uncovering the silence

***trigger warning for those affected by sexual assault or rape***

i'm tired of asking what people's dreams are.

so, i'm going to take you on a nightmare.

i want you to imagine the person you trust the most. this could be a person of either the same or different gender, close to your age or not close at all, your teacher or your parent. when you have this person in your mind, picture yourself with them where you usually see them. you could be playing video games with your best friend, asking your teacher for help after school, or maybe you're just sleeping in your bed at home.

let's continue.

you notice that there is something different about the way they are staring at you this time. it almost makes you uncomfortable, but you know it shouldn't because they wouldn't do anything to hurt you.

...right?

they get closer to you and then all of a sudden you're on the floor and they have a grip so tight you can't get away. you think to yourself, "why are they doing this?" you tell them to stop, but they don't. your words mean nothing. you start fighting back, but come to the realization it's not going to change anything.

suddenly, your grip is loosened and you're letting your clothes come off, and not by the touch of your own hands.

you can see the bruises forming on your wrists. oh, and the body you were saving for someone special? it's no longer saved.

there is a strength that comes from inside you and somehow you're running down the street. your ribs feel cracked and you can't catch your breath. they're finally off of you. you cry, not knowing if it's relief because you're gone or sadness because you just lost the right to your own body.

you can't go anywhere. no one would ever believe that they did this to you. you keep to yourself and try not to replay that event over and over and over again.

let's close this nightmare and realize that,

you were sexually assaulted.

as i started my journey at washington state, i found that more survivors came to me with their stories. much similar to the one i just told. i realized that too many people i love were affected by malicious men and women who put their sexual desires before other's feelings.

why would i just stand there and nod along saying "i'm sorry" and then continue on with my life? i decided that this would not be the path i chose. i decided that standing up against sexual violence was something that i needed to do.

putting both my passion for photography and standing against sexual violence together, i created a photo project that gave people the chance to stand up for survivors and raise awareness.

i don't know what any of these people's affiliation with sexual assault is, if any, but i do know they want to help make a difference. and that's all that matters.

#itsonus