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  • Writer's pictureMary O'Sullivan

The Child Abuse Survivors' Monument

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

This sculpture was designed to commemorate the courage of childhood abuse survivors,

has been sitting in its creator’s front yard for twenty years for lack of a home.

You might be interested in knowing about the statue on the front cover. It was created by Dr. Michael Irving, a sculptor and the survivor of horrific child abuse himself. He is also a therapist (current title: well-being and quality of life coach), and Chris has been seeing him for years. If I was Chris’s first godsend, Dr. Irving was definitely his second. But more about that in another book.

The statue we used for our cover is titled “Reaching Out.” It is one of two figures designed for the Child Abuse Survivor Monument, a project Dr. Irving has been promoting for the past twenty years. He felt that, since there are memorials to soldiers and other heroes, the courageous people who are fighting their secret battles to survive child sexual abuse should be validated with a monument as well. It would also promote discussion of a subject that desperately needs more public consideration. Dr. Irving has been trying to find public space for his monument, approaching municipalities, universities, and other public bodies without success. He is currently discussing a site with a college north of Toronto.

The monument consists of two identical statues flanking a fountain. The most interesting feature of each statue is the pattern of quilt squares on its front and back. There over two hundred of them, each one designed by a survivor of childhood abuse. The square contains a cast of the person’s hand, and words and other figures which express that person’s struggle. There are blank squares included in the pattern: the monument is designed so viewers who wish to participate can dip their hands in the water, then leave their own handprints on a blank square. The inside of each statue also contains space for thousands of paper handprints, letters, poems, and other contributions from survivors all over North America and abroad.

If you want to know more about Dr. Irving and the Child Abuse Survivor Monument, you can go to One remarkable facet of this website is the “monument and quilt squares” feature, which allows you to click on any square on the statue’s picture and see that quilt square up close. There is also the opportunity for survivors to send in handprints, etc., to be included inside the monuments.

You have the opportunity to support the project, if you wish, by signing the petition to find the project a home. Dr. Irving’s campaign would benefit from people demonstrating interest in the Child Abuse Survivor Monument, and it would be a wonderful way to get involved in supporting people like Chris.

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