-Minnesota State Arts Board - Minnesota North Star

Art of Recovery

Deborah A. Davis

My ex-husband used to laugh that if a woman said to a man, “No! Don't! Stop!” what she really meant was, “no; don't stop.” It was this attitude, and worse, that led to years of abuse and the neglect of my daughter, my elderly mother (who lived with us) and myself. I boasted little skills except as a homemaker, home-schooling mom and wife. So, though I left many times to survive attacks, I always came back to save them because of his threats. I kept silent to preserve his job. I had no other support system. A church that told me I had no choice but to stay and pray. Staying, I took as much of the pain as I could absorb so they wouldn't have to. By the time my daughter started college, I'd saved enough to move us all out. But she was raped the second week of her freshman year, a victim of a “freshman hit list” on campus. I used the saved escape money for her hospitalization. Victimized by a mentally ill father, a molester and a rapist, she was revictimized by the system. The police measured the inches her skort hem was from her knee, and the college, except for court order would have arranged her to sit at a table with her rapist in what they called “student conflict resolution.” It seemed everyone was oblivious. The nurse where my husband worked as a caretaker at a children's camp, said off handedly, “Boy, these kids can sure GET THEMSELVES into trouble!” My art used to be confined to beautiful necessities: quilts, clothes, gifts. But our necessities changed; I began to write and paint the feelings no one wanted to hear. My daughter and I felt as though our hands and feet had been amputated. We had no means of expressing the depth of pain or escaping from it. The result was art that dissects those thoughts and visions, and artists that have learned to dance without feet and create without hands.

Abi's Heart
Deborah A. Davis, Abi's Heart

Combat Wounded Heart of Stone
Deborah A. Davis, Combat Wounded Deborah A. Davis, Heart of Stone

Tethered True North
Deborah A. Davis,Tethered Deborah A. Davis, True North


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