In the lobby of our Beaverton Public Safety Center, visitors will find a powerful visual art exhibit.
This painting series represents the domestic violence experience of one survivor in our Beaverton community. In 2016, Elodee S. was physically and emotionally hurt at the hands of her partner (at the time) and was prevented from calling 911 for help. The incident was investigated and supported by the Beaverton Police Department and prosecuted by the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.
Healing from any kind of trauma is unique to each person and is a lifelong journey. In her healing process, Elodee S. collaborated with visual artist Mya Bessette to create these cloudscapes in 2020.
Violence and trauma impact everyone in our community – directly or indirectly. It is in connection and community that justice and healing can be found. There are many perspectives and voices in supporting those who go through difficult times. We share the words below in recognition of our interconnected community that supports those who are survivors of trauma.
In the words of LeeAnn S. and Stephen S., parents of the survivor:
“Supporting a survivor is never pulling or pushing them and never forcing your will, but coming alongside them, all while being mindful of how your actions impact your person. This is not because they are fragile, but rather because they are owed respect for what they have been through, for what they will go through, and that they choose to engage and reinvest in life. You have to find the strength not to react from your gut but to listen and react from your heart. You must find a way to follow their lead. You will forever be on a path with them, and they are in the driver’s seat. They will set the pace. They will not always have the answers or sometimes even feel like they are with you or that they see you with them. It is okay to sit in the discomfort with them. It is okay for them to work through all they need and for you to just be there for them. And it is also okay for you to seek whatever you need to take care of yourself in the process too. The landscape of supporting a survivor is filled with hills and valleys, bumps and turns - with hope always in the horizon. It requires traveling alongside your courageous person and holding space for their experiences, respect for their choices, respect for their timing, and room for their growth and new awakenings.”
In the words of Officer Amanda Pickar, Beaverton Police:
“You deserve to be safe especially when around people you know and have loved. As police officers, we want to help keep you safe. We believe you deserve to be safe in your home, in/out of your relationship, in your car, at your job, and in our community. We strive to be effective in our job, empathetic in our response, and courageous in our efforts in investigating domestic violence. We know these crimes can cause intense feelings of fear, dread, and anxiety as domestic violence can be a lethal threat. Know your worth as you are destined for greater things in life including healing, self-compassion, joy, and love (that doesn’t result in police being needed). Feeling weak, scared, vulnerable, alone, and hurt can evolve into feeling loved, seen, knowledgeable, and more resilient for the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead.”
In the words of Katrina Rodriguez, Beaverton Police Victim Advocate:
“Life is filled with both times of joy and times of challenge. As advocates, we bear witness and walk alongside people in the most difficult and traumatic experiences in life. We connect people to the resources and services they want and need to survive and to move forward in their lives. It is important for every survivor of trauma to have a voice, feel heard, and be supported in their healing journey. Every person and situation is unique. At times there are no words, but simply being present with someone so that they are not alone. Even so, through the pain and violence and loss of trauma, the amazingness of the human spirit survives and can shine in hope and resiliency. Elodee’s processing, growth, grace, and deep strength have been an inspiration and it has been an honor to support her and her family.”
In the words of Gina Skinner, Washington County Senior Deputy District Attorney:
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home and in our community. It is never okay to be threatened or hurt by anyone you love. Unfortunately, those who abuse often make it extremely difficult for their partner to leave the relationship. Those who abuse will rarely stop being abusive on their own accord. Our role is to hold abusers accountable for their choice to be abusive, according to our laws. This is necessary for the health, safety, and well-being of the victim, their children, and our community. Hopefully, with accountability comes acknowledgement, enlightenment, remorse, and change. Our goal is to make the abuse stop, hold the offender accountable, and provide wrap-around services and support to assist the victim in their healing journey.”
In the words of Elodee S., survivor:
“Survivorscape is a passion project, driven from my experience of intimate partner violence. Although my experience does not define me, it is now a part of my life story; a part that I have claimed. In claiming it, I can bring awareness to a topic that often goes unnoticed or silent. It was through the deepest waves of my journey that I quickly realized these situations happen too frequently and to any gender, race, class, ability, and religion. I want these paintings to mean something to you - whether you find yourself within them or notice the experience of someone you love in them. Your story matters. You matter. You deserve to gain the validation you need.
These paintings hang side by side as a journey, although with trauma of any kind these scenes can flood back vividly and out of sequence.
To my fellow survivors... There is no direct line to healing or recovery when surviving domestic violence or any other trauma. And while our stories may have similarities, they are also very different. I wish we did not have to be similar in this way. However you decide how to heal your wounds and to add this chapter to your life story is the right way for you. You are not alone. In my experience, in what seemed like a never-ending battle, I found hope.
Thank you for taking a moment to be present with these paintings! My desire is that they spark light in conversation, healing in hidden wounds, and awareness to be shared within our community.”
We are grateful that Elodee S. and her family have chosen to share these paintings with our police department and our community. It is an honor for us to display this powerful expression of survivorship and hope.