Project Unbreakable is a photography project by Grace Brown that gives survivors a voice. Survivors of sexual violence write words spoken by their attacker and then hold them up to be photographed. The photograph is then posted online.
Surviving sexual violence is more often than not an experience overwhelmed by silence and shame. Rarely do survivors get the opportunity to tell their story – in part or in full – on their own terms. Rarely do we get to take control over the process of telling. Rarely is there an opportunity to out the tactics of the abuser, to demonstrate how they did what they did and to hold them accountable for the words they spoke.
Project Unbreakable provides survivors with an opportunity. An opportunity to speak for themselves about what was done to them. An opportunity to out their attacker and the words used against them, to turn those words back upon the person responsible for them. An opportunity to hold their attacker accountable and to stand up for themselves, to publicly refuse shame and silence. An opportunity to have their abuse witnessed, to be seen and to be heard and to remain in control whilst doing so. To take control, to claim their voice and, thereby, begin the process of healing.
In providing survivors with these opportunities, Project Unbreakable shifts the tone that surrounds sexual violence. It lifts the burden of shame and silence. It creates a culture of belief, a place of control, a reflection of the strength that accompanies survival.
As hard as it can be to do, finding a way to speak what was done to you and being believed, is for many of us a necessary step to overcoming victimhood, to transcending the violence, to becoming ourselves once more. Project Unbreakable provides survivors with a simple way to do this. At the same time, Grace’s project also provides the rest of us with a remarkable chance to witness the reality and consequences of rampant sexual violence and to stand in solidarity with the victims. To witness their hurt and to share the burden of their story.