[NOTE: Trigger Warning.]
People look to art for countless reasons. Entertainment. Information. Distraction. Validation. Meaning. It can do all those things, it can do none of those things. It’s entirely what we make it. And sometimes, just sometimes, it can give us the power to heal ourselves. Or, at the very least, help start to put the pieces back together. There are countless worthy art projects in the world. Some are more famous than others. Some are more effective than others. But today, today I feel moved beyond words to talk about Project Unbreakable. It’s a simple concept, so simple it’s surprising it hasn’t been done before. That is to photograph sexual assault survivors holding the posters with quotes from their attackers. In essence, it a project to “take the power back of the words that were once used against them.” Will this project end sexual assault as we know it? No. Every two minutes someone in the Unites States is sexually assaulted. But what it can do is help to heal those who have been assaulted and release the shame that is all too often associated with such attacks.
I feel fortunate so far in my life to not be among those statistics. But women I know, women I love deeply, are. And there are so many more, both men and women. Project Unbreakable was started by Grace Brown, a 19-year-old freshman at The School of Visual Arts in New York. Scrolling through the project filled me with both anger and hope. Anger at a society that allows attackers to think treating another human being this way is ever acceptable. Hope that we can come together to heal the hurt and turn the shame around onto the people who really deserve it. We humans can be monstrous sometimes. But we can also be each other’s better, unbreakable angels. I want to live in a world with more of the latter.
Project Unbreakable is in the midst of a modest funding project. You won’t find any red bracelets or hip posters or action kits for sale, but there are several nifty gifts available at different funding levels. Check it out and throw it a few dollars if you can.
For those seeking counseling or emergency support, please contact RAINN for free and confidential help.