With brave wings she flies: tears in a cafe.

 Motherhood portraits in Sydney by Cindy Cavanagh

I sat in the middle of a busy cafe in Beecroft. It was early Monday morning and many were sipping on lattes and cappuccinos. Yet I had tears streaming down my face. They were big fat tears that I couldn't stop. I wiped the tears from my face and looked up. 

I asked, "Can you say that again?"

She reached across the table and held my hand. She looked me in the eyes and said, " Without darkness there isn't light. It takes a village of people to help a women go from the dark to the light".

In that moment, I had found the answer that I had been looking for. I had started the "with brave wings she flies" project with a full heart. I knew I wanted to document survivors of domestic violence but I had no life experience.  I bombarded Give and Take with emails and messages. They are a local charity that help women to flee from a domestic violence situation. They thought my vague idea for a project was a wonderful idea and connected me with some of the women they have helped. Before I had time to even think about it, I was meeting them for portrait sessions. I knew that I wanted to tell their "Now" story and show the love they have for their children. I knew that I wanted to gift these sessions to the Mums because every Mum deserves beautiful photos with their children. I knew I wanted real emotions and connection.

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However with each session, my heart grew heavy. These images were filled with joy and laughter. There was so much light in these images and yet domestic violence is a dark topic. We don't like to talk about it. My heart was so concerned that I wasn't showing the true story of domestic violence. The images were too happy. I had no idea how to address this. I didn't want to fail at this project. I wanted to show these stories in the small hope it may help someone or start a simple conversation.

But with these words, I had the answer that I had been looking for. The lady who sat across from me is part of this project. She is a survivor of domestic violence. Her words lifted the doubt from my heart. There is darkness in domestic violence and from the darkness we can move towards the light. These bright new happy moments don't take away the darkness. They are the just start of a new story. 

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