Scrapbooking project helps women heal after abuse

By: Caitlin Hart
Some things are better expressed through images. Even when dealing with the trauma of an abusive relationship, creating art through a scrapbook of pictures can help a person express their feelings, says Sophie Tamas, Banting Fellow with the Department of Geography and the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.
Through this idea, Tamas has developed a scrapbooking website to help abused women heal from traumatic relationships.

Sophie Tamas presents her scrapbooking project to an audience of Carleton students and faculty at the Imperial Building on Bank Street, Oct. 24. Photo by Caitlin Hart

By: CAITLIN HART

Sophie Tamas presents her scrapbooking project to an audience of Carleton students and faculty at the Imperial Building on Bank Street, Oct. 24. Photo by Caitlin Hart

Sophie Tamas presents her scrapbooking project to an audience of Carleton students and faculty at the Imperial Building on Bank Street, Oct. 24. Photo by Caitlin Hart

Some things are better expressed through images. Even when dealing with the trauma of an abusive relationship, creating art through a scrapbook of pictures can help a person express their feelings, says Sophie Tamas, Banting Fellow with the Department of Geography and the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University.

Through this idea, Tamas has developed a scrapbooking website to help abused women heal from traumatic relationships.

On Oct. 24 Tamas presented her project, Mapping Memory: Scrapbooking the Impact of Abuse, to Carleton students and faculty at the Imperial Building on Bank Street. The event was hosted by CU in the City, a Carleton initiative that brings researchers together to share their work with the community.

The concept of scrapbooking as a method for healing from abuse came to Tamas after ample research on how women move on from traumatic relationships.

Before the development of her project, Tamas ran workshops for female victims of abuse. During these sessions, she noticed that what few resources existed for women who had escaped abusive relationships focused on how to leave the relationship – but offered no advice about what comes next.

“We assume that if we simplify and solve ourselves we can move on,” Tamas says.

But the women Tamas met said moving on was like enduring their own death, Tamas says.

“Memory is slippery and malleable.”

Women have a hard time leaving because at one point there was love, Tamas says.

The purpose of her scrapbooking project is to make memories tangible through images, and to give women a ‘graveyard’ to store them. This way, she says, women can “put trauma somewhere so it doesn’t need to be everywhere.”

Tamas wants to create a community for women to share their stories.  Her website Postscrap is set to launch in the spring of 2014 and will allow users to post their images and stories on an interactive map. Similar to Tumblr, users will be able to create a profile and comment on the images posted.

Tamas discovered that women in the scrapbooking community are often on stress leave or dealing with mental health issues. Creating something beautiful helped them get through difficult times, she says.

Moreover, these women took an ‘accept and move on’ approach to life’s problems. Curious whether this process could be applied to dealing with the aftermath of abuse, Tamas began scrapbooking after her own divorce.

“Even if the content was miserable, the process made me happy,” she says.

Tamas hopes giving women a place to scrapbook their stories and images will help them heal from abuse.

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