Project Unbreakable Gives Sexual Abuse Survivors A Voice

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projectunbreakbleembedPhoto: Via Project Unbreakable Tumblr.

This is one of the most remarkable documentary projects we've ever seen. Collecting the stories of victims of sexual abuse, Project Unbreakable was started in 2011 by a 19-year-old woman named Grace Brown. It's part photo series by Brown herself, part blog composed of submissions by others. Each of these women and men holds a sign with the words used by his or her attacker, or those spoken after the fact by cops or family members, on a piece of paper. Some choose to show their faces, and others do not. The individual stories are upsetting. But the sheer volume of them is harrowing.

Brown began the project after becoming interested in abuse cases — spurred by Law & Order: SVU, of all things. She joined the abuse survivor network Joyful Heart Foundation, founded by Law & Order's Mariska Hargitay, while she was in high school. But Project Unbreakable came together after a friend shared her story of abuse with Brown. Since then, she has taken and collected hundreds if not thousands of images — of people of every race, gender identity, and age. Brown now tours at universities around the country, giving presentations about her work with Project Unbreakable.

But the site, and the brief but potent stories shared on it, is also powerful enough to speak for itself:

"It’s okay. I’m clean."

"If you were my daughter I would have killed you." - Lady police officer while being interrogated

"It's your duty as my girlfriend."

Horrible. But so important. (Project Unbreakable)