A powerful photo exhibit on domestic violence titled “Exposing Scars: Giving Abused Women a Voice,” is open through Sunday in the Orange Coast College Arts Center student project space.

In the exhibit student photographer Jennifer George strongly exposes the world to domestic violence, giving abused women a voice with her unique style of photography and bold statements through her own experiences.

“My project on abuse is also a personal journey for me. As a victim myself, I do understand the feeling of hopelessness and despair that victims have,” George said.

I wasn’t expecting as a journalist the feelings that came over me when I walked into the gallery. I truly felt, through the women in the photos, that the struggle is a life long fight with emotional trauma hanging on like a stubborn hangnail.

“It is important and powerful for women to come together in times like this,” 26-year-old film major Tianna Terry said of the exhibit.

“I’m a survivor of this violence myself, and I wouldn’t tell anyone because of the embarrassment, so when walking into a room during school I could notice my boyfriend’s friends laughing at me.”

The women in the photos follow a similar theme — captivity, isolation, silence, pain and hopelessness, but that doesn’t mean their stories don’t contrast each other.

Statistics show that each day, three women die from domestic abuse with one out of three experiencing some type of abuse before they are 18.

According to Alanna Vagianos from the Huffington Post, the number of American troops killed in the Middle East from 2001-2012 was 6,488 with the number of women in the United States murdered by their male partners or ex-partners was 11,766.

“The effects of abuse-related trauma cause a lifetime of depression, anxiety, self-harm, low self-esteem and more. It is this damage I want to expose,” George said.

All the women photographed in Exposing Scars had experienced some type of domestic abuse. To the side of each portrait was a small excerpt from the woman discussing how their photo represented the type of abuse she had gone through.

“This is a wakeup call to yourself and all young girls. It’s a true eye opener because it can happen to anyone and the trauma passes down to everyone else effected,” Terry said.

Along with the photos and the excerpts, in a majority of the displays is a poem correlating with the theme. Poet Diantha Zschoche poured emotion into every stanza with understanding enlightenment.

“The purpose for poetry is to give another meaning to the type of art being shown. When writing the poems, I’m not trying to describe it, but to give it a voice,” Zschoche said.

As people walk though the gallery, the ceiling speakers play stories from women and their families who have been traumatized by domestic abuse. One would think that the tone of this room is dark and painful, but it’s simply the opposite.

The goal of this project is to display hope and give women realization that there are people out there who would be happy to lend a helping hand instead so sitting back and acting like nothing is wrong.

People need to notice that all this rampantly still exists, and will continue if society keeps it hidden behind a curtain, and that’s why George is trying to rip the curtain down, she said.     

“Because you get it, when other people don’t. You see what other people don’t. And actions always speak louder than words,” George said.

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