Healing Strokes: One survivor’s story of domestic abuse

Local

WICHITA, Kans. (KSNW) – One out of four. That is how many women are exposed to violence by their intimate partner. It happens every 20 minutes.

For a Wichita woman, she was that one.

Ann Hotchkin is a survivor who best shares her story on a canvas in a quiet room that’s been turned into a studio.

“It is the space where healing commences,” she says. “Then the creating began.”

Hotchkin’s art shows pain through paint. It is a view of domestic violence that not many are ready to see.

It is one a brush can paint but never cover up.

“We had in Sedgwick County in 2017, 27,000 domestic police cases, in our own back yard, right here,” she says.

What she and thousands of others went through is not easy for people to understand.

“You don’t even realize that it is happening to you,” she says.

Hotchkin’s paintings are a journal of her abuse, pictures she says were taken by her abuser showing abuse.

“I remember not wanting to do that,” she explains. “I remember like either do it, or what if.”

In 2018, Hotchkin was brutally beaten leaving her with injuries and medical bills. Now, she is conquering her emotional pain. She is painting a picture of hope for the future.

“That’s what I want. I want people to just look at it in the rawness and the beauty that comes from learning to be a survivor,” she says.

Many of her paintings have sold but her ultimate goal is to spread awareness and help other women who are struggling.

Her art has inspired people within the art community in Wichita. One of those people is Jennifer Steadman, who owns Color T-Hair-apy and helps host art displays during First Friday.

She was made aware of Hotchkin’s artwork in September, just weeks before Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Steadman shared Hotchkin’s artwork and says many were inspired by the paintings.

Not only were adults impacted, but even children whose parents wanted them to be educated on a difficult but important conversation.

Steadman put together a photo shoot with local photographers and editors, featuring others sharing their pictures and stories of survival.

“Goosebumps everywhere,” says Steadman. “Nobody talks that way and addresses things. That hush, hush subject that we don’t talk about it.”

Steadman says next year she and other businesses on the block are planning to do even more in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Hotchkin says her art is a way to share her story of survival with others. She wants to focus on her own journey and not focus on the man convicted in her abuse. He is currently serving a 77-month sentence in a Kansas prison for 1 count of aggravated battery and 2 counts of aggravated domestic battery.

There are many options for victims of domestic violence to get help in Wichita.

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