A Story Behind Every Portrait: The Cataclysmic Event
May 29, 2019 | By: Ayla Quellhorst
I'm sure most readers have heard the old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words." Being a photographer, I can attest to the fact that there lies more falsehood within that notion rather than can be found truth in it.
Furthermore, I don't make this claim merely from the point of view of a photographer but as a woman who uses the lens to communicate the various sides of myself. While some images represent what I wish the world to see, others allow a glimpse into the pain that haunts me.
There's a Story Behind Every Portrait
As is the case with anything in this universe, the woman you see before you today was born from a cataclysmic event that occurred when I was in middle school. You could say I became a statistic, where, according to Linda Lowen, a contributor for ThoughtCo, an estimated 25 percent of girls experience sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18.
Among other statistics in Lowen's article entitled Cold Hard Facts: Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse, she points out how, in sexual abuse cases involving girls, 33 to 50 percent of perpetrators are family members. In my case, my father was the one who sexually abused me. Lowen further writes, "According to the American Medical Association, 20% of all victims develop serious long-term psychological problems."
In one of my articles shared by Carson Rae on her blog, I wrote about how I woke up one morning thinking that what happened to me as I slept was only but a dream. "I had a bad dream one night of someone sneaking out of my bed and out of my room but I brushed it off, thinking it was simply a dream," I wrote.
I further wrote how the sexual abuse from my father escalated to where I awoke to him molesting me. He no longer concealed his perverse acts with his daughter behind a thick curtain of darkness but had become so brazen as to continue on until the early rays of sun began to show. In some morbid attempt at redemption, my father told me that he was sorry and that I could "turn him in" if I wanted to.
It wouldn't be until around the end of the school year that I revealed to a friend what my father had been doing to me. And despite my friend's age (between 11 or 12 years old at the time), she had the wherewithal to grab my hand and say, "We are going to go see Mrs. X right now!" Of course, that led to three interviews with a detective, with which I was forced to relive each nightmarish encounter I suffered from that monster.
Why Women's Intimate Portrait Photography
So, it's no wonder that, just as Lowen wrote in her article, I have suffered for years with psychological problems ranging from post-traumatic stress syndrome, chronic depression, low self-esteem, anxiety over sex, among other things.
However, to make a very long story short for my dear readers, I've come a long way; even though bubbling at the surface is a panic attack waiting to happen - I have come a long way. Much of that journey was accomplished while in the military, while the rest has been with Rob (the lovely man in my life) by my side. Together, we explore this thing called Boudoir Photography.
For those curious as to how sensual photography has played a role in healing my shattered heart and awakening my withered soul, the answer is quite simple: by mustering enough bravery to overcome the undeserved shame imposed on you by others, you show the world and yourself your body is a work of art.
As the lens brings forth the true beauty that you are, you become more aware of your self-worth, of your strength, and discover that you love yourself more. What our abusers attempted to take from us, we take it back by facing what we fear the most: accepting who we are.