Abuse survivors speak out by dressing up

Non-profit host photo shoot for social campaign
Posted at 12:12 PM, Aug 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 13:33:22-04

Inside Cinderella’s Formal Gown Rentals, three women are speaking out on domestic violence by dressing up.

For Bri Krambeck, this story could have been very different.

“If I wasn’t out in that time period, you’d be covering my funeral,” she says. “That was how tragic it was. My doctors, everyone was begging me to get out.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 20 people become victims of intimate partner abuse every minute in the U.S.

But instead of remaining a statistic, Krambeck believes this is a tale about empowerment.

Choose Courage Foundation is hosting “Emerge Photo Shoot,” featuring a specific model call for 15 women who have survived domestic abuse. It is part of a social media campaign set to launch in October, the awareness month for domestic violence.

“Doing this shoot for Emerge is huge for me,” says Krambeck. “I feel like it kind ends my healing process. It's something beautiful that came out of something tragic.”

Each model has her own story.

“I was a little hesitant at first, because I am not a survivor first-hand of domestic violence,” says Angie Rodriguez.

Her daughter, Melissa Rodriguez, died at the hands of her abuser in 2013.

“I feel that I am the mom or the sister or the family member or the friend that is left after the tragic loss of someone, of a loved one to domestic violence,” she says inside the store.

When Rodriguez wears her dress for the shoot, she says she will be doing so in the memory of her daughter.

For the organizers and survivors, the shoot is less about dressing up and more about stripping down the stigma of being a survivor of domestic abuse. The social media campaign will also help women right here in the metro.

A hundred percent of the proceeds will go to a soon-to-be non-profit Survivors Rising, says Jacey Gengenbach, founder of Survivors Rising.

Choose Courage is partnering with Survivors Rising to bring awareness to the immediate area.

“We are a working group dedicated to education, support and advocacy for all affected by intimate partner violence. So it will be like support groups [and] classes,” Gengenbach says.

Two years after her last relationship nearly turned deadly, Krambeck has this message for others in similar situations:

“We do survive, we do get out. There is hope afterwards.”

To learn more about Choose Courage Foundation, click here.