In our society, the topic of sexual abuse is often considered taboo.
Victims fear openly sharing their experiences, and the public feel uncomfortable in responding to those stories and supporting the victims as they heal.
But that is not true for Project Unbreakable.
A photography project, launched in the United States, has been breaking down the walls that we’ve built that have left the victims of sexual assault in silence. Called Project Unbreakable, it aimed to give a voice to the victims. Those involved are photographed holding posters that feature quotes from their attackers, each one making a powerful statement about rationalisation and the flawed acceptance of this abhorrent behaviour by perpetrators.
Project Unbreakable was started in October of 2011 by then 19-year-old photographer Grace Brown. Originally, the project featured only photos of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. As the project grew, this theme was expanded to include photos from survivors of child abuse and domestic violence as well.
Grace Brown never intended for the project to become as big as it had. The main intention in the early days was for it to create an awareness by showcasing the individual stories of survivors. But as it expanded, it became clear that Project Unbreakable gave many survivors an outlet in their healing process.
The Project Unbreakable team has travelled to colleges and universities around North America to discuss violence awareness and to showcase Project Unbreakable. Since it began, the project has accepted more than 4,000 photographs, including those sent in from locations all over the world.
Everyone Has A Story
One thing that sets Project Unbreakable apart from other similar projects over the years is their encompassing attitude to survivors. The project encouraged all victims of abuse to speak up and share their personal experiences:
This is a refreshing view for many victims of abuse, who of course come in all shapes and sizes. Preconceived notions about what makes a ‘real’ victim of abuse is one of the many things that can stop survivors from speaking out.
In any case, all of those people who have been involved in Project Unbreakable over the years deserve to be commended for their strength and courage.
Standing up, recognising and calling out abuse is one of the hardest things that survivors face in their journey moving forward. Being supported through projects like this, as well as by the many organisations and foundations out there, make it just a little bit easier. Certainly, we applaud all those involved in the project for the great fortitude they have shown in sharing their very personal stories with the world.
Starting The Dialogue
The Project Unbreakable team recently announced on Tumblr that after four years of running the project, they were closing their doors. In their statement, they said that the project had become bigger than they ever thought it could have become, and they were grateful for all the people who had shared their stories, and helped others in their own healing journeys.
Although Project Unbreakable is no longer continuing online, they encourage all of those who have been involved in the project and inspired by it to continue to share their experiences with the world and encourage a dialogue. More discussion on the topic of abuse in all the forms it comes in is the first step, and long overdue in our culture.
A greater awareness leads to a greater understanding, a state of mind that both survivors and the public can benefit from.