When I cooked up this idea of using a day of glamour and beauty to celebrate the unbelievable strength of women to honor the one billion rising movement, I hoped that I could “do it right.” Meaning… I wanted to show not victims, not mere survivors, but THRIVERS in all of their beautiful strength.
Garneita could write the book on this (and there is a chance she may… so stay tuned!). Turns out, I didn’t have to worry about telling their stories, right or wrong. I just had to be there with my camera to capture the story unfolding. I hope that Garneita knows just how inspiring she is.
Garneita was born into an abusive family. She experienced torture at school. She dreamed of having a family of her own, where she would never make the same mistakes. She had two babies with a high school sweetheart and when she came home from the hospital with the littlest, she saw his engagement announcement in the paper…to another woman.
She began drinking and met a man with “gorgeous blue eyes” and moved to GA with him. He had drug and alcohol addictions and became abusive. They welcomed another baby and he was soon transferred to Alaska and when the family moved, things went from bad to worse. One day, his friend called Garneita and told her that her husband was planning to murder their baby first, making her watch. Then her older children. Finally, her.
She left. She called the police and went to an abused women’s shelter where she stayed only three weeks. She bought a car, she got a job and supported her family.
One day, Latter Day Saints missionaries came to her door and changed her life forever. Heavenly father loved her, they showed her.
She moved from Alaska after learning that her ex husband planned to hire someone to kill her and her children.
She met a wonderful man at a church dance. They fell in love and married. Between them, they had 8 children. They welcomed two more and now are grandparents to 23!
Garneita also worked as a volunteer for victims of sexual assault and helped many women through her work. However, watching her with the other women here in my studio yesterday, I know that she continues to touch many lives every day, even if she doesn’t know it.
She is always smiling, warm, inviting. Even knowing her story, it was hard to imagine that the beautiful, bubbly, funny lady in front of me had experienced so much. I just loved my short time getting to know her!! THANK YOU, Garneita, for joining. I know that you will continue to touch so many lives! XOXO