Fabric of Healing Exhibition
On 26th June, to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Common Threads Project launched a 3D exhibition of story cloths made by survivors of sexual violence in conflict situations. The cloths help give a voice to survivors and bear witness to their suffering and courage. Introducing the event, Melissa Flemming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, described sexual and gender-based violence as “one of the worst crimes of war.” Through a deep therapeutic process structured around the creation of story cloths, the Common Threads Project works to provide vital psycho-social support for survivors by training Mental Health Professionals in the Common Threads approach in Bosnia, Nepal, Equador and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Programme Co-ordinator of the MA in Counselling and Professor in this Department at Webster University Geneva, Catherine Butterly, participated in the event. As a psychotherapist, Catherine works as a trainer, clinical supervisor and Senior Adviser for Trauma Theory and Training for the Common Threads Project. She has trained facilitators in Bosnia, Congo and New York in the past 8 years. An alumn from the Counseling Dept, Cynthia Uccello is also a trainer with Common Threads in Bosnia and another Elizabeth Janz Meyer- Reich, who now works with torture survivors in Vienna is training in the Common Threads method.
Catherine stressed the important role that these cloths play in enabling survivors to speak out -when at first words fail them- as part of their healing process; this creative work, the use of body-based interventions and the solidarity of the women in the circle, enables them to move out of the high anxiety and the frozen state that often result from traumatic experience. The approach takes place over a year and enables deep engagement between the women, allowing safe attachments to form that play a key role in their recovery.
Visitors can visit the online gallery and bear witness to this inspiring work here.