Songs of Survival: A Benefit Album to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends.
― Alphonse de Lamartine

In 2016, six extremely BRAVE women shared their personal stories of overcoming the trauma of sexual and intimate partner violence. A full year before the #MeToo movement was launched, these women were determined to break the silence surrounding the issue by sharing with the world their personal stories—through song.

Supported by a grant from Broadway Cares, The Angel Band Project set out on a mission: to empower and support survivors through music therapy while also creating an album that could help thousands of survivors during their own healing process.

For six weeks, these women met individually with board-certified music therapist Courtney Arndt, MT-BC, in the comfortable music room at our office. In this safe and private space, each woman was encouraged to write down her own personal journey from trauma to healing. Then, with Courtney’s support, the stories were put to melodies, and ultimately, into chord progressions, refrains, and verses.

Telling your life story isn’t easy. But for those who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault or intimate partner violence, it can be extremely difficult to tap into memories or open up about those deeply personal experiences. Victims are often told that they “don’t matter” by their abuser; they are told that if they tell someone, no one will believe them. Or worse, that they will “pay for it” if they do.

But when supported by a caring and compassionate music therapist, who has the skills necessary to help an individual with self-expression through songwriting techniques, healing and sharing is POSSIBLE. Music therapy is giving survivors their voices back, and the songs on our third benefit album, titled Songs of Survival, showcases the work of these six women.

Their songs are vastly different from one another in genre, tone, and message. The first song on the album, “Rise Up,” was written by Hannah, a survivor of sex trafficking. Hannah, who played the piano as a child, struggled to get through the trauma she had endured for over five years, and opened up to Courtney about her own story of survival.

“You threw me in the corner, my head held down.

You threw me on the ground, and then I lost my sound

Lost and afraid, I was terrified. Too terrified to fight.

You said ,’Walk with me, and you’ll be OK. We’ll get you through another day.’

And I’ll rise up, and I’ll show you. I’ll show you how I will get through.

I’m stronger than you think, I’m so much stronger than my pain.”

Another survivor, Judy, plays the Tibetan singing bowls as a professional sound therapist. She produced two songs, “Stolen Freedom,” and “Home,” to express her own lifelong journey of healing. The improvisational nature of these two songs, featuring chimes, gongs, singing bowls, violin, and cello, takes the listener through a haunting yet deeply rich exploration of the survivor experience. Debra Busch’s song, “I’m Not Silent Anymore,” is a more direct musical portrayal of what someone can experience over a lifetime of abuse.

“…being told I’m worthless, there isn’t anything I would amount to.

I believed those lies.

Spent too many years letting people run over me.

I forgive for me, not for them.

I’m not silent anymore.”

Breaking the silence is one of our main goals at The Angel Band Project. We are using music to start conversations and create communities of hope, understanding, and compassion. For every copy of Songs of Survival that is sold via digital download or physical CD format, a copy of the CD is given to a survivor who is receiving counseling. Survivors helping survivors—it’s that simple.

We hope you will take a listen to these songs, and perhaps open your own heart a little wider for the 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men in the U.S.* who have experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. It’s not just a “female issue.” It’s a crisis that annually affects over 321,500 individuals in our country. It’s time to stop the abuse, the harassment, the victimization. And we’re doing our part to support survivors, one song at a time.

Songs of Survival is available for download on iTunes or physical format here.

Donate to The Angel Band Project here. All donations are tax-deductible.  EIN #80-0707717.

YouTube video on Songs of Survival:

[arve url=”” thumbnail=”” title=”ANGEL BAND PROJECT SONGS OF SURVIVAL I” description=”AngelBandProject” upload_date=”2016-11-01″ duration=”4M45S” /]

*Statistic from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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About the Author | Rachel Ebeling

Co-founder and Executive Director of The Angel Band Project and lifelong lover of music, Rachel has been breathing fire into the organization since its inception back in 2009. When her lifelong best friend Teresa Butz was murdered in a horrific act of sexual violence, Rachel was called to action to fight against the epidemic of sexual violence in the U.S. Rachel is responsible for day-to-day operations of the organization with a focus on growing The Angel Band Project into a meaningful force for healing and social change. Rachel draws on her background in project management, marketing and the media in her role as executive director. She is committed to Angel Band Project’s mission of “breaking the silence that surrounds the issue of sexual violence while creating a space for survivors to find healing and support through music therapy in the aftermath of sexual violence.” Through hard work and vision, Rachel has led the organization to house programming in three cities – St. Louis, MO; Seattle, WA; and New York City, NY.  Rachel received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1992, and was given an award for her music therapy advocacy in 2018 by the Women of Achievement organization in St. Louis, MO. She and her family live in St. Louis.

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