Looking over and over at the grayscale photos of myself I almost don’t recognize her. She is but a dream a memory really. It’s baffling to imagine that those pictures tell my narrative.

The shades in the room are closed quietly and all lights are switched to the off position. In a dark room all that is visible is the digital copy of my first narrative slide. I make the audience aware of my intentions sharing with them my photos, that I will be mostly silent and I ask them to take in each photo.

As my heart rages through my flesh now sitting on the outside of myself. I have given the most vulnerable part of me a voice through photos. It is my truth. My story. My life. All while touching others own feelings of betrayal, anger, fear, rage, and dehumanizing experiences. Connecting the similarities of our collective narrative.

Those that didn’t know me during this time shutter in their seats feeling a roller coaster of overwhelming emotion. Tears drop instantly. This is the entire audience. I am scared to speak. I click through each photo and poem reading each in my head and looking closely one more time to check if there is something new in them that I might have missed before.

I look out at my audience to determine the attention of their faces and body movements. I don’t know that I will ever lose my ability to determine my safety in the company of others. I may never be able to be in a situation or place that doesn’t require me to scan for my safety.

Daily I am in an mostly constant state of scanning my environment and making decisions based on that scan. This behavior is often call hyper-vigilance and is caused by repeated traumatic events where you don’t feel safe. The belief of “not feeling safe” was not only because I was trafficked it enforced the belief I experienced in my formative years.
The images puncture the very life inside of me. I swirl emotionally in rumination circles. I began repeating my internal thoughts. Knowing that I have all that I need inside me to break through this negative and damaging self talk. Collecting my wisdom like sea shells I speak these words ‘This will be the last time that you deny my humanity. This will be last time you compromise my agency. This will be the very last time you bargain me as a commodity.’

SHE is FREE to lift her VOICE and SPEAK

My voice breaks at the middle to end of the second sentence. I breathe in labored through tears and a pained voice. This time I get to finally tell my truth. I get to decide how all that has happened to me ends. I get to decide my healing, my heart and my narrative. 

I found the courage that lives in all the dark parts of ourselves. My experience of sharing the truth in photos has become the message of many women who have ever felt lost, alone, isolated, forgotten, disposed, used, confused, hopeless and oppressed. 

Humanity and whole human health is at the root of the message. There is a problem and that’s the trafficking of humans for monetary gains. We must never be silent about the things that make us uncomfortable and scared because if we do we will forever be trapped in the cycle of apathy.

Love Always Lives Here,