Photographer: Sarah Witherington

Photographer: Sarah Witherington

Early Life


          I grew up an outcast. Poor and ugly with bad skin and crooked teeth described me in junior high. Braces fixed my teeth, but my skin and self-esteem took a pummeling in puberty. College was worse. My-never-diagnosed-dyslexia and my ratty appearance gave my depression more strength. After a disastrous start to sorority life, I failedout of school.

 

Navy Life


          Enter the Navy. Testing into the language program in 2007 was the only immediately good thing about my two years in the military. I never fit it. My dyslexia reared again making me fail out of Arabic classes, twice.

          So my beleaguered self-esteem kept me in an abusive relationship. My ex and I broke up for the final time when I reported him to the police for choking me. My chain-of-command swept the incident under the proverbial rug and I was diagnosed as unfit for duty due to my depression. Then, after two years of hell, the Navy and I parted ways.

 
Photographer: Sarah Witherington

Photographer: Sarah Witherington

Back to school


          G.I. Bill in hand, I returned to college and again to my unknown fight withdyslexia. This time, though, I graduated. My diploma wasn’t the only thing I had earned. In the two years it took me to finish my degree in Psychology, I’d spent six stays in the mental ward for suicide ideation. One stay happened in Paris. Wherever I went my relationship in the Navy hauntedme. I had to be bad to be treated like that, and I was ugly. Who would ever want me? 

 

Finally, my day in court


            That was my daily mantra the three years it took the Navy to prosecute my ex. When I faced him again at his trial in 2012 the jury found him not guilty for my charges, but guilty on the lesser charges. Since I came forward first, I was considered the leader who urged the other females to come forward. Without me he’d have gone free instead of being labeled a sex offender and dishonorably discharged, said everyone. All I could hear was how bad I was. He was validated for what he did to me. 

 
 

Photography & Blogging

             I began my first book in January of 2011. Trust Me is a story about a mentally ill woman and the traumatized man who loves her. Through writing it I began to see where I needed to heal. Healing, like editing, was grueling and humbling, but each edit of the book made me stronger.

             In 2013, I began this blog because all the established writers said to write a blog. I hated it. I hated it. It lacked purpose and direction. Then in 2014 another sweet lady I hadn’t seen in 12  years suggested I write a blog about abuse. She’d just told me her story and only knew that I had a bad relationship. Her nudge felt like divine intervention.   

            As for the photography, I’ve always seen the world differently. My pictures are my eyes. I spent so much time feeling ugly and less than everyone else, I prefer the physical beauty of this world. Photography captures beauty when the ugliness of this world wants to shine. For me, taking pictures was the most natural addition to blogging and writing.