My camera is my passport. Since restrictions have eased I have wandered the streets of Dublin, capturing life. My photography is my excuse to go places. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.

It’s true that trying to adjust to life for me as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse post lockdown hasn't been " the new normal”. Anything but ....the big crowds, the hugs, life is so complicated at the moment.

It’s taken me ages to write this, I much prefer being behind the camera, you see with photography you don’t have to explain things with words.  But I will give it a go, the only words I wouldn’t use today is my own name, and his.  I don't want to talk too much about what happened for those 2 years, I want to focus on "the now". I really want others to see there is a way through, that's my motivation.

It started about 8 years ago when I was doing my Junior Cert. School was tough for me, and when he said he would give me extra tuition my parents were relieved, and jumped at the chance. And that's when the abuse started, it lasted well into my Leaving Cert preparations. School became unbearable in the end. I couldn’t trust any of my teachers. I couldn’t wait to leave.

By the time I was 18 I was drinking every night of the week. I was a kid without a future. I didn’t mind that, it was my past I dreaded. I always say the best thing I did was leave my teens. Because by the time I was 20 I got sober and through the support of a friend I started therapy in One in Four.

I had built my world around not believing and not trusting anyone, but when I started therapy they just got it, they got me. I connected with my therapists in a way I hadn’t done with anyone since I was a kid. It gave me the space to think and do things. Things had meaning again, that’s when I bought my first camera.

Your teachers are supposed to be there for you, to build you up and see your potential. But he manipulated my family , and took all the goodness out of my life. 

Eventually I was believed, and thankfully he's no longer a teacher.  The thing is, the right people will eventually believe you, that’s why it's most important to carry on.  My therapists belief in me, empowered me, it changed my life slowly and wonderfully.

I don’t know who said it, but it's true “Life is like a camera. Just focus on what’s important and capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.” The only thing they should have added was, make sure you find someone who believes in you, so you can turn your power on.

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