I was born in Croydon in north east Surrey, England of Australian parents.
My father was a jazz musician and composer, and like many artists of his era, he was drawn to England’s thriving music industry. He was successful and made many appearances on both BBC television and radio and London Weekend Television. His music was used in several TV series over the years, most notably the World of Sport Theme which ran for 20 years. He was also a performer playing jazz violin in cabarets etc; mainly in England but also in Australia and many countries overseas.
I was blessed as my father always encouraged my creativity, and I miss him greatly. My mother was a stay-at-home mum, and kept our family organised and our home beautiful with her own artistic talent. I have two brothers, both born in Australia.
From a very young age I loved to dance. I studied ballet as a child, and attended dance college until the age of 18.
After leaving college, I was a photographic model for a number of years. It was through modelling that I met photographer Suzie Mitchell. She was to become my friend and mentor.
I married an Englishman at the age of 19. We had five children together. Our first son and daughter were born in England, we then emigrated to Australia in 1983 where we had a son and two daughters.
I began my career in photography when my children were young by taking stock images . These images ended up being used for magazine covers, book covers, posters and for various editorial uses. Since then I have moved into several different forms of portrait photography.
When my children were young, I designed and made clothes for them and also for myself. I still have a love of dress design and creation and am currently putting together a fine art collection of mythical style images combining photos of women wearing dresses I’ve designed and made, photoshop, painting and drawing.
During my youth I would draw for hours and hours, and when my children reached adulthood, I returned to drawing and also learned to paint. Many of my paintings have sold in galleries and at various arts and crafts markets.
The father of my children and I separated when our youngest child was six, and later divorced. I remarried then legally separated some years later.
In 2004 I changed my name legally for personal reasons to Tay Ashton.
I have five wonderful adult children and am now blessed with three beautiful grandchildren.
I support both the Red Cross and White Ribbon. Red Cross I support for obvious reasons, and White Ribbon for personal reasons.
Like many women who’ve suffered from domestic violence and emotional abuse, I wanted to pretend it never happened and move on with my life. However one of the things that helped me to recover and move forward was the fact that other women had spoken openly of their experiences both in books and on blogs. Knowing I wasn’t alone and that there was help out there gave me the strength and determination to get my life back on track.
It would have been far easier in many ways to put it all behind me and pretend nothing ever happened, but without raising awareness of domestic violence and emotional abuse, nothing will change. If in some small way I can use my website as a platform to help other women in these situations, then at least I will have made some small difference.
I was lucky in that I had a good network of friends and family to support me. Even given that, there were times when I felt lonely and isolated. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. The internet, books, support groups, helplines and professionals in the area of domestic violence go a long way towards helping women in this position to make some difficult and sometimes life threatening choices.
I have two particularly close friends I’d like to thank who saved my life. Suzie who offered me her home and spent a lot of time keeping me afloat over the years. She was also my mentor, and taught me all she knew about photography. I also have Nicole to thank as she has been an amazing friend, taking me in when I was homeless and looking after me when I was in the depths of despair and depression. I am lucky enough to have several other friends I met in latter years, and they have all been fantastic and a great support to me.
My children and I have developed strong bonds despite our difficulties over the years. They have matured and become decent and caring adults of whom I am very proud.
There are many good books, blogs and other resources available. I personally found books written by Lundy Bancroft particularly helpful. Lundy Bancroft is an author, workshop leader, and consultant on domestic abuse and child maltreatment. In his book, “Why Does He do That” he outlines various abusers modus operandi, for example: ‘The Water Torturer’. Abuse does not have to be physical to be considered abuse.
Below are links to various helplines and books: