Sexual assault survivors heal through art therapy group

Lauren Gaines, Staff Reporter

This fall, survivors of sexual violence at Tulane will have a new outlet to look to for support with the launch of the new, student-run art therapy program, Art Speaks.

Art Speaks is a bi-weekly art therapy group for survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, child abuse, sexual harassment and stalking. The aim of the program is to provide a place where survivors can come together for support and aid one another in the healing process.

Senior Jessica Rubinsky, founder of Art Speaks, describes the program as one that promotes self care to those enrolled.

“Art Therapy uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals,” Rubinsky said.

Tulane’s Title IX Coordinator, Meredith Smith, said she agreed with Rubinsky’s sentiments of the program’s unique approach to addressing survivors’ well-being and providing a safe space for them.

“It’s so important for schools to provide multiple avenues of support to survivors of sexual violence,” Smith said. “…What I really appreciate about this group is that it is student created: a student-created group to help fellow students. That’s a really powerful thing to see.”

Freshman Alexandra Elam also feels Art Speaks is a step in the right direction for survivors at Tulane.

“I think that using art as a form of therapy is a good way to express any tensions or post-traumatic emotions because art is personal,” Elam said. “For victims of sexual assault, personal freedoms and feelings of safety may have been ripped away from them, so I believe that using art as a means of expression is not just constructive, but it is also freeing.”

Art Speaks will allow survivors channel their emotions into creative projects, such as self-image collages, coping skills toolboxes and self-care glitter bottles.

Additionally, October is Relationship Abuse Awareness Month, and Rubinsky believes that Tulane community as a whole can do its part to aid victims of relationship abuse and sexual violence.

“Everyone in the Tulane community can work together to support victims and spread awareness,” Rubinsky said. “Some ways include believing survivors that share their stories, being an active bystander in potentially dangerous situations, attending One Wave training, and learning about warning signs of toxic relationships.”

Art Speaks began at 5 p.m. Sept. 27 and will meet every other week. Students have the opportunity to send their student ID numbers to [email protected] for more questions, meeting locations, or to register.

For those in the Tulane community seeking additional information/support on violence and abuse, including, but not limited to, sexual violence, Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education can be reached at (504) 654-9543, and Counseling and Psychological Services can be reached at (504) 314-2277.