The images in this book have been lovingly conceived and developed by the author and artists to bring healing to anyone who was abused as a child. We believe that within each child abuse survivor are resources of intelligence, creativity, sensitivity, and wisdom which not only survived the abuse, but also likely developed in extraordinary ways because of the abuse. Our hope is that these messages and images will tap into these inner resources and help them realize their full potential.
How do powerful resources develop in the context of having been abused as a child? Perhaps the need to make sense of one’s abuse poses profound questions that do not let the child’s mind rest until they are answered. Little children become little psychologists, examining their abusers, often grasping that painful and intense emotions compelled their abusers’ damaging actions, and gaining insight far beyond their years into the dark and light sides of human nature. Usually, great empathy and sensitivity develop for the oppressed and often also for the oppressor.
If a child’s psychological and spiritual survival is seriously threatened by the abuse, the psyche may retreat within to protect what is most precious in the child until it is again safe to exist in the outer world. Some part of the mind usually registers the abuse nonetheless, making this information available later in the service of healing. When the psyche must form multiple selves to distribute the burden of overwhelming trauma, each part develops unique perspectives and talents, and this complexity often expands the mind and intellect.
Furthermore, if the child makes an effort to resist reactively taking his or her rage out on others, even though this rage will likely break through at times, this effort often opens up a place in the heart and psyche for deep spiritual enlightenment.
The author and artists believe that each survivor possesses infinite resources within to heal from child abuse. Some survivors take this healing journey with the help of therapists or clergy. Some do it on their own or with loved ones. Some do it through creative expression. However it happens, the author has been observing, learning, and collecting “what works” for over 30 years. This book seeks to capture these healing approaches and tools and to share them in a fun and hope-giving medium–a coloring book.
This book is a source of ideas, direction, and inspiration to help the reader-artist pave a personal path for healing. Like a grocery store stocked full of nutritious foods, the reader-artist is encouraged to select ideas and images that resonate most purely with the needs, feelings, and truth that lie deeply within. It is our hope that as the reader-artist colors these images and lingers on their meaning, all that is of value will be slowly digested and integrated into mind, body, and soul.
For each survivor, some images will feel very right and some may be a poor fit or include trauma reminders. The same holds for all of the tools for healing, suggestions of music, and ideas for creative expression. We hope each survivor will honor what feels right in selecting what he or she likes and needs.
Most images in this book will have value to survivors of all kinds of child abuse. Some drawings are specific to particular kinds of abuse. There is some emphasis on ritual abuse since these survivors are so under-served and it is the author’s hope to increase in this small way the global consciousness that this kind of abuse exists.
Many images include “parts of self,” “inner children,” or dissociated identities or personalities. The reader-artist is encouraged to interpret images of multiple selves in whatever way is most personally useful. For some survivors, “parts of self” are limited to different life roles or emotional states in the present day and the “inner child” is simply a memory of one’s self as a child. For others, more separate kinds of self-states formed as they broke off from the “core” or “original” self in response to overwhelming events. These self-states may now be in the process of integrating into a more unified self or may still be largely dissociated from the usually-conscious self. For some individuals with very different self-states, the pronoun “we” is a better fit than the singular “I.” Such reader-artists may wish to substitute “we” for “I” when reading the self-statements in this book.
This book is intended to be inclusive of all spiritual beliefs, from traditional to purely individual or vaguely-defined. We encourage each reader-artist to interpret ideas and images with spiritual elements as each chooses and to integrate religious or spiritual imagery accordingly.
We wish the process of coloring this book to be one of self-care and for this book to serve as a salve to the wounds of child abuse. We therefore urge the reader-artist to color these images at a pace that is loving and gentle, to take time to contemplate and integrate the material, and to rest.
The healing images in this book are organized into 17 chapters: Safety, Staying Grounded, Self-Soothing, Joy and Play, Hope, Reclaiming My Core, Reclaiming My Feelings, Reclaiming My Body, Nurturing My Spirituality, Self-Love, Love, The Beauty All Around Us, Strength and Determination, Embracing All Parts of Myself, Healing Abused Parts of Myself, Separating from My Abusers and their Abuse, and Acceptance.
Each chapter begins with a page or two describing an aspect of healing. Next, most chapters include a list of ideas to facilitate that aspect of healing. This is followed by suggestions for creative expression. Then the coloring images are listed, each with a self-affirming intention. The next pages are the healing images for coloring. Some of the images include a space for the reader-artist to hand-write a personal affirmation or intention.
Finally, it is the hope of the author and illustrators that coloring these drawings will inspire the reader-artist to pursue more original creative expression, be that through visual arts, writing, music, movement and dance, or inner imagery work, to continue one’s healing and express one’s own truth.