Photog Exposes Unbreakable Stories Of Sexual Assault
April is sexual assault awareness month, and a Manhattan photography student has aimed her lens at one of the most taboo subjects in society as part of a project that's growing larger by the day and goes beyond just raising awareness. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Photographer Grace Brown doesn't just ask sexual assault survivors to share their darkest secrets with her, she asks them to share with the world. It's a deeply emotional and cathartic journey she calls "Project Unbreakable."
"I work with survivors of sexual assault and they write a poster and they hold the poster with a quote from their attacker and I photograph them," Brown says.
Brown is a photography major at the School of Visual Arts in Gramercy. The project was inspired In October after a friend confided in Grace that she had been abused.
"I went home feeling very distraught and upset for my friend. And I woke up the next morning I had the idea of the project of Unbreakable in my head," Brown recalls.
Brown has photographed about 100 survivors. The images and a video about her project can be found on her "Project Unbreakable" Tumblr page, but the project has grown in unexpected ways.
"I first photographed people that I knew. And by two weeks in, I was getting emails from all the country, all around the world, asking to be photographed and to submit their own images," Brown says.
More than 800 more survivors have sent in their own photographs. Brown, who once thought about being a sexual assault counselor, says at first she did not understand at first the power of the project.
"At first, I did it to be able to say, you know, 'Look how many people are affected by this. Look at the numbers,'" Brown says. "And I didn't realize, that there was a healing power behind taking back those words, and being able to stand and say, 'Yeah, that happened to me and that's ok. And I'm, I'm doing ok.'"
Grace admits the project does take an emotional toll on her so she's developed another photography project that allows her to do something a lot lighter.
"I do a fun project now at school, where I just photograph most parts of my life with my cellphone. And that's really fun for me," Brown says.
But letting survivors know they are not broken is Brown's main mission. It's a project so powerful, even a survivor without a single quote to share felt compelled to be part of it.