Rape and sexual assault have been in the media far too much lately. Politicians and authorities have tried to define and redefine what these words mean, who they can happen to, and what kinds of sexual assault are “legitimate”. The people that we often do not hear from are the survivors themselves—people of all ages, races, and genders who have been forced to remain silent due to society’s stigma about sexual assault.
Project Unbreakable was created to end that silence. Started in 2011 by a young photographer named Grace Brown, Project Unbreakable documents the pain of rape and sexual assault on its real victims. Brown photographs survivors holding posters that have quotes from their attackers written on them. These quotes are raw and shocking—many imply incest and sexual assault at a very young age. The survivor’s faces, strong and steady above such harmful words, reaffirms the bravery and strength of sexual assault survivors who have come out about their stories in an attempt to help others.
Grace Brown has photographed over 200 survivors, and the Project Unbreakable website has received thousands of self-photographed submissions. Brown travels around the United States to big cities and small towns to photograph sexual assault survivors. Her photographs are posted on the project’s website along with the date and the place that the photograph was taken—showing that survivors of rape and sexual assault are everywhere. They are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, and friends. For many of them, participating in Project Unbreakable is a step in their healing process. For others, it is a political statement. The project as a whole represents the difficult healing process of rape and sexual assault survivors and the struggles they have gone through just to have their stories truly heard.
You can view all of Grace Brown’s Project Unbreakable images at the project’s website.