I stumbled across this art project today and it kinda blew me away. Just as Postsecret has not only created something that interests, heals, relieves, so does this. The amazing thing is that it is done by a 19-year-old in NYC.
Project Unbreakable brings healing from the very words the perpetrators of sexual assault said to their victims. Many are photographed by Grace herself. Many more have sent their own pictures. And many many more have emailed her asking questions about things that have happened to them. While she is not qualified technically to answer them, she replies to all and is a kind, thoughtful and understanding voice in what can be a wilderness. And she is a victim herself.
This project, and you can look at it here: at Project Unbreakable in some way has helped thousands of victims of sexual assault, and more tellingly, shows the length and breadth of its pervasiveness in society. Here’s the blurb from Grace herself:
“This project was created in October of 2011 by Grace Brown. Grace uses photography to help heal those who were sexually abused by asking them to write a quote from their attacker on a poster and photographing them holding the poster. Rape survivor and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, Yvonne Moss, describes the project as a way for victims to take the power back of the words that were once used against them.
Grace plans on photographing survivors for as long as she possibly can. Her goal is to spread light, awareness, and healing for those who have been affected.
If you are interested in participating by either being photographed or sending in your own image, you may send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
This project brought back for me the words my attacker used almost 15 years ago. I’m not going to post them here. Instead, I’m going to try and send them to Project Unbreakable. Because sometimes I’m still angry and I have dreams of tracking him down and making him accountable. But I’m fairly sure it won’t be possible. Perhaps instead I should use the words he used against me. Or the words the people who should have helped me find justice afterwards used when they did nothing. I don’t think of it often but maybe I’ll be able to close that chapter, knowing I’ve finally used his words for myself.
For all the variety of assaults documented in Unbreakable (parent, family member, stranger, partner, date, male, female), a lot of the language used by the perpetrators seems to reveal patterns. Instilling fear, displaying ignorance, disbelief that s(he) person is doing anything wrong, sheer violence. It’s something lawmakers in all countries should look at.
It’s a great project. Have a look, if you will. Contribute if you want to. Taking back those words for yourself or reading those of others just may help.