PORTSMOUTH - Deb Cram has dedicated her life to telling other peoples stories through photographs. The goal has always been to raise awareness and make a difference in the community. She has done this tirelessly for more than 20 years but it wasn’t until she was covering The Kids Are Our Business breakfast for Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) that she realized she needed to tell her own story.
“As I listened to Detective Rick Labell of the Raymond Police Department share his story of family alcohol and sexual abuse, saying he uses his knowledge and experience to help kids who are abused, I thought I might be able to do the same thing. I got in my car, found a scrap piece of paper and started writing,” said Cram. The images from her childhood came rapidly to her mind and she wrote them down as if writing simple captions for a photo series. That 10 minute writing spree was published in the Portsmouth Herald the next day under the headline ‘We Need to Talk About Abuse’. It seemed like such a simple thing to get the word out about her experiences and she hoped that it would help others going through similar struggles.
Each memory began with the word “Click”, an accurate lead in for images that would linger for a long time. “Click: I remember hiding under a coffee table when I was around 3; I held tight to my dog while crying and watching my brother — just 6 — hold a gun to my father and try to make him stop beating my mother.” One of seven memories described in the piece. The response to the article was overwhelming. Cram’s email and Facebook account was flooded with messages. Many were inspired by her courage to come forward about her experiences.
The article also brought much needed attention to SASS. “After Deb published her piece we received many phone calls from people that had no idea we existed. We have been able to help people that might not have reached out before,” explains Kathy Beebe, Executive Director of SASS.