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Until All Lives TRULY Matter By Paulissa Kipp

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This piece was born of anger and heartbreak over the fear and injustices so prevalent in the United States.  The election did start the racism, Islamaphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, rape culture or misogyny – it merely took it out of the shadows.  As more and more people died in the streets, were told they did not have sovereignty over their own bodies or lives, the rallying crying in response to the hurting was the Uber-invalidating

“All Lives Matter”.

So I began documenting all of the ways we show people that they don’t matter:  that their lives and safety don’t matter, that who they are – the very things that make them magnificent – are to be feared and punished.  And if they are really lucky, they can be punished, detained, deported and possibly, die to be society’s poster child.

“Just conform and pull yourself up by the bootstraps right out of the womb and everything will be OK”.

Puritanicanal, much?  By the time the concept sketch was done, I had filled over 20 pages of the ways we show people their lives don’t matter.  This piece speaks to that.
Don’t tell me that ALL lives matter until they truly do. Don’t tell me that until LGBT lives matter, homeless lives matter, veteran lives matter, poor lives matter, those with mental health challenges lives matter, women’s lives matter, the lives of people of color, refugee lives matter, and Muslims matter. Until then,

​ ​Until All Lives TRULY Matter By Paulissa

sit down and shut up with all lives matter. Until it is evident and people are not dying by virtue of their position in life, the color of their skin, their sexuality or gender, save it for when it is really true.

Should ALL lives matter? Absolutely! But they don’t currently in a myriad of ways. So use your voice to get into the trenches, meet someone who is different from you and learn from them about their unique challenges and work to solve problems rather than armchair quarterbacking.

Until ALL lives matter is true, spare me the platitudes.. They are meaningless.

Painting info:  Until All Lives TRULY Matter
 40 x 40" gallery wrapped canvas
 Mixed media:  collage, acrylics, altered tags, deconstructed coin belt

The Haunting of Callayosa: Rape Is Real ~by Paulissa Kipp

training.creativementalhealth.org.uk

 

Halloween – the haunting time.  A day for costumes, to be anything one wishes to be if only for a few hours, a day for cuteness, scary movies, candy, pumpkin carving, haunted houses and memory making.Growing up I secretly resented Halloween (other than chocolate) because as a person born the week prior to Halloween, I was always the recipient of the horrid orange and black Halloween birthday cake that stains your mouth, teeth and tongue black. I wanted to celebrate my journey around the Uni-Verse day my way: with music, German chocolate cake, friends and family who were happy for my existence in this world and wanted to gift me with love (and maybe a little chocolate and wine as I got older).Hanging Around

But on Halloween 2003, the haunting was much more real and there were no orange and black Halloween birthday cakes, horror movies, masquerade parties, costume parties or trick-or-treaters. There was real horror.

I spent the evening watching Vincent Price in “House of Wax“. I don’t do slasher movies as a general rule and much prefer suspense of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Alfred Hitchcock and Poe varieties. The movie ended, I showered, checked the doors to be sure they were locked and went to bed.

3:17 a.m.

I was awakened by breaking glass. I tried to grab the baseball bat I kept by the bed, but before I could reach it, I was choked until I began gasping for air. As I fought to breathe, my attacker held a knife to my throat and told me that he would slit my throat if I made a sound. I screamed anyway but no sound emerged. I screamed and screamed but nothing came out. My screams were caught in my throat. He tossed me around like a ragdoll, moved me into the prone position and moved the knife from my throat to my anal area. “One false move and you will need a bag to shit”.

pauilissa-edanaI fought as hard as I could while being held down and beaten. He rolled me over so that I could see his “face” – hidden by a Freddy Krueger mask. The moonlight and street light highlighted the Scorpion crawling out of a sugar skull tattoo on his arm. I knew my attacker – a family member recently angered by my refusal to assist him by taking him into my home. “I don’t invite trouble to my front door” I had responded when the request was made. So trouble came looking for, and found, me.

The knife was cold against my skin as he traced my throat, belly and vagina with it before plunging clumsily and violently into my sacred space. I fought: oh how I fought. Clawing, biting, kicking, hitting and spitting. To no avail. When he was finished, he further invaded my sacredness by using my body as a toilet – the ultimate message of worthlessness. He ran out the door after wiping himself off on my sheets.
The unheard scream escaped once he left. I screamed for help; too weak from the brutality to walk outside and go for help. I crawled to the phone and shakily dialed 911 to report the rape. It took 45 minutes for police to arrive. I don’t know that I ever convinced the responding officers that no, I hadn’t been partying, that Halloween wasn’t my thing and I had been home all night.

I owe my life to the advocate who was with me through the questioning, rape kit and documentation at the hospital, who believed me, held me as I shuddered and provided resources for help.

I pressed charges, went through the trial, had MY life thoroughly examined and got a conviction of my rapist: 25 years in prison. Twenty-five years. Except it wasn’t 25 years. Thanks to Nebraska’s good time law, a prison sentence recalculation error and cover-up, my rapist was released in ten years.  Another haunting.

What is it like to live life as a rape survivor?

In a word, exhausting. Anxiety and hyper vigilance reign. Intimacy is impacted, sights, smells and noises can bring things back like it was yesterday. I startle easily. I sleep with my hands balled up in fists, ready to fight at a second’s notice. I sleep even more lightly than I previously did.  Haunting.

Yet, my strength has been forced by vulnerability. With support, therapy, time, the love of a good, patient and understanding man and a knowledge of trauma and its effect on mental health, I am moving forward as a Callayosa (a fire flower) rising from the muck. I am an advocate, speaker and teacher. I share my truth when appropriate to educate and support those who need a voice. Those who need to know that what happened to them does not make them less valuable and magnificent. My voice will not be the Unheard Scream. I will not be silent.

Dear ones, you are not what happened to you. You are so much more: strong, a survivor and as magnificent as the stars. You have the power of the stars, the comets and the Universe for you are born of the stars, are shined upon by the sun and moon and smile the rainbow.

paulissa002To those of you who have not lived through this kind of trauma, I offer this: Be kind. Don’t give in to the 24 hour media cycle of victim blaming. Don’t ask what was she wearing? Don’t ask: Was he gay when a male is assaulted. Instead, if you need to lay blame, put it squarely where it belongs: On the shoulders of the rapist. Most of all, BELIEVE the victim. There is no merit badge for having shitty things happen to you. Survivor is not a label people willingly use. Before you begin with pointing to instances of false accusations: Yes, they occur from time to time and are more rare than common. BELIEVE the version being shared until there is a reason to believe otherwise and allow that reason to be fully investigation by authorities and aired in a court of law for false accusations if necessary. This is how we as a society stare down rape culture, address the prevalence of rape and support survivors.

For help 24/7, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673 and 911.

Citations:

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network https://www.rainn.org/statistics

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/datasources.html

Resources for Healing

Books on Recovery

  • The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-By-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault, by Aphrodite Matsakis
  • Recovering from Rape, by Linda Ledray
  • Journey to Wholeness, by Monique Lang
  • If She Is Raped: A Guidebook for Husbands, Fathers, and Male Friends, by Alan McEvoy
  • The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Abuse, by Wendy Maltz
  • How to Survive Sexual Assault for Women, Men, Teenagers, and Their Friends and Families, by Helen Benedict
  • I Can’t Get Over It, A Handbook for Trauma Survivors, by Aphrodite Matsakis
  • Hush, by Nicole Braddock Bromley

Books for Friends, Family Members and Partners

  • When You Are the Partner of Rape or Incest Survivor: A Workbook for You, by Robert Barry Levine

~ Paulissa Kipp

 

 

Throughout our lives, we get groomed to be acceptable to others: our parents, our teachers, employers and society at large. For those with lived experience with grief, mental health challenges, chronic disease or abuse, the stakes are even higher.  We have had to modify our behavior, our essence and even our thoughts to try to maintain a sense of safety in the face of disapproval and many levels of battering by others.  In the process, we give away pieces of ourselves – our freedom to show up in living color.  The freedom to express ourselves in the clothes we wear, how we style our hair, the words we use, how we move through the world, use our bodies and enforce our own boundaries.

We are told that we are too loud, too quiet, too serious if we aren’t perpetually smiling, angry or non-compliant if we say no, anti-social if we take time for ourselves or a victim if we are working through healing from lived experience.

Little by little, society tries to either erase us or mold us like clay to reflect it.  It is time for a revolution.  A taking back of every piece of ourselves – a rebuilding of the soul.  We have the power to make ourselves whole – we don’t need the validation of others to be worthy of our existence and autonomy.  We build our tapestry, one golden thread at a time, one red thread at a time and it is beautiful.

LICHEN GROWTH By Paulissa Kipp

Creative expression is each of us rebelliously taking ourselves back and saying “no, THIS is me”.  You ARE art; a magnificent masterpiece of all that has gone before and all that is yet to come.  Every word you speak, every truth you speak to power, every story you own, every color you choose, word you write is you being present.  No one can erase you.  No one can groom you to stay small any longer.  Creativity is presence and it cannot be erased – it gives voice to both the seen and the unseen.  Be a messy, magnificent Rebel of Presence.  You are enough and you are your own. ~ Paulissa Kipp

 

Survivor Love Letter ~by Paulissa Kipp

Beloved,

You may be wondering if anyone cares about what happened to you, if you are heard and seen.  Rest assured you are.

You may feel as though every person who looks at you can see your pain and only the acts that were perpetrated upon you.  Rest assured that this world can see your light, magnificence and strength.

You may wonder if you will ever feel safe again.  Safety is many things, dear one.  You will learn what safety, at its deepest, soul level means to you.  Both within and outside of yourself.  Maybe safety for you means being able to freely express yourself:  to write, dance, speak, journal or make art.  Maybe to listen to music that speaks to your soul.  You will learn to navigate the world in a different way and you will be the person who will see what others don’t.  To ring the bell when something isn’t right.  Because with survival comes wisdom.

Mandajoy By Paulissa Kipp
Mandajoy By Paulissa Kipp

You may think you are alone, not enough and you may doubt your worth and judgment.   You are NOT alone.  So many of your sisters and brothers see and hear you and we are holding space for you.  We have loving hands for you to hold onto and strong shoulders to help carry the pain.  You will learn that your gut is your best compass and you can trust it.

You may feel that your scars – emotional or physical – are all that remains of you.  Beloved, you cannot be wiped away.  You are a Phoenix resting and you will rise again.  This walk is not one you need to walk alone.

You may feel that the darkness will eat you alive.  Baby steps, dear one..  Strength is forged from vulnerability.  Every day that you get up, talk, speak and love yourself creates more space for your light to shine.

You may feel as though the future only holds pain or certainty.  You have permission not to know all of the answers.  Resources and information are there for you now or whenever you are ready.

You are precious and you are loved.  You are not alone.

You have the power of the stars, the comets and the Universe to manifest your dreams. For you are born of the stars, are shined upon by the sun and moon and smile the rainbow.                                             ~ Paulissa Kipp

Paulissa Kipp’s Art of Becoming

Expressing The World Within~ Paulissa Kipp

Self-taught artist Paulissa Kipp thrives on the artistic vibe of Omaha, Nebraska.  Living in the Midwest but residing in the city offers cultural diversity and creative outlets that often rival cities with larger populations.  Paulissa discovered her creative soul through heartbreak, medical concerns, abuse and depression.  A published photographer, author and artist, she creates hope via color, lines and captured light.

Free To Be Enough By Paulissa KippSharing an address with PTSD, anxiety and bipolar disorder, Paulissa turned to photography and art journaling as a means of expressing what was difficult to verbalize.  A child abuse, domestic violence and rape survivor, Paulissa discovered the value of art journaling via a Women’s Writing course offered through the North Omaha Summer Arts project.

The Path By Paulissa KippIn 2010, Paulissa was undergoing back to back medical issues:  a torn ACL, a ruptured ovary that took 6 months to diagnose and a full hysterectomy 9 months later due to undiagnosed endometriosis.
Sinking intoa deep depression, she sought a way to express the emotional, mental and physical pain she was enduring.  An artist friend suggested art journaling.
Her first piece, “Can You Hear Me Now?” depicts a quack doctor holding a tin can telephone and lays out the frustrations:  6 weeks to obtain an appointment, multiple phone numbers that did not reach the correct department, dismissive medical professionals and more. Paulissa used the completed art during sessions with a therapist to show the level of frustration and showed it to each doctor she met along the path to correct diagnosis, surgery and On The Radar By Paulissa Kipprecovery.  Realizing the power of visual journaling, she began teaching art journaling in a mental health facility.  Paulissa strives to empower her students to discover their own resilience, worth and to unlock their magnificence.  She believes that “Seeing your own beauty and soul is a marker of recovery and a sign of the Phoenix. ”

“Words fail me at times.  There are moments when being articulate and introspective is of little help.’’

She found that support team members often do not engage in active listening.  The ability to make the invisible visible through color, lines, words and images is empowering.

“Each piece is representation of a moment in time:  a thought process, an epiphany about who I am as a person, light and dark, sweet and sorrowful.”

Willow Weep For Me By Paulissa Kipp
Sometimes, a piece is a reminder to be in the moment as with “How To Tame A Dragon”.  Other times, it is a reminder that love is a prayer or that “When I Grow Up, I Will Be Free To Be ENOUGH.”  Some pieces explore a geography of the soul that requires many vessels to traverse.  “Willow Weep For Me” is a reminder that strength comes from vulnerability; it comes from tearing down the walls that surround our hearts and minds.

I have noticed that in my darkest hours, that is when my aLet Love Be Your Prayer By Paulissa Kipprt is the most colorful.  When it is dark around me, I create the color. I create the light. During the darkest hours, I can create the most light.  The more color I use, the more hope returns.   Ironically, what began as a lifeline has now become a part of my passionate self-care.  A meditative check in with myself.

I may live with a mental illness, but I will stand up to fight stigma.  It is only when those who live with stigma stand up and show the world that we can be successful, productive and add value to the world that stigma can be combated.  I am nearly 50 and have spent the first half of my life undiagnosed.  I will not spend the rest of my life in the shadows. ’’

Paulissa has been featured in numerous publications and art shows:

The Creative Mental Health Guide Jan/Feb 2014, March/April 2014

Contributor to Shutter Monks2014 Journey to Wholeness: Abuse Survivors Art Show
Kent Bellows Studio & Center for Visual Arts

Savor The Flavor In The Bluffs featured artist

EFD: Starship Goodwords Anthology

Notes to Self: Women’s Writing From the Heart
Sems Redux by Charles Tichy – photo series for the book

How We See It……Our View of Our Worlds Volume I-III” which benefited the  NOW Foundation’s Love Your Body Campaign, a charity related to body image and eating disorders. 100% of the profits from this book were donated to NOW. More information can be found here

+Plus One Collection eBook and mobile app, which benefited kiva.org

Exposed – G+ Photography Journal February 2012

My online portfolio   My blog   My Facebook artist page

 

Enough of Depression

DEPRESSION
A rut
A period of time

An economic downturn
A time of sadness or challenge

ENOUGH
A feeling of being satisfied
A lack of need

The convergence of depression and enough brings stigma

If we simply prayed enough
Played enough
Slept enough
Believed enough
Were enough
Everything would be OK
If we just
ENOUGH

~ Paulissa Kipp

Survivor Love Letter ~by Paulissa Kipp

Beloved,

You may be wondering if anyone cares about what happened to you, if you are heard and seen.  Rest assured you are.

You may feel as though every person who looks at you can see your pain and only the acts that were perpetrated upon you.  Rest assured that this world can see your light, magnificence and strength.

You may wonder if you will ever feel safe again.  Safety is many things, dear one.  You will learn what safety, at its deepest, soul level means to you.  Both within and outside of yourself.  Maybe safety for you means being able to freely express yourself:  to write, dance, speak, journal or make art.  Maybe to listen to music that speaks to your soil.  You will learn to navigate the world in a different way and you will be the person who will see what others don’t.  To ring the bell when something isn’t right.  Because wounding and survival bring wisdom.

Warrior Of Love Betrayed-Paulissa Kipp

You may think you are alone, not enough and doubt your worth and judgment.   You are NOT alone.  So many of your sisters and brothers see and hear you and we are holding space for you.  We have loving hands for you to hold onto and strong shoulders to help carry the pain.  You will learn that your gut is your best compass and you can trust it.

You may feel that your scars – emotional or physical – are that remains of you.  Beloved, you cannot be wiped away.  You are a Phoenix resting and you will rise again.  This walk is not one you need to walk alone.

 

You may feel that the darkness will eat you alive.  Baby steps, dear one..  Strength is forged from vulnerability.  Every day that you get up, talk, speak and love yourself creates more space for your light to shine.

You may feel as though the future only holds pain or certainty.  You have permission not to know all of the answers.  Resources and information are there for you now or whenever you are ready.

You are precious and you are loved.  You are not alone.

You have the power of the stars, the comets and the Universe to manifest your dreams. For you are born of the stars, are shined upon by the sun and moon and smile the rainbow. ~ Paulissa Kipp

 

Activist, advocate, mixed media artist, author, Mental Health 1st Responder, Certified Peer Specialist, photographer and speaker. Paulissa Kipp brings awareness to the need for social change with line, color, motion, words, camera lens, words and through strength of spirit.

Find her at:  https://about.me/paulissaisms

 

Thistle Strong ~ by Paulissa Kipp

The summer of 2011 brought heavy flooding and devastation to the Midwest. Nourishing water delivered death and destruction. Yet I wandered by river bank and there in front of me a thistle grew.  Drowning yet standing strong, as purple, fragrant and thorny as ever.  The thought occurred to me that in the aftermath of devastation, only the strong things with tender hearts and spirits will thrive.

I wonder why

WORDS

Sweetly spoken with barbs that pierce bring

Fears like rain and fragrance to bear

THISTLE STRONG

Gnarled like an arthritic hand

Smells like life

Rock solid I will endure

THISTLE STRONG

With the love it sometimes takes, your heart is free

When you forget my love, I try to remind you

The sun that alights upon my wishes resting upon my heart

THISTLE STRONG

Paulissa Edana Kipp, Certified Peer Specialist
Callayosa in Chief, Third Eye Phoenix
The Art of Intuitive Becoming