__here4you_ is a community built around collective, shame-free healing from trauma through art and dialogue. In its origin, a sleepy and poignant January evening, Here 4 You was a deep attempt to find a hand to hold through personal pain.

Who else was experiencing intangible, contradictory and heartbreaking feelings from experiences like miscarriage, abortion, sexual assault and chronic pain? No one came to mind; it was difficult to find voices speaking to it. With deeply lonely feelings overwhelming most of my stomach and brain, my heart felt clouded and fearful that these were forever feelings. I knew that this new wind sharply finding its way to my bones was not one that I was experiencing alone, and that there were millions of other people who had similar stories to share. In an anxious attempt to find them, I allowed wounds of abuse and trauma to bleed bright red, so the others who were also bleeding could find it, and we could all potentially find peace in knowing we are not alone.

Where were the places these conversations could happen? Where were they happening already? I looked deeply online and in my community for places to find solace. I came up short, mostly coming across groups that centered their healing around insidious shame and sadness for having pre-maritial sex or experiencing the loss of a fetus. Attempts to find communal healing spaces were a pursuit to get away from the stigmatization and retribution that already sinks into many of our pores as a result of a sex-negative education, a religious upbringing and a society that does not look after or care for women or people with internal reproductive organs.

Here 4 You was created to be the safe space someone could find on their own scavenge for peace and belonging. It is an Instagram page that discusses what are considered heavily-stigmatized topics like abortion, post-partum depression, sexual assault, chronic pain and sex through mostly comic-style art. The space is sex-positive, pro-choice, anti-shame, anti-stigma, anti-white supremacy and gender neutral. I didn’t know who or what I would find on the other side of sharing such content. My thoughts surrounding these topics were inconclusive and shrouded in question marks to which I could not offer true answers. The Here 4 You page was, and still is, my gallant attempt to unearth these questions and feelings that have kept many of us silent and riddled with shame, embarrassment and deep pain. That we have been made to feel shameful and silenced about experiences with abortion, miscarriage, sexual assault and abuse is not an accident. We’ve been taught to shove it down, to get over it, to keep on and let it go. It is only to the benefit of those in power that we hold in our pain and trauma, so that we may be easier to control, continue to feed and provide to their capitalist and exploitative systems, and so we may not put up a fight in the ongoing and immense siege on our bodies. Even if I were to fumble my way through it, I decided the attempt to cast cracks, however small, into the calculated cloud of shame and stigma was well worth the endeavor.

After 13 months, the page feels like a home; something I never imagined could be felt on social media. It is a small and wonderful community that is full of kindness and love and support. The comics themselves address the hard-to-talk-about topics in the hopes of making them feel more approachable and comfortable to discuss. Especially as we live through a time in which reproductive health and choice are again at great risk, having these conversations feels especially important.

Since the creation of Here 4 You, many people have reached out to share their stories. People who have commented, shared or messaged have truly confirmed that we are all longing for these spaces to heal through our honesty, vulnerability and pain. We are all looking for the space for us to raise our voices and express our deeply hurtful experiences and frustration with the systems that be. We crave the ability to give these dark parts in our life the light of day, so that they don’t fester within our lives and relationships forever. We know that openness and community and sharing are the antidotes to so much of our pain. Finding the places in which we feel encouraged, able and safe enough to do so is where we are met with more challenges.

My hope is that Here 4 You can be one of those places, and that it is a small piece of the unearthing and dismantling of the generational, intentional and implicit silencing, shaming and belittling. I hope it can provide peace, healing and community in small or big ways. I hope that it can be the space that people need it to be.