Blog

Creating Space

Exciting things have happened since I last wrote a blog. I have created a 501 3(c)nonprofit!! The idea to do this was really based on two assignments that I did last summer and fall in my Masters Program (Advocacy and Political Leadership). I have met so many amazing people that believe in me and want to help my passions take root. It all seems like a dream.

I have been asked to speak at several events this year and next year. I have been writing letters of intent for funding and creating a framework for grants that are available for development and the visual arts. I have been working to complete my first MAJOR commission of my photos. And stressing out a little with trying to get it to look the way I want it too! (A little perfectionist) I have had tons of meetings for dinner and coffee-my dog is starting to wonder what is going on with me!

The spaces that I have create with others are just the kind of spaces that make me believe that there is nothing that can stop this nonprofit from becoming everything that I dream it to be. I have learned so much about cultivating relationships with others who are eager to help me out. I just feel so much love in this whole process. Creating space for the love of my art is overwhelmingly fabulous!

Still to come is two art openings for the “SHE” art presentation in Northeast Minneapolis and Columbia Heights. I will offer some of my photos for sale to raise money for the nonprofit. Additionally, I will have at least one speaking engagement and art presentation in October for Domestic Violence Awareness month. I am sure I will have many more and lots of incredible information to share as the months move forward. I will keep you all up to date!

Love Always Lives Here,

Chrissy

Denied

There is a reason for all things that happen in this life. Well at least I want to believe that. I want other human beings that have experienced the terror and horrors of trafficking to be able to heal so well that they can look back and feel at peace with what happened.

The reality is strikingly different. Your life is forever altered and there are things about you that are no longer the same. I think that if I had willingly changed things about myself I would not feel so much fear in wondering why I am now this kind of person. Quite similar are women, men and children in physically and/or sexually abusive relationships. You are never who you once were. You are now living with the person created by means of violence. You see the world though a tainted lens.

Some days you are able to find the resilience that lies deep inside your vulnerable heart. The place that no longer needs to be shielded. You start to see things about yourself return. Other things that have been repeated over and over again are not as easily changed.

For example I was exposed to a dangerous neighborhood as a child so I have certain survival traits that others may not have. Fast forward to being trafficked and I am now in a potentially life or death situation every hour of everyday. My life after was extremely difficult to navigate at first. I was constantly hyper-vigilant of my surroundings and would read every single person within my eye sight. That is just down right exhausting.

Just Imagine for a minute that you have literally 15 seconds to read the faces of fifteen strangers and decide if they are going to harm you. Don’t forget it’s also important to categorize them from less harmful to most harmful. So the next time you are working with someone who has been trafficked remember you are being categorized from trustful to not trustful within 15 seconds. The power to chose my relationships have lead me to the healing place I am in and this was vital to building trust with others.

Mental health deprivation can be lethal.

Additionally, poor physical health is simple indicator of being a victim of trafficking. When you are trafficked your body is experiencing extreme levels of stress on a constant basis. I look at the health care system that is not aware trafficked persons are right before their eyes. The physical signs that appear are red flags, yet they go unnoticed by most medical doctors and nurses. I fear we are losing the fight to save trafficked persons and more people will vanish without a trace.

We need to ask more questions. We need to say “Do you need help?” , “I am worried about you”, “I am here to listen if you ever want to talk”, “You can trust me to not put you in danger, you make the rules to communicating”. We must raise awareness and everyone has to know what trafficking is and they need to be able to identify it. Finally they need to report it!

Love always lives here,

Chrissy

 

 

SHE-Art Project Final Touches 

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, 

Chrissy 

 

Art Project-The Idea

After going back and forth with ideas of how I could artistically share my story I finally decided on photography. I enlisted the help of my closest confidants, my sister and brother. We talked about locations, props, themes and my emotional health throughout the project. 

I asked my sister to photograph me for the purpose of telling my personal narrative. To capture a time in my life that has been the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. She didn’t even hesitate. She agreed. 

With the intial idea of re-creating my past my heart sank to my feet the day we were supposed to take sunset photos at the local shady motel. I was ruminating about how I should portray myself in these photos. I was making myself sick. Finally I called my sister to let her know there would be a change of plans. 

We met at Betty Dangers a popular local Northeast restaurant. There was a bridge near by that crossed over the mighty Mississippi. I was wanting to take pictures on a bridge. The shear structure of it captivated me. Here I am a women who has a million emotions running through her blood at this very mintue and who just realized that she almost re-traumatized herself by ruminating on how she should portray herself who is now walking towards the river.

Thank goodness for my sister. I look up at her and she patiently asks me if I’m ready to take some photos. I think to myself you just saved me from myself. She takes lots of pictures and we talk about the message I’m trying to get across. 

Finally we started walking back to our cars and I keep saying to myself you are doing the right thing by sharing your narrative, by exposing your truth. You could help some one who is looking for a way out. You have the strength to make this about women who are marginalized and abused. How they are dehumanized for the purpose of exploitation on various levels.

This was only the beginning of what was yet to come.

Love Always Lives Here,
Chrissy

Accumulation

We find stuff. We buy stuff. We are gifted stuff. Some stuff we don’t ask for and are burdened with. Some stuff means the world to us. Other stuff is easily thrown away. We accumulate emotions like stuff. These can be happy, sad, neutral, overwhelmed, over joyed, lost, sorrow, tenderness, scared, anxious, love, lust, resentment, insecure and unsure.

We accumulate trauma as well in many different ways. Trauma can be masqueraded as an emotion we display. We get trauma from our DNA, indirectly through others shared experiences and directly from people and natural disasters. Throughout our lives we experience many kinds of trauma accumulation. Sometimes we don’t even know we are experiencing trauma. The words just do not exist sometimes for what we experience.

We accumulate healing. We find our way through by being able to make choices for ourselves. The choice of how and when to heal. The choice to feel extreme emotions. The choice to accumulate strength and weakness through the stuff we are not sure we want to keep or throw away.

#befree #hotline #233733 #howmanymore #traffickingawareness #endit

My Labor and Place In Economics

Each of these photos were taken recently and hold a special significance for me. However the ones of my eyes are the expression of the mask that I was forced to wear as a commodity to be purchased on an online marketplace. The market where I was for sale was not a free market in the sense of economics as I know now. It was a black market where every part of me was for sale with the possibility of death at the hands of another. As I drew the fish underwater it symbolized for me that we can take off our mask and when you look at the big world we all just a little fish in a big old sea trying to get ahead and finding financial security.

Lovely Phone Pics.2015-2016 1008I think that my friends and family may portray me in a photo advocating for others and working towards increasing my education so that I can live with more financial security. They might picture me in my garden or sitting with friends in a coffee shop. They may also portray me as someone who spends her money on traveling the US and the world. In all the ways they would portray me I would be a part of the economic system.

 

 

I was one of the 27 Million

27million

Some days it doesn’t even cross my mind. Other days it hits me like a freight train and I am paralyzed by the flashbacks. Life after can be a challenge. It can also be a grateful time. And it is different for every survivor. I was blessed to have a very caring family that gave me space and choice on how and when I was going to heal. I was given places to live and protection from my abuser. Not every survivor has this. That is one reason why I am grateful for my life now.

I still think about the other girls who didn’t get away and died. The ones that will never get away or will die trying. I wish I could tell all of them how much they are worthy of safe love and protection. I wish I could dry all their tears and bandage all the wounds. I wish I could save them all. I wish.

Will you join the movement to end modern day slavery?