Domestic violence survivors share stories through photo series - WSMV News 4

Domestic violence survivors share stories through photo series

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The photo series captures the hands of domestic violence survivors. (WSMV) The photo series captures the hands of domestic violence survivors. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A woman said she is sharing her story of domestic violence to help others get away. She is joining other survivors in telling stories through an unconventional means.

"You can look at somebody, and you don't know what's happening in their home," Leticia Allen said. "I just want women to know it could happen to anybody."

Allen said she has no interest in being anonymous. She wants people to see her, know her name and hear her story.

"The first three years we were together were great," said Allen, referring to her ex-boyfriend. "He was the man I always wanted. We laughed, and we had fun."

During that six years with her boyfriend, and with a 4-year-old together, Allen said the relationship became violent.

"After his brother died, we both started doing drugs," she said. "That flipped the switch. For three weeks, almost every night he would beat me. He would choke me. He'd keep wanting me to tell him what I did when he was gone. I kept telling him I hadn't done anything."

Allen said she was scared to leave and lost interest in the things she loved like making big meals for her family.

"I'd sit in the bathroom and cry and pray to God to take me," she said. "I really never would've thought something like that would happen to me."

Allen said it was late last year she escaped with her family, and her boyfriend was charged with domestic violence. He later pleaded guilty to the charge.

"I was terrified he was going to come to the hospital and get me," Allen said. "I'm scared of him, you know. I thank God I'm out."

Karen Lampert is with the Domestic Violence Program and Sexual Assault Services in Rutherford County. She wanted to share stories of clients like Allen while also protecting identities. She contacted photographer Scott Walker with a plan.

"Like faces, hands show every wrinkle," Walker said. "Their significant other may be effected by mental illness. They may be a drug user, drug abuser, an alcoholic."

Walker's photo series captures the hands of domestic violence survivors.

"Often our clients are hurt by hands, but we know hands can do so much more," Lampert said. "They're hope. They're healing. They're hiding, touching, holding. They're survivors, and we can show their strength through these photographs."

Allen's picture showed her preparing spaghetti.

"She told me she loves cooking, so I captured her hands doing something they loved to do," Walker said.

Lampert said the pictures may go in a gallery or a book. She is not sure where they'll end up yet.

Allen said she just wants her picture to reach someone.

"It's going to allow them to say, 'If she can do this, I can too,'" Walker said. "'I can get away if she can get away.'"

"The wings and the heart to me means freedom," said Allen, referring to a small tattoo on her hand. "I think my heart's going to get whole again. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful to have our son. It is a relief not having to live that way. I don't want to do that anymore."

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