Art therapy as a means for women survivors of human trafficking to express themselves

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  • Art therapy offers the possibility to provide these women with psychotherapy.
    Art therapy offers the possibility to provide these women with psychotherapy. Source: Fundació Surt.

Expressing feelings and experiences through art is part of the recovery process for women that are treated at the Fundació Surt. Their works can be visited at the Galeria Atelier in Barcelona.

As part of the comprehensive support programme for women survivors of human trafficking (HT) at the Fundació Surt, art therapy is one of the tools used. “We work based on two axes: artistic materials and the link between the therapist and the person”, says art therapist and an expert in trauma Ángela Galán. She is in charge of the Fundació Surt workshop, and the result is eleven fanzines entitled “Relat’ART”.

These eleven fanzines are the work of women from very different backgrounds who arrived in Barcelona and were the victims of a trafficking sexual exploitation network. As the spokesperson from Surt says, this constitutes a grave human rightsviolation. Millions of people are affected around the world, and most are women. In Spain, and in 2019 alone, 542 victims were identified, 71% of them women and 96% fell in the traps of trafficking for sexual exploitation.

“Since the fanzine workshop is a group proposal, the work done has focused on the bonds it can create between women”, Galán highlights. The Fundació Surt has been helping women on their way to gaining autonomy for twenty-five years from a feminist and intercultural perspective.

“Art therapy offers the possibility to provide these women with psychotherapy; women for whom speaking about trauma can feel threatening –the person responsible for this workshop ads– It isn’t a face-to-face session with the therapist, it is all done through materials”. In this case, the goal is to allow women to tell their experience. “Finding similarities in the recovery process of these women also helps reducing the feeling of estrangement and solitude”, Galán concludes. 

Surt participates together with CESIE and Libera (Italy), KMOP (Greece) and Patrir (Romania) in the European HEAL project for the protection and reparation of survivors of sexual exploitation. Besides working through art, the initiative works on skills relating to the labour market, psychological support and seeks to foster networking among specialized services accompanying women.

On 20 July, SurtSicar and Exil, three of the participants in the HEAL project, ere able to share their experiences during an event to exchange on methodologies and best practices for psychosocial support. The event was co-financed by the European Commission.

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