We chose to call the survivor studio The bIRch House as a way to honor Elaine Westerlund, co-founder of Incest Resources, the first organization in the country for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She once mentioned that a grove of birch trees was her sanctuary as a child. And when you understand the meaning of the birch tree, it’s no wonder.
A birch tree symbolizes new beginnings, regeneration and hope. From the book The Healing Power of Trees: birch is for “overcoming difficulties; pliability; re-establishing boundaries; purification and renewal; releasing old patterns and shedding unhelpful influences; [and] resolution of conflicts.” As one of the first trees to grow after a fire or some other devastation, birch paves the way for the gradual return of life. This is what we want to give survivors – life after devastation. The bIRch House will be the sanctuary for survivors of incest and childhood sexual abuse as we heal and live more fully.
The spelling of the name, highlighting IR in the center of the word bIRch, will honor the legacy of Incest Resources as a source of healing and community for survivors and as the predecessor of The bIRch House.