Breanna Muise displays one of about 20 paintings she has created through the Heal Your Heart with Art program. Third Place Transition House and Jackie Waugh, a domestic abuse survivor, are once again offering the painting sessions for other female survivors thanks to funding from the Municipality of Colchester County and 100 Women Who Care Truro. Raissa Tetanish – Hub Now

TRURO – Breanna Muise finally took some time to herself, and found a creative outlet.

Muise is a domestic abuse survivor, and faithful participant of the Heal Your Heart with Art program – a collaboration with Jackie Waugh and Third Place Transition House.

“If this helps even one woman, then it’s worth it,” said Muise, about why she wanted to share her experience with others.

“I had a traumatic past and don’t generally take time for myself,” Muise admitted, noting she found out about the program through a friend. “I see this as an opportunity to take two hours a week to myself. I tend to worry about my kids, and not so much myself.”

Muise started with the program in September. It’s operated through the transition house, with Waugh leading women through painting sessions. Waugh will often share her own story of survival, but participants don’t have to if they don’t want to.

Through her time participating, Muise said she has about 20 paintings, which she proudly displays at home. Her two daughters will often wait up for their mother, anxious to see what Muise brings home.

“It’s a comforting place. We can share if we want, or not. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. Sometimes we don’t say anything and just let things out on the canvas,” said Muise.

Thanks to funding through the Municipality of Colchester County and 100 Women Who Care Truro, Waugh is once again joining Third Place Transition House to offer the painting program. Two sessions will be held over the summer – July 11 and Aug. 8 – with regular sessions beginning in September.

Lisa Cochrane, a support counsellor at Third Place Transition House, said the sessions are open to women who have gone through domestic abuse, and new participants are always welcome.

“We’ve had women asking for this program (since previous sessions), if it will continue, and what the summer will look like,” said Cochrane. “That’s very encouraging and a strong indicator there’s a need for the program.”

Following her traumatic past, Muise said she didn’t look for counselling for herself.

“I made sure my kids had what they needed, and I held a lot in,” she said. “Because of this program, I’ve been able to express myself verbally and within the canvas. I can paint something that might look dark to somebody else, but that might be my happy place.”

“It’s such a personal thing,” said Waugh. “Each one is very personal.”

It was through art that Waugh found healing from her own previous relationship, which is why she has been leading the program for others.

“All these women have experienced similar things. No matter what you say in the room, you’re understood,” she said. “It’s a thing of trust. You don’t have to feel ashamed.”

“We have a lot of fear in our lives and it’s nice to have a place to share,” added Muise.

For more information on the upcoming sessions, including to register, call Third Place Transition House at 902-893-4844.