One in three women worldwide have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence, and tends to be underreported (meaning actual statistics are most likely higher). This means one in three of the women in our families, neighborhoods, offices, and schools are assault survivors. Why are music and music therapy particularly effective in helping women dealing with abuse?
My guest today today is joining me from our neighbor country, Canada! Dr. Sandi Curtis is Professor Emeritus in the Music Therapy Program at Concordia University in Montreal. She is an internationally trained music therapist with more than 30 years’ experience in clinical practice, education, and research. Dr. Curtis specializes in work with survivors of violence and is the author the 2019 book, Music for Women (Survivors of Violence) on how women can use music to recover from the harm of abuse.
- What are the superpowers of music that make it so effective in this therapeutic context?
- Music’s power in:
- breaking isolation (a common strategy of abusers);
- establishing connection between humans;
- giving voice to thoughts and feelings;
- telling one’s story;
- developing self-acceptance and self-compassion;
- acting as a vehicle for understanding among family members;
- proclaiming truth;
- bringing about cultural change.
- How exactly is music used as a therapeutic tool for those who have experienced violence?
- A few of Sandi’s (MANY) go-to female empowerment artists are Tracey Chapman, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Trisha Yearwood, Awkwafina, Mary Chapin Carpenter.
- Sandi’s 2019 book, Music for Women (Survivors of Violence) helps women use music to recover from the harm of abuse AND for personal growth and empowerment.
- Music has had a role in all social change movements, and can change culture and attack the roots of the problem of violence against women.
- No musical background is required to experience music therapy’s benefits.
- There are many resources on Sandi’s website, including her interactive e-book and her #BeyondMeToo film.
- What is happening right now in the MeToo sphere, in US/Canadian culture? Trends? Are we making progress?
- How can we use these resources preventatively in parenting and education?
- Violence against women can be both overt and covert.
- Sandi’s website includes links to email and social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
- Sandi’s 2019 interactive e-book, Music for Women (Survivors of Violence) is available on her website and through Barcelona Publishers.
- Resources from Sandi’s #BeyondMeToo film:
- Find a music therapist in Canada Canadian Association of Music Therapists
- Find a music therapist in the US: American Music Therapy Association (music therapy may be covered by insurance)
- Help at Concordia University: Sexual Assault Resource Center
- In Montreal: Montreal Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1-888-933-9007
- In Quebec: Quebec Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-363-9010
- Quebec Sexual Assault Provincial Helpline 1-888-933-9007
- In Canada: For support to deal with abuse or violence ShelterSafe and Ending Violence Association of Canada
- In the US: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 OR 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE
- We referenced Ep. 43: A combat veteran tells his story and shares how music is serving those who serve our country, with CreatiVets’ Richard Casper
- You may also enjoy these episodes:
- Ep. 20: Music Heals the Soul, with Music for the Soul founder & Dove Award winning songwriter Steve Siler
Ep. 14: The Healing Power of Music for Child Soldiers and Refugees: with Hollywood Music in Media Awards Nominee Samite Mulondo
Ep. 34: Music as palliative care, a container for sacred moments, and lifetime preserver of memories; with Crescent Cove’s Katie Lindenfelser
- Ep. 84: Music’s redemptive & restorative power in prison environments, with Arts Capacity founder Holly Mulcahy
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Sandi says: I would like to share a song I wrote (“To Be Free”) while working with a woman survivor of male violence at a women’s shelter – it speaks to the issue of violence on one hand and to the great resilience of the human spirit on the other hand. It shows the true transformative power of music.
And that is a little bit of the YouTube audio from Sandi’s song, “To Be Free”. Thank you so much to Sandi for sharing with us today, and for all she does to enhance lives with music. I definitely want to keep this topic and the statistics we discussed in mind as I go about my daily life. I know that just keeping in mind how many women experience violence will give me a more compassionate perspective on people as I interact with them, and more motivation to speak up when I see or hear something inappropriate. This conversation was also a good reminder to all of us who are parenting boys – we parents can really be instrumental in preventatively changing culture through how we raise our boys and interact with their friends. If you or someone you know has experienced violence, be sure to check out the resources in the show notes – and share this episode with anyone you know who may benefit from it. There are links in the show notes to Sandi’s website, book, and #BeyondMeToo film. I’ve also listed the resources that she mentioned are included at the end of the film, so you can have quick and easy access to those. Many of the links are for services in the US and Canada, but we do have a lot of international listeners; so if you can recommend services available in other countries, please let me know; I would love to add those to the list. There is a link in the show notes to the episode we referenced in our conversation about veterans healing from trauma through music, as well as a few of our other episodes related to music and trauma healing, including Music Heals the Soul; The Healing Power of Music for Child Soldiers and Refugees; and Music’s redemptive & restorative power in prison environments. You’ll find a transcription of this episode and all links in the show notes. If you’ve seen or experienced the healing power of music, I’d love to hear about it! You can connect with me on email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. All links are on my website and in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.
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