I have always had a terrifying fear of the camera and having my photo taken, so to do a Boudoir shoot with Jo and her team was a really big deal. I was actively choosing to face down my fear and take away the power that it had over me.
My fear developed as a result of my childhood. My childhood was an unhappy one where I had to endure all kinds of abuse from people who were supposed to love me. I was born to a mother who didn’t want me and expressed her hatred for me, a step family who hated me for not being British and a step father who got great pleasure from beating and humiliating me. But this treatment was nothing compared to what I had to endure for nearly 7 years.
From the age of 6 (starting on my 6th birthday) till I was nearly 13 I was sexually abused. My step father started selling me to different men and I was made to take part in depraved and often violent attacks. In an average week I would be brought by at least 3 men and forced to do unthinkable acts that no one, let alone a child should have to do. During this time, I was filmed and had constant photos taken for the pleasure of the men who used and abused me. For me it was a living hell where I developed many crippling fears, one being the camera.
Thankfully somehow the police were given photos and were informed of what had been going on for me and I was removed me from the family to go live with my Nonna. There I experienced the complete opposite to what I had to endure up to that point. I got showered with love, help and support, everything that I needed to help me come to terms with all that I suffered. I soon learnt that I had similar traits that my Nonna had and it was that along with her that helped me heal. She gave me the strength to not let my past beat me, but rather give me a platform to build me from so that I could become the person I am today. It was a hard road and there were many times when I didn’t think I would make it, but my Nonna never gave up and never allowed me to give up.
It was those lessons that gave me strength to face down all my fears one by one and overcome, no longer being the victim but rather a survivor! Having this shoot with Jo was the last one and the toughest. My fear had meant that there were no photos of my anywhere, not even with my own beautiful son. I didn’t want that to be the legacy I left my son, so with my Nonna’s wise words in my heart, and with Jo and the team’s support I was able to face my fear, take hold of it and take away the power it had over me.
I now exist is photos that I chose to have, that I was in control off and something I could be proud to leave my son when I leave this life.
The most important lesson through out everything I have had to go through is this, we determine our own legacies! In life we can choose to be either thermometers or thermostats.
We can be thermometers and be told what we should expect the temperature to be, and, therefore accept all the limitations that comes with that.
Or, we can be thermostats and set the temperature for ourselves, free to be guided by our own hopes and dreams.
Not one of us can deny our pasts, they have already happened. But, we don’t have to let it control our todays or dictate and set limits on our tomorrows.
We only have only life, so we have to reclaim what is ours and remember that we were not created to fit in, we were created in all our own uniqueness to stand out.
As my Nonna use to say, live intentionally, live wild, live free.”
Thankyou for trusting myself and Rachel in looking after you.
I’m so honoured to have been able to help you, you are inspirational.
If one survivor can be touched and inspired by your story and what we’ve created here, then we’ve changed the world.