We called the project “Weapon of Choice” because we found that physical abuse and verbal abuse often go hand-in-hand, and the choice to render emotional harm rather than physical harm is just that: a choice.
The scars of emotional abuse are invisible, and victims of abuse don’t often talk about it.
I want people to are quick to dismiss bullying or verbal abuse to take a second look. We’re going going to make the use of these photos free for non-profit organizations serving victims of domestic violence, child abuse, or bullying, and I hope they can use these photos to spread awareness of the problem.
A lot of people have a “sticks and stones” attitude towards bullying and verbal abuse, but I kept hearing stories about how deeply it affects people. I felt that if people could see these photographs, more people might take this issue seriously.
It’s one thing for a parent to volunteer their children to participate in an anti-abuse campaign, but once they showed up to the studio and saw the list of hurtful words that we had prepared, they were uncomfortable picking out a bad word that would be painted on their kid’s face. Some parents couldn’t do it, and they said they trusted me to pick the word. A word has a lot more gravity when you contemplate literally wearing it on your face.
My brothers and sisters and I were all abused as children — physically and emotionally. For me, I feel like the verbal abuse hasn’t had a life-long impact, but I know that for some of my siblings, it’s deeply affected their lives.
There were people that I’ve known for a long time who participated in this project, and I heard personal stories of abuse that really surprised me, stories I had never heard … It was a cathartic experience for a lot of us.
One thing that really became apparent during the shoot is that in any abuse situation, there are three people: the abuser, the abused, and a witness. I don’t think I’ve ever really been the abuser in my life, but I realised that I’ve been a passive witness to abuse — I didn’t to anything to report it or stop it — and that’s just as bad.