‘Anon’, a survivor of domestic abuse, came to our studio having struggled for the confidence to put her body on display. “Now,” she says, “I can look back at these pictures as a reminder to myself of what I can do.”
After having enjoyed an empowering boudoir experience with BYB, she very kindly agreed to share her story of body confidence, to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and to help inspire others.
Q) How did you perceive your body prior to your boudoir photoshoot with BYB Photography? Do you think this was affected by your relationship?
A) I have always struggled with body confidence, especially as a woman and a busy mum. But yes, this was especially bad following the relationship. I felt stripped of my confidence and who I was as a person.
Q) What made you decide to book a boudoir experience?
A) I’ve actually been thinking about doing a boudoir photoshoot for a while now. I have even booked two in the past with different studios and cancelled. I don’t know why but I’ve never been the kind of person to show off my body, even just a bit of cleavage in a dress. I felt like I couldn’t do a boudoir photoshoot; I just wasn’t confident enough.
But then a few weeks ago, I saw BYB’s confidence boost competition to win a free experience voucher. I liked that BYB was targeted at everyone – not just the stereotypical ‘perfect figure’. It doesn’t matter who you are, anyone is welcome! It was amazing looking at all the different ladies on social media!
I was very honest when filling in the application form, saying that I was a domestic abuse survivor and that I needed help building confidence. Then I got the phone call from Nicola saying I’d won! My fiancé has been amazing. His support and encouragement throughout my journey have been so beneficial – especially getting me through BYB’s doors. I’ve even made a book of my images to give to him at Christmas!
Q) How did you find the experience?
A) I was definitely nervous when first going into my photoshoot, but I settled in quite quickly. I can be quite hyper-sensitive and hyper-vigilant, so for me to have my underwear on in front of someone and not have them say something negative feels strange. But all the staff were so lovely and friendly throughout my whole experience!
When I first saw my photos, I immediately cried! I kept thinking: “this is amazing, I love it!” I especially loved the Dark Room and the really empowering shots.
Even just a year ago there were times when I would wake up in the morning and just go and see my counsellor in the same clothes that I had slept in. That’s all I could do; it was difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Now, seeing myself up on that screen in the viewing room is like “oh my God!”
Q) Do you feel any differently about yourself following your BYB experience and if so, how?
A) Yes, I do. I keep thinking: “have I really just done that?!” I feel empowered. Now, I probably will put that nice underwear on at home!
I can’t say I’m all okay now because that’s not the case, but I am better. Right now, I’m just trying to be happy, enjoy life and be grateful for it! Doing this photoshoot at BYB is one part of my journey, next is a tattoo! I’d also love to do public speaking to empower women.
My journey now is about building up my confidence. BYB has definitely helped with this! I can’t wait to tell my counsellor about my boudoir experience, he’ll think it’s amazing!
Q) Is there anything you learnt during the experience that you can now apply to your day-to-day life?
A) Yes, I would like to be more confident in my day-to-day life and I think BYB has definitely helped with that. It’s made me feel sexier.
Recently, I went to try on wedding dresses and there was a lot I felt I couldn’t wear or show off. I’m really not the type of person to try and stand out or say, “look at me!” It’s a process, but I definitely need to start pushing those boundaries a bit more. I want to start wearing what I want to wear and making more time for myself. Now I can look back at these pictures as a reminder to myself of what I can do.
I’m definitely coming back!
Q) Would you recommend BYB Photography to a friend or a domestic abuse survivor and why?
A) Yes, I would recommend BYB Photography to both friends and DA survivors. It’s so empowering. You’re on your own and you can be 100% yourself. No one is there to judge you or to bring you down. I think you definitely have to be at a certain point following an abusive relationship before doing this, but it is such a great boost to be able to say, “nobody is ruling me, I am ruling me!” You will see your photos at the end and think “wow! Is that actually me?”
Q) Is there a final message you would love to share for people struggling with domestic abuse?
A) Never be afraid of yourself or looking after yourself. You are so important! I don’t want anyone to think “I could never do anything like a boudoir photoshoot” because I also never thought I would step through BYB’s doors. But here I am! Just keep looking forward because even though it may feel miles away, it’s still possible.
Links & Resources
Visit the NHS website for advice on getting help for domestic abuse, including how to spot the signs, where to go for support, how to help a friend if you’re worried that they’re being abused, and more.
If you are worried about yourself or someone else, call Juno Women’s Aid’s 24-hour Freephone Helpline: 08088000340. A trained female support worker can offer advice and support, but if you’re not able to get through the first time, leave your name, number and a safe time to call. Someone will call you back ASAP. Find out more about Juno Women’s Aid here.
If you would like to hear more about ‘Anon’s’ story with domestic abuse, you can read her series “The Look of Love” on the Juno Women’s Aid blog.
If, like our client, you would love to enter our confidence boost competition and win a free boudoir experience voucher of your own, click the link below: