29th August 2019
Our first photoshoot competition winner, Sammy – a domestic abuse survivor, celebrating being an empowered woman
“Now I’m not your typical female 😪 I am a domestic abuse survivor. Not only have I survived, but I’ve learned from it…”
These were the first words I read from Sammy’s competition entry. The rest of her story not only brought a tear to my eye but properly made me sob! Her tragic but amazing, empowering story about domestic abuse, starting her own business and wanting to empower other women is below. The full story is also published in the Farnham Herald, out 29th August 2019.
Sammy entered my competition to win a confidence-boosting photoshoot, which was featured in my local newspaper, The Farnham Herald.
The competition to win a confidence-boosting photoshoot at my studio in Surrey…
The competition was for women who were in real need of a confidence boost; and who wanted to celebrate themselves as they are or how far they’ve come. I also wanted the winner to be someone who was happy to share their story and wouldn’t mind being featured in the paper and on my blog etc; I was hoping that it would help others who had been through something similar. Empowered women empower other women!
Each and every person who entered deserved a confidence-boosting photoshoot. So I ended up choosing two winners, and I think both are such inspirational, brave, strong women. Sammy is the first… please read her story below…
Sammy’s heart-wrenching, but empowering story…
Domestic abuse and a nasty court battle to fight for her children…
“I was in a nasty relationship for 6 years with the father of my 3 children. It involved being controlled physically as well as emotionally, and I was beaten weekly, if not daily. I went through a nasty custody battle because when I got the courage to leave, he kidnapped my children and disappeared for 2 years. That time was spent fighting in court for custody of my own children. But the law states that because he’s on the birth certificate he had as much right as I did, even though he had a criminal conviction. And in the judge’s eyes, they had a roof over their head, so it didn’t matter. Finally, I won and had all 3 of my precious angels back with me.
“My little girl was born weighing 584g…”
On 16th January 2014, my life was yet again shattered. I’d found a new partner and fell pregnant. However, my baby girl decided she was going to arrive early… I was 23 weeks 4 days pregnant when I arrived at the hospital and was told that I’d have to be 24 weeks for them to help her. Well, bang on 24 weeks I took a turn for the worst and started becoming very ill. I had contracted a massive infection in my womb, which then became life-threatening for me. I was so unwell they decided they had to save me. At 10:23 my little girl was born weighing 584g and at 11:43 she sadly took her last breath in my arms….
That day my confidence, my self-esteem, everything went… the biggest part of me died when she did.”
“Now I’m running my own company, and I’ve got this amazing man who supports me…”
“I am nearly 30 years old and I feel like I have to hide and shy away from the world. I have my 3 amazing children who prove to me each and every day why I shouldn’t give up. They are the reason I am so strong. My partner has not only picked me up when I was at the lowest point in my life, but he has made me believe not every man is the same and it’s ok to be scared and have all these fears. He just wants me to believe in myself and have that confidence he once saw in me 13 years ago.
I’ve now changed my life. I’ve just started my own cleaning company because I thought, everyone needs a cleaner. Everybody hates cleaning. So why not give it a try? And in the past few weeks, it’s boomed. So much so, that I’ve had to ask my best friend to help a couple of days a week, we’re so busy. I’m just so happy with myself that I’ve achieved that, when only a couple of years ago I couldn’t even get out of bed. Now I’m running my own company, and I’ve got this amazing man who supports me no matter what I choose to do.”
“I always look at the positives and I think if that didn’t kill me, nothing can”
“I want to do more to empower people, let them know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, no matter what you’ve been through. Just always keep your head up. I was clearly given this journey because I can take it. So, I always look at the positives and I think if that didn’t kill me, nothing can. I get up each day and I’m thankful for what I’ve got. I just get on with every day, because we never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Just a little bit day by day.”
A review of the photoshoot, in Sammy’s words…
“I wanted to be able to walk out of the studio saying Yes!! I did it!! That’s me in those pictures!”
“Before, I felt so ashamed of how I look because it’s been drilled into me for so many years. I hate cameras, I hate mirrors. There aren’t even many pictures of me with my other half. I just avoid every opportunity at having my photo taken, I just run away. I’m always the one in the background trying to hide from the camera.
But my partner says I’ve got to start believing in myself. He calls me beautiful every day.
I wanted to do this photoshoot because I would love to be more body confident. I know I shouldn’t be so down about myself, I should learn to love myself. And I wanted to be proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and proving that I can do it. I wanted to be able to walk out of the studio saying yes!! I did it!! That’s me in those pictures! Most of all, I wanted to walk out there feeling like a proud woman… and to not feel like a scared little girl anymore. Also, I wanted to do it for my partner, because I feel sometimes it hurts him when I run away, when all he wanted was a picture of us.”
“I was so self-conscious about the way I looked as that was always the target of domestic abuse…”
“The thought of having the cameras on me quite a bit made me most apprehensive. Also, talking about how I feel because I’ve always kept it to myself. I don’t open up a lot. But there’s so much hate in the world. You just can’t keep these things to yourself, it’s best to talk about it.
I was so self-conscious about the way I looked as that was always the target of domestic abuse. I’ve overcome eating disorders and have been on tablets to keep me mentally fit. One of the things that made me so nervous was letting my hair down and being myself or even trying to be sexy (because I’d forgotten how).
In regards to the photoshoot itself, I don’t know what I was expecting… I guess I expected to be quite rigid and sitting with my hands put in places, but it was so much more relaxed! It felt completely normal and I had so much fun.”
“I felt amazing. It’s beyond anything I could imagine. I felt so happy with myself!”
“The whole experience was amazing! The studio is fantastic. I’d never had my hair and makeup done before so that was an amazing experience! When I looked in the mirror after I had my hair & makeup done, I was like, Oh my god! Wow. That’s me. Is that what everybody sees? I felt amazing. It’s beyond anything I could imagine, I felt so happy with myself!
There’s not one picture I don’t like, they’re amazing! It’s literally changed how I feel about myself a lot. Now I believe that if I can do that and look amazing like that, maybe I should start believing in myself a bit more. My pictures show my cheeky side and have really brought out my true personality.
I think I need to take more time out for myself because it brought a spark back in my eye! I really enjoyed it and would definitely do it again.”
“To anyone else in my situation – Do it. Absolutely do it. You’ll just feel amazing.”
“I walked out of the door and I was like a different person. There’s nothing that’s going to stop me now! If I can do it, you can!
Now I smile a lot more. I don’t hide because there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am who I am because of my past, and if that’s what’s made me who I am today, then I’ll embrace it. Now I’m a new woman and I’m a lot more confident.”
Thank you SO MUCH to Sammy for entering my competition and allowing me to share her gorgeous images and story with everyone. She truly is an inspiration.
If you’d like to get in touch with Sammy, click below for the details of her cleaning business and contact form, or you can also find her on Facebook @MummyDayClean:
Hair & Makeup – Kelly @NWMakeup
If you’d like to know more about my photoshoots please check out my portfolio HERE, or
I’d love to hear from you 🙂 Ginny x
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