She called her painting, a vision of a woman fleeing a cage, Freedom. Three months after being rescued from human trafficking, she still felt anything but free.

“I had drawn a woman in a white dress, signifying purity, floating up from a cage. At the bottom of the cage were black-and-white photos of syringes and very unhappy people crying and sad. She was going upwards, headed toward an array of different humans, colorful and smiling and happy.”

The survivor, who requested anonymity to preserve her safety, had joined other survivors for an artists’ workshop in 2019 at the now-closed Psychedelic Robot Immersive Art Experience at the Crescent.

With the help of the artists, she started to paint.

“The coolest part was being able to take my story, take this part of me that had been shut off, the creative part, and turn it back on. When I was in ‘the

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A new photography project gives us a glimpse of the complex healing journey of sexual assault survivors.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but for Eric Paull, some of those words can represent harrowing memories.

“Five, six years old, the abuse started,” Paull said.

Paull was abused at a young age and turned to the Sexual Assault Center in Nashville later in life to help start his healing journey through its programs and counseling.

“The first step is awareness,” Paull said. “It’s hard for people to talk about it, and that’s why it’s hard for them to do the work because it involves a lot.”

It’s that work Paull, and fellow survivors are hoping to inspire others to begin through documentary photographer Dan Heller’s new project.

“People don’t want to be constantly defined by that one event in their lives,” Heller said. “They are

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