This article was originally published in the Sept. 10, 2017, edition of the Sun.
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“Love who you are,” a painting by Jane M. Campion, who is a young, vibrant professional and practicing artist, inspires survivors of sexual assault, according to the painting’s owner, Quiana Langley-Carr, who keeps it prominently displayed on her office wall at Pathways for Change Inc.
A couple of years ago, Jane was showing some of her paintings at Electric Haze, a Green Island bar and live music venue. Jane always believed she was meant to reach out and help others through her art, but little did she know that selling this painting to Langley-Carr, who is Pathways’ hotline and volunteer coordinator, would be the catalyst for a new future.
Jane remembers having several childhood friends who went through a lot of trauma, and she was sometimes even a witness to those events. She says what a lot of people don’t realize is that, when we hurt, our family hurts and our friends hurt. In college, Jane became a women’s studies and multicultural studies major.
Today, Jane works as a sexual assault counselor and advocate at Pathways for Change, a nonprofit, independent rape crisis center serving 47 towns and cities across Central Massachusetts. Worcester-based Pathways, located at 588 Main St., is an organization that “addresses the impact of sexual violence by providing quality and multicultural services to those whose lives have been impacted by sexual violence, and to provide education geared toward ending violence,” according to a statement on its website.
Every day, as part of the Pathways counseling staff, Jane provides free, confidential support for survivors of sexual violence.
Sometimes she will meet them at the hospital, or sometimes it will be anonymous support calls. Perhaps she will be at one of the local schools, working on outreach and awareness.
“If you talk to older generations, they will say, ‘We never had someone to call and talk to about this,’ ” Jane says.
Although these services have been available through Pathways for the past 45 years, the subject is still taboo. One of Jane’s main goals is to help end the silence around sexual violence.
What does it take to give life back to someone who has been a victim of sexual assault? Simply this: a deep, burning desire to help end the silence about an epidemic that has plagued humanity since the beginning of time.
Pathways does a lot more than just talk with survivors; counselors point them in the direction of the right medical care, long-term psychological care, victim-rights resources and even legal support.
“Organizations like this definitely do not exist everywhere,” Jane says, “but they should.”
According to recent statistical data from RAINN, if 100 people are sexually assaulted, then only 19 people will report the assault. Out of those 19, seven get a conviction, and 2.3 will see the alleged perpetrators actually serve time in jail for their crime. Jane believes that getting the word out about places like Pathways, and becoming more of a prevalent presence, will help survivors to be able to access the services they need.
That’s why Jane’s work is so crucial to the fabric of modern healthcare, and it needs to be spoken about and praised more.
Many people believe that the more we speak out about sexual violence, the better we will be able to combat this epidemic. “What I hope I’m providing is validation, that the survivors are heard, and that their story isn’t silenced,” Jane says.
Making a connection to her personal artistic work is how Jane first came upon her new career, and she is continuously working on coming up with new ways to help survivors get back on their feet.
In speaking about the individuals she helps every day, she says, “They often feel like there’s something they could have done that may have resulted in a different outcome. It can be life-changing for them to feel like they didn’t make this up, that none of this is their fault.”
Pathways provides 24/7/365 free, confidential multicultural and multilingual support counseling services to anyone 12 years and older. Those services include a Deaf Survivor Program (DSP); survivors of human trafficking/sexual exploitation support groups; and Sexual Assault Youth Education (SAYE) & Males Advocating Change (MAC) prevention-education programs.
Jane is leading the way toward building new and even more comprehensive services, such as empowerment through the arts, or as she calls it, EmpowART for survivors of sexual violence. She is also figuring out how art can be another healing tool that survivors can use in a way that is validating and somewhat underappreciated. Art promotes self-awareness, and helps survivors figure out challenges in a new and often healing way. Pathways currently has options for survivors to take group or one-on-one art sessions, led by Jane.
Founded on the philosophy of empowerment, Pathways for Change continues to grow and pursue healing journeys for each and every survivor, as well as their significant others, family and friends.
Using art to help make these connections, artists like Jane Campion make sure that where the silence ends, the healing begins.
If you need support or want to know more about Pathways services, please call its toll-free hotline at 800-870-5905, or email Info@PathwaysForChange.Help. Also, visit Pathways for Change, @centralmasspfc on Facebook and Instagram. For more of Jane’s artwork, visit @JMCustomArtistry on Facebook and Instagram.
Laura Marotta is a former Worcester Public Schools art teacher turned executive director and co-founder of Creative Hub Worcester.