This post was written by my client and dear friend Sue. She is amazing. Truly. I asked her to tell her story in her own words since I knew it would more powerful coming from her. I feel like in sharing her story it might help others see that none of us are alone in whatever healing process we might be in. Whatever your story is someone else probably has one as well. I think it's important to be reminded of that. So here are her words....
"This is a post months overdue. Why has it taken me soo long to write this? I suppose it’s because nobody wants to write about those scars that cut deep to the bone, even if writing and talking about those scars helps the scabs heal. My photo session with Jen was about helping the scars heal. The scars of sexual abuse tend to wax and wane as time passes on. You have good days, weeks, months, even years….and then out of the blue something reminds you of an innocence lost. Of a freedom taken away from you. For me the camera represented that “something out of the blue”. It was part of my abuser’s arsenal in stealing a child’s innocence. The one thing that should have not made me recoil in fear, look down or turn away became just that for me. Over the years, I tried to fight that fear, I tried to embrace the visual beauty of what the camera produced. Memories. Stories. A lifeline to sweet moments past. But I couldn’t. And it saddened by husband. And other family members. But most of all, me. How could I bury the ugliness the camera represented to me? How could I embrace it wholly? And then I watched my daughter who has battled more demons than any child should, light up in front of the camera. For her, it represented something magical. In Ethiopia, it was probably the first time she ever saw a photo of herself, through the camera screen. It was my time to do the same.
I knew Jen from her time at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. I knew her way with people and images. I knew her role as her mother came first and photographer second. I knew she could hear my story, my fears and turn them into something safe and beautiful. And she could do this with my daughter by my side. One of my sacred familial touchpoints. I will not lie and say that photo shoot was easy for me. It was so hard. And yet the photos of my smile, my body turned into my daughter, those are real and soft, genuine and represent such a moment of ease. I look at my photo shoot once a week. I am reminded that I am not a hostage to the camera anymore….or to my abuser. I can now live in the light of the camera flash and enjoy my story.
Thank you Jen. I love you." - Sue