In one photograph, a young woman is shown, her head thrown back, her neck partly encircled in dark paint from the brush drawn across her throat.

The subject of another photograph bares their arm, which bears a series of tell-tale cuts.

Simple but stark captions — Stay Alive, Don't Drown — are emblazoned in red ink over the photographs, depicting the themes explored by the 20-year-old photographer, a survivor of sexual violence.

The public, she hopes, will “be able to find their own story through my art.”

The photographs are part of a new exhibit opening at the Hicksville Public Library on Saturday. The show, put on by The Safe Center, Nassau’s main not-for-profit for victims of “interpersonal violence,” highlights art from survivors ranging from music to poetry.

A first for the Bethpage-based center, which serves all ages and all victims, advocates hope it will become an annual event, said Katie Shaw, its director of Children’s Mental Health Services.

“For people who have experienced abuse, it’s so hard to put that into words sometimes, so to have another medium to express yourself, to kind of put your pain on paper, can be really powerful and healing — to kind of put your voice out there in a way other people can kind of take in,” Shaw said.

The attention-commanding photographs, shot in black-and-white, were created by Sam, who requested she only be identified as a Nassau County resident.

From her earliest childhood, photojournalism and documentaries were powerful magnets.

“The first time I picked up a camera, I was 13, but I never knew what to take pictures of. Pictures of trees — nothing seemed interesting to me,” she said.

Procrastinating until the night before the deadline for a Vice Media Group project, which required 10 pictures, she suddenly realized she could tell her own story.

Sam is the victim of abuse she said began when she was 14, culminating in a rape one year later, and cruel bullying.

“Each picture of what I had gone through was like the physical result on my face of the trauma," Sam said. "And each picture after that was like the shock, the depression, the healing stage and all of that — so each picture represented something else, but they all went together.”

Sam found herself drawn to chronicling other people’s trauma after discovering this helped her cope with her own.

“Sam is just an incredibly talented individual and really can kind of brilliantly put her feelings into art, and other people’s feelings into art. And in her healing process, she’s been able to help others," said Shaw.

She added, “It’s not only helping her in the process, it’s helping others, which is really beautiful.”

One reason the photographs are so powerful is Sam’s exceptional gift of empathy, said Shaw.

Said the photographer: “Being that I’ve gone through my own stuff, the people that I’ve photographed have been comfortable enough to put their trust in me, and some people just need to vent, they just need someone to talk to.” 

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