I am an interdisciplinary artist, community arts leader and activist, embracing myself as a survivor of childhood rape and domestic abuse through visual art, poetry, music, writing, multimedia and performance. I am originally from South Africa and now residing in Belfast (UK) after working around the world as a teacher, social edupreneur and wellbeing programme designer/researcher. Despite fostering a regular creative practice, I was previously reluctant to share my art as some of my work exposes my healing journey from childhood rape, by an uncle. Since making a Facebook disclosure, #MeTooWhenIWasAChild in 2018 and recovering from uterine surgery later that year, I have been prioritising my wellbeing while upholding my response-ability to children and other survivors. Although I engaged in visual art training in high school and university, and qualified and worked as a primary school teacher with specialities in Art, Design and Technology, my approach to writing, visual art and music making is instinctive and expresses themes about healing from trauma, mental health, mindfulness, activism and the restorative beauty of nature.

While art helped me cope within the restrictive social and cultural norms of the community I grew up in, I previously had inhibitions about themes expressed due to a sense of shame and a fear of hurting my family. In recent years, I have discovered that music, writing, painting and photography have not only been therapeutic, yet have allowed me to connect with other survivors, activists as well as artists. With the encouragement and support of artists and creative professionals in NI, I have been breaking free from mindsets that shame survivors of all forms of sexual violence, into silence. This is leading me to grow as an artist activist who shares personal experiences and insights about intrafamilial child sexual abuse and domestic violence through a range of media with the aim of de-stigmatising these issues and advocating for healing through the arts in diverse and interactive modes that include products, performances and programmes.

Professional Background

After completing a Bachelor of Primary Education (1999, University of KwaZulu Natal) I taught at government, private and international schools in SA, South Korea, the UK, the Philippines and Sudan. In 2011, I founded eduSOIL, a social enterprise that addresses the need for mental health and citizenship education, especially in underserved communities where youth and educators experience learning barriers and emotional upheaval caused and compounded by issues that include poverty, violence and environmental degradation. I have trained as a mindfulness facilitator (2015, Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University) designed innovative tools as well as delivered online and in-person trainings for communities around the world. I have served as the Director of Design For Change (DFC) Philippines, South Africa and Sudan, guiding learners and teachers to take action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals using a design thinking framework and was invited to the Vatican in 2018 to celebrate this work. Recognising the role that research plays in education policy, I completed a Masters in Education (2019, University of Nicosia) investigating the impact of a yoga and mindfulness early years programme for children in inner-city Johannesburg.

LinkedIn Profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/juanitarea/

Although I have supported the wellbeing of others for many years, I feel that I am now standing fully in my own feet as a survivor and as an artist, which is empowering me to interweave my training and experience in primary and art education, social edupreneurship, yoga and mindfulness programme facilitation to des-stigmatise intrafamilial child sexual abuse and support the wellbeing of children and adults through creative and contemplative practices, while nurturing my own.