Is it a coincidence that April is both National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month?
Perhaps the choice of April to promote awareness of both child abuse and animal cruelty was coincidental. The two issues, however, are deeply intertwined. Recent research has demonstrated a strong link between animal cruelty and domestic violence, leaving little question that animal cruelty has a painful impact on our human society beyond the pain for the animals.
We cannot ignore child abuse. We cannot ignore animal abuse. Both involve emotional and physical injury that hurts both the individual victims and the communities in which they live. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
My artwork often takes a whimsical and cheerful tone as I explore and celebrate the nature of animals. Animals bring us back to our innocence, and that innocence often brings out such beauty and benevolence in us. The spirit of joy and eager wonder that is experienced through the love of a pet takes us back to a time where we were young and unencumbered by life’s trials and tribulations.
Many children cannot remember such a time, however, despite their youth. Child abuse has encumbered them with experiences much more trying than their young lives are prepared to handle.
Still yet, as a children’s therapist (my day job), I am often amazed at how children affected by trauma and emotional turmoil still have a sense of wonder about their lives. I see a lot of children affected by child abuse and domestic violence, and it hurts them deeply. But hope and wonder are still there, even if one has to dig deeply to find it. My hope with these children is to build upon their still-existent sense of wonder, so that they can recover and feel safe again.
My artwork dances around a number of themes. Pet art reflecting the character of cats and dogs is the most prevalent theme, but issue oriented work is also very prominent. One major artwork, “Jesse’s Journey”, explores the resiliency of children affected by the pain of trauma, as does the piece “Rediscovery” that was recently selected as the winning piece at the Hearts with Hope art contest for the Domestic Violence Project in Canton, OH. My “Anonymous Feline Spirits” series addresses the issue of homeless pets and the need for spay/neuter programs in our communities.
I ask you to revisit these works in the effort to heighten your sensitivity about the critical issues of animal and child abuse during this very important month of awareness. We can do something about both problems. What can you do? Check out the websites for the ASPCA and Pinwheels for Prevention for a variety of things that you can do in your community.
Every piece of hope matters.
Life is an Adventure!