New artwork gives hope at The Healing Center

Next to the jeans are a framed series of notes, written by the artist, Pam, a creative, business manager who just celebrated her 57th birthday. The notes depict the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband.

Next to the jeans are a framed series of notes, written by the artist, Pam, a creative business manager who just celebrated her 57th birthday. The notes depict the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband.

If you visit The Healing Center, you’ll notice a striking new piece of art that hangs in the living room. It’s a pair of women’s jeans, adorned with rhinestones, powerful words and objects: a watch, a key, a rose, a pair of sunglasses and a cross, hung by ribbons from the pockets.

Just 17 years old, Pam married the handsome man she dated in high school. To the outside world he was full of charm, but to Pam, he was a monster. Upon threatening to kill her parents if she didn’t marry him, Pam said “I do” to an early life of silence and pain.

“All I wanted when I was a teenager when this was going on, was for one adult to just come up and say, you don’t seem alright, what’s going on?” said Pam.

Now, a devoted supporter of mental health and abuse awareness causes, Pam participates in programs that provide grief support to children in need and activities that shed light on the epidemic of physical and sexual abuse.

Pam donated the jeans to Hope Shining Blue, a Denim Day event that benefited The Healing Center and raised awareness about sexual violence. She created the jeans during a painting party organized by Vanessa Johanning, owner of Art Wings Studio in Waukesha. During the party, artists and supporters gathered to decorate jeans to put on display at the event.

Two of The Healing Center’s founders, Linda Davis and Abby Davis Williams, learned about the decorated jeans and were so moved by the piece that they contacted Frank Sadler of Sadler Gallery in Milwaukee to professionally frame and install the piece in the space. Frank was also inspired by the artwork and offered to donate the framing of Pam’s notes (see below to read Pam’s notes) which are on display beside the jeans.

Maryann Clesceri, The Healing Center

“We feel so honored to display this artwork. The jeans show our clients that they are not alone and that healing from sexual abuse is possible. This piece of art depicts our work and our mission,” said Maryann Clesceri, Executive Director of The Healing Center.

In keeping with its vision to offer
a holistic approach to overcoming sexual abuse, The Healing Center offers a variety of healing services including art therapy, group and individual counseling, and bilingual advocacy. They also give clients free vouchers to utilize movement and body work activities, such as Reiki and massage.

Similar to the services offered at The Healing Center, Pam credits much of her own healing to work she’s done through counseling, journaling, running and yoga. “I probably became an adult in my 50’s because you live as your wounded self until you heal…until you can look at yourself, at that child, some of us don’t grow up until we’re in our latter years. I feel blessed that now I’ve become very clear about what my vision is,” remarked Pam.

In addition to these healing outlets, Pam talked about how creating the denim art felt like the “Aha!” moment of her healing journey. She explained, “I think the jeans were a rite of passage, to say this is a celebration; this is a victory. Through these jeans, I can be more transparent. I can share my dreams for others.”

Pam believes that creating the jeans allowed for crucial conversations to take place, including a very meaningful one with her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She had never disclosed the threats she’d received from her ex-husband and after speaking with her mother, felt a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She has also been approached by family members and friends who wish to share her story with others who are affected by abuse.

As Pam reflects on her decision to donate the jeans, she remembers feeling very emotional after learning that they were now on display at The Healing Center.  “When [I heard] that the jeans were framed, I thought, oh my goodness, this is a gift; it resonates with others. Oftentimes we think that we’re the only ones.”

She calls donors Linda and Abby her “angels” and when asked what word she’d use to describe her life after participating in the jeans project, Pam joyfully and confidently answered, “grateful.”


To learn more about The Healing Center or to make a gift, please visit The Healing Center or contact Stephanie Shabangu, Foundation Development Coordinator at stephanie.shabangu@aurora.org or 414-219-4716.

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