There was anger on the walls. There was pain in the room. There was understanding, courage and occasional triumph, as girls at The Children’s Village reclaim their lives moving on from the horrors of being trafficked. When is an art show more about tears, stories, abuse, denial and revenge? These are the words that came to mind as I viewed the work of twelve girls between the ages of 14 and 18, all residents of The Children’s Village survival program. What can be more horrendous to a young woman’s life than rape, incest, forced sexual activity, imprisonment and objectification? The truth is that, according to the organization’s CEO, Dr. Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, trafficking is on the rise in Westchester: “Children are more accessible to traffickers in alleyways or driveways in suburban communities than they are perhaps in apartment houses.”

The art show was a collaboration between ArtsWestchester and The Children’s Village. It was unforgettable. Teenage girls made artworks, such as illustrations of vaginas with a message “we are not meat.” Another message was “All monsters are human.” Another one says “Don’t let them break you.” It takes a lot of courage to move on; however, these girls, with the help of the skilled staff of The Children’s Village, were turning their lives around together. According to FBI and local law enforcement, human trafficking has ensnared hundreds of women in Westchester County. It was one of the most disturbing yet uplifting evenings I have spent at ArtsWestchester, and we will continue to work with The Children’s Village using the arts to change lives.