Posts with tag: "Beau Vleuve"
Friday, June 08, 2018
By Hayes Photography
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I met up with Susan on a cold, February day at Panera's and lucky us, we got to enjoy tea in front of the fire! 

As an English teacher at Webster Schroeder HS, Susan often finds herself reading her student's stories. I was so pleased that she decided she'd like to share one of hers.  Not unlike many of the subjects who participated in my project We All Have a Story , it was difficult to narrow in on what story Susan wanted to share.  In fact, we had decided on one and were packing up, when Susan said "I think I want to tell a different story."  Maybe it was the need to get to a comfort level with me to insure that I would take her story seriously or something else, but the one she decided to share was by far a difficult one, sexual assault of a child. 

I struggled for months thinking about how to photograph her and convey her message.  The location had to be just right. The mood was important.  It was a challenge.  I wanted to make sure that the photographic concept would honor her and the words she wrote. I believe we did just that.

In her words:

"Joseph Campbell saved my life, and synchronistically, my hero shares my maiden name.  

I am Susan Campbell Woodward, and I am a Survivor.

Facing the abyss of the Hero’s Journey is a painful process that cannot be avoided if one is to rise in strength on the other side.  My own journey through an abyss filled with both childhood and spousal abuse left me near broken. At a time when I contemplated suicide as a means of escape, The Hero With a Thousand Faces found its way to me.  Campbell’s analysis of the monomyth led me along the arduous journey toward healing, particularly from childhood rape.

Inspired by Campbell, I found catharsis in writing, and the culmination of my healing came from finding the strength to self publish my work. One of my books, Beau Fleuve, is a poetry collection that explores the effects of and recovery from rape and sexual abuse. I felt compelled to publish as a means of reaching out to other survivors.  Sadly, though, my own work has been turned against me as I still face the accusatory words, “I heard…” Throughout my life, these two words most often preceded an attack, usually coming as an effort to silence, or even worse, to shame me.

The #MeToo movement has renewed my courage to hold my head high and refuse to cower under the shadow of someone else’s shame. I will not hide. I did not invite the attack on my eight year old self; I shall be the one to stand tall for that little girl when no one else would and face “I heard…” with dignity.  I will fight for her and for others who have also faced the rumor mill that spits out, “I heard…”

I am a Survivor, and you heard it from me."


Susan's story is one of 26 that are included in an exhibit which runs through June 20 at the Webster Public Library.  To find out more information about this project, Click here.

Thanks for visiting the blog and please be sure to leave a comment about Susan's story, the images or the topic.