“No one will love you with four kids.”

Those were the words Ashley McCowan heard from her abuser for years.

After leaving her abuser, she decided to stand up for others by doing something she loves – photography.

“I love my clients. They’re probably my favorite part,” she says.

Two years ago, McCowan photographed herself and other domestic violence victims.

She hasn’t always been able to stand up for herself though.

“I didn’t really know if I was who I thought I was or who my ex told me I was,” she says.

She says she wanted people to know domestic violence is worldwide.

“It really does happen here, in Missouri, not just in big cities,” she says.

One in four women and one in seven men have been abused.

Dating after an abusive relationship isn’t easy but McCowan says she finally found someone who makes her feel safe.

“He never yells, never raises his voice. He loves doing things with the family,” she says.

McCowan says her husband and children are living happily. She wants domestic violence survivors to know there is a life after abuse.

“We have six kids. The girls like dressing up. The boys like baseball and things like that,” she says.

If you are leaving a violent relationship McCowan says to form a safety plan.

“Don’t tell them your’e leaving” she says.

The best part of photographing domestic violence survivors?

“Just seeing they got out and this is who they are now,” she says.

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