Haven + Riddim || Asheville, NC

I'll try & keep these sappy words short, but it's times like these that I'm so humbled with the opportunity I have to create art & have fun with couples who are very much in love. There are so many incredible photographers in my area. I'm so happy that people choose to share their love through my lens.

I met Riddim in the Summer of 2016. He was bartending at a wedding I was photographing. He asked for a business card & told me he had plans to propose to his beautiful girlfriend in the upcoming months. I was so excited when he contacted me months later. Guess who was there to document that ;) And a few months after that these two love bugs volunteered to play in the snow with me one January night ( I'm still obsessed with those photos). 

So with that, all I will say is be kind to every single person you meet, because you never know where that relationship may lead. Fortunately, this one led me barefoot in Asheville with these two incredibly genuine, beautiful people. Oh and guess who also gets to document their wedding next June. ;) 

 

 

 

                 

 

 

 

                         

Me, too.

I'm Kayla, the truly happy face behind Kayla Jean Photography and I'm a victim of child molestation. This is my "Me, Too." 

 

To say this week has been a "triggering" week is an understatement. My sister in law actually used that term, which I find fitting. Are there some who are a little tired of seeing women coming out with their "Me, too?" Well guess what, some of us feel like we can actually breath for once in a long time. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't find some sort of comfort in knowing I'm not in this alone. I've known my sister in law for over 10 years now and guess what I just found out this week from her....  

I want to start with a brief "life check." I'm happy. I truly am. I'm married, I have a wonderful child and I see life in color, most always. 

I'm so nervous writing this. I have this massive lump in my throat. And I really mean that. I feel embarrassed. But I will tell you that I've ALWAYS felt embarrassment if this topic ever came up. Always. Always. Always. I remember in middle school I really wanted to talk about it with my best friend, Allie. But I didn't know how to talk about child molestation? How do you give these awful details to somebody who didn't sign up to hear this? I tried entering the conversation by laughing a lot. I was around 12 years old, I really didn't know how else to do it. I immediately regretted that. Because I realized I wasn't actually ready to talk about that. She listened anyways. 

I'm embarrassed.

I don't know how long I will actually leave this post up and I'm hesitant if this was ever a mistake to begin with. I'm embarrassed. But I want to bring awareness to this particular angle of "Me, Too." 

I can't remember the first or last time it happened. In fact, not until a few years ago when I decided to talk about it to my mom, did she realize whether I truly remembered it fully or not. But I promise you, I rememebered. I could see her heart shatter all over again. There's this thing such as a "raw moment." That's when something is so real & full of emotion to me. And my mom's face was the "raw moment" of my entire life. And to my sweet mom, it was never your fault. 

I really can't begin to describe or talk about "it." But I can share with you the after effects for myself.

I got my first "boyfriend" in the seventh grade. I remember hearing about a slight crush & I pursued it. From there on out the rest of the boyfriends I would have up until I met my husband, Ben, would be because I was in control & I would decide. I have a desperate need to be in control and I know for a fact that it's because of "it."  

I really can't go much further here because I'm still embarrassed. I'm embarrassed because of something that isn't my fault. I wasn't in control.  I'm embarrassed because of the way people could potentially view me, because of "it." I really couldn't help it, but yet here I sit with a racing heart, debating telling you because I feel ashamed. If you're a victim of sexual assault you should NEVER feel embarrassed, but if you do, I understand.

THIS is WHY I'm sharing. Child molestation is REAL. And sometimes it's not even caught. This is why I'm sharing. This week one of my closest friends and mentors shared with me that she was molested as a little girl by her grandfather. She's all grown up now, with a beautiful family of her own. And to my disbelief, her parents still don't know. That's not for me to decide, but I hope that she knows her mom would fight like hell for her if ever she did find out. My mom is the one person who's heart will always break bigger than anyone that knows.

Here's why I'm sharing. I can't remember how it all came out, so I asked my mom when we had this talk a few years back. She tells me that one day she picks me up from my baby sitter's home (I call her grandmother. I love her). She tells me that my grandmother tells my mom that I'm saying very disturbing things to her.

I'm really struggling to go further in my personal experience but just know that your mother would protect you "to death." And that is true statement.

Here's why I'm sharing.

Parents, know who your children are with. KNOW WHO your children are with. KNOW. I feel embarrassed to tell you that every single time I leave my son with someone other than myself I have terrible & disgusting thoughts for a brief second that I don't want to have. I shake them out of my head as fast as I possibly can.  I don't want to have them and I choose not to have them a vast majority of my life.  I'm happy and I will fight like hell for my children. I just need to shed a light and make you aware that sometimes things happen under your own roof that you might not even know.

To anyone who is a victim of any form of sexual assault, I stand with you & I stand for you.  You're not alone, and you're still the best YOU. Or at least I feel like you can be. 

For me, personally. Ask your children questions every single day. Ask them any and everything.  Ask your children everything about life. Because Me, too. 

 

In light of this week, I donated $100 to the Joyful Heart Foundation for the victims of Child Abuse & neglect. 

Click here to donate to this cause