Friday, October 8, 2010

Paws for Peace

I drove towards downtown Orlando with the sun rising with a glorious orange glow from behind the skyscrapers. I parked behind the Day building near Panera's. There was already a small crowd of people gathered on the east lawn registering for the dog walk around Lake Eola. Bright purple bags were handed out to each dog owner who registered. With all the frantic butt sniffing action and the occasional threatening barks, I decided to focus less on the dogs and more on the hard working volunteers. Former Democratic State Representative, Dick Bachelor spoke to the gathered crowd but the microphone cut out so I didn't catch much of what was said. I knew that funds raised would go to help victims of domestic violence. 0ne speaker asked each person in attendance to tell five friends about how rampant domestic violence is. Three out of every four women will be victims of a violent crime during their lifetimes. Slightly more than half of female victims have kids under 12 in the house. Scattered all along the dog walk route were signs relating facts abowt domestic violence.
When all the dog owners and their pets were out walking, I decided to look at the colorful T-Shirts which were hung on clothes lines. The Women's Resource Center supplies the shirts to Art Therapy courses at the Women's Residential Counseling Center, the Howard Philips Healing Tree, the Victim's Service Center and Harbor House. Harbor House helped organize the days event. The T-Shirts were boldly painted. This is what some of them said:
Silence the Violence 4-Ever.
I am afraid, help me.
Teach love, respect and equality not violence.
Judeth Johnson, age 40 of Orlando was beaten to death allegedly by her boyfriend.
Because of his choice to beat my friend, I too, am scared for life.
I have the right to live happy - unhurt and safe.
He should fry for what he did to her.
I deserve to be loved.
Scotty raped me on roofies. He's dead now, call it karma. I love myself again.
What didn't kill me made me stronger. No one deserves to be abused. Real men don't hit.
If I cried for help, if I cried rape, would you believe me?
To dad, I made this shirt for you. What you did was wrong and dangerous. You hurt Jordan and you hurt mom. Please stop drinking. Why did you do it? I love you. -Taylor and Jordan
Mental abuse hurts.
We will never die as long as we are remembered.
U deserve true love.
There is light. Faith in god will heal your wounds.
Loyalty, Oppression, Violence, Enraged. This is the love I learned from you.
As I read, I felt a wave of anger and sadness that we live in a society that looks the other way as women and children are abused. The only thing I can do is tell you, and hope you tell others. Help stop the violence.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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