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~trigger warning: sexual violence, abuse~

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” (1908) is known as an acclaimed artistic painting of two “lovers.” The woman is on her knees, and the man has his hands wrapped around her throat. It is often unknown and/or unspoken that Gustav Klimt sexually assaulted many of the women in his portraits. This is a dismantling of “The Kiss.” This is a rejection of celebrating and praising the work of abusers, rapists, misogynists, etc. This is a reclamation piece. I once viewed “The Kiss” as a beautiful portrayal of love. I look at it now and I see myself in the hands of those who I have loved and who have harmed me. I see abuse; our culture’s normalization and romanticization of abuse. “The Kiss, Dismantled” is a reckoning, an uprising, and an act of radical self-love.

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She is defusing the bombs they laid inside of her.
She is breaking the cycle.
She is unlearning the fear instilled by abuse that she mistook for love.
She is not defined by her relationship to men. She is defined by no man.
She refuses definition.
She is a survivor. She is a warrior.
She is learning to trust the floorboards again.
She is growing her intuition.
She knows the ground will be there as she steps.
She loves herself with ease.

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