thought that was all? there's more!   

documentary project

a painful journey & a healing process

Drawings by sexually abused children for the Spanish documentary "Los Monstruous de mi casa" (The monsters in my house), that explores the reality of children abused at home.  

documentary project

a painful journey & a healing process

In Silence is a feature documentary project I wrote on the consequences of child sexual abuse (CSA). I spent three years working exclusively (and slightly obsessively) on this project, which constituted a profoundly transformative process for me. 

In 2013, I read a piece of news showing that, according to the World Health Organization, around 120 million boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 17 were sexually abused worldwide in that year. One-hundred-and-twenty MILLION, which in 2013 meant 18% of girls and 8% of boys on the planet. However, the real numbers are much worse, as it's reckoned that 1 out of 3 children never tells anyone about the abuse, often because the abuser is the father, step-father, a relative or a close friend. I was shocked.   

That reading threw me into an emotional turmoil, and I realised that I would only escape it by facing the life-long trauma I had always denied: I was also sexually abused myself when I was a little girl. For decades, I told myself that those intrusive memories were nothing but a grotesque fantasy of a disturbed mind (without ever questioning why the heck my mind was so disturbed, and why those specific memories). It was easier that way. When I read that news, I knew that I should write to cope with that. It was the beginning of my long and sometimes unbearable healing process.   

Story | Research | Broadcaster Pitch | Interviews​


Drawings by sexually abused children for the Spanish documentary "Los Monstruous de mi casa" (The monsters in my house), that explores the reality of children abused at home.  

painting & drawing 

only art saves 

The years 2007 and 2008 were incredibly difficult for freelance writers in Brazil. Most magazines reduced outsourcing, producing most content in-house instead. I suddenly went from "too busy to socialise" to "my name is Miss spare time". I got severely depressed.  

My heartbeat changed dramatically, always far too fast; I could barely sleep and felt like eating all the time. I put on weight, slept long hours and could never read or write with that level of anxiety. I was a walking pressure cooker. "I need to do something different", I told myself, "otherwise I'll have a breakdown". I saw my kids' art material on the table and felt like drawing. I can't explain the immediate relief it brought, and for a few months, it was all that I could do. Luckily I managed to sell most of my artwork (you can see it here). 

2019-08-07 (100).png


let me look at you 

I have always loved portraits and have done a lot of them with my analogue Nikon FM10, invariably of people I admire. These Brazilian writers and artists gave me the privilege to slowly look at them, in sessions marked by great chats, laughter and tears. 

One day, while photographing the actor Paulo Autran (a giant of the performing arts in Brazil), he said, very melancholic: "I'm the only one under my skin". I would only know he had cancer a couple of months later when he passed away. I think his statement was a manifesto of his solitude back then. I can't imagine anything lonelier than coping with the awareness of one's imminent death.

"I'm the only
one under
my skin"

sophie-marie cakes

a sweet way to make a living


A few times in my life, I had to find creative solutions for financial hardship. The first was when I got divorced in 2001 and was a single mother to two toddlers. I had a full-time job as a junior editor, and my paycheck was not enough to cover our expenses. So I took as many freelance jobs as I could to write at night, after work and when the kids were in bed. Then, again, in 2008, when I was a freelance writer to many Brazilian magazines but could not read or write due to a major depression that lasted almost two years. I started painting in an attempt to reduce my anxiety, and luckily I managed to sell most of my artwork at an exhibition. In 2014, I created an online shop to sell my homemade cakes and pies, which complemented my income for almost one year.    

Art by Alexandre Deruiz @industrilux



to my beloved girls

I have struggled with mental health issues since I was 13, with intermittent periods of depression and anxiety. One could say that I'm a highly functional depressed person, as I have (almost) always worked and raised my kids on my own. But I have experienced times where my depression and anxiety was so intense that I couldn't pursue any intellectual activity. It was a vicious cycle: the lack of good jobs (and money) caused my depression to get worse, but depression itself hindered me to accept good jobs when they came up. It happened in 2005, when I quit my job as an associate editor, then in 2008 and 2014. At each of those times, I found something to keep myself busy while softening my symptoms. It was a relief to see that my dark thoughts didn't stop me from making pretty things.   


why a cactus? 

a life  with depression

I never allowed depression, anxiety or my childhood trauma to define me. However, whether I accept it or not, these things have hugely impacted who I am.

It's impossible to dissociate my career from my struggle with mental health and my never-ending efforts to keep a calm heart, and a focused mind. Whoever has fought depression and anxiety forever as I have, knows the strength it requires not to fall apart. It's easy to become a pessimist when you give all you have, and things don't get better. It's easy to lose confidence when you have to produce, to take care of yourself and those you love, while your inner world is a mess. It's easy to lose hope when you fight a battle each day, for many years, never to relapse - and eventually, you do.

Nonetheless, I am still an optimist. I believe in myself, and I never lost hope that things would be not only different but better. That's why I've chosen a cactus as a symbol. It's the most resilient plant in the world, which resists the worst adversities - and it not only survives, but also flourishes.  


This cactus on my skin reminds me who I am. Tattoo by Gabriel @sleepypalms

+55 11 92020-5532  Sao Paulo - BR

  • linkedin-square

© 2020 by Kika Salvi