Controlling My Gaze – Creative Dissociation in Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures depict the personal experiences of women who have been diagnosed with complex PTSD due to sexual assault and have begun to photograph their lives since.

The photos in this exhibition were created during a workshop for survivors of sexual assault at “A Mobile Room of One’s Own”, led by Dana Salmon, an art therapist and social activist. The exhibition provides a unique platform for the women who attended the workshop to voice an experience that is most often depicted using anonymous illustrations.

Survivors of sexual assault experience memory lapses that are known as dissociation and often manifest as chaotic moments devoid of a sense of time, place or logic. Conversely, the camera served as a tool for remaining present and connected during dissociative moments, a type of “creative dissociation”.

The act of taking and editing photographs allows for a personal, visual manifestation of a frozen reality and enables the photographers to remain active during sleepless moments of hyperarousal. Through it they can process what they do not want to validate; they can know, remember, put into words and attempt to reconstruct their memory. It reduces harmful coping mechanisms such as self-injury, inertia and addiction to sex, alcohol and drugs, and triggers a calming response.

“Something happens when I hold a camera,” Says one. “It feels like it captures my soul, not my appearance.”

Together we reached out to the memory of the assault, touching it gently.

In collaboration with The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.


Kineret Palti

WhatsApp Logo