Driven by recent events I have created a three piece series involving fellow sexual assault survivors. My inspiration for these pieces came from the tale of Medusa, and how the story speaks to the strength and unity survivors share after going through these experiences.
In Greek mythology, Medusa was a victim of rape who ended up becoming a monster. The myth can be seen as a parallel to the tragic experience that is had by victims of sexual assault and violence. Like Medusa, women who experience this suffer the betrayal, psychological and physical violation, and misplaced blame for the crimes that are committed against them. But also like Medusa, they carry within themselves the ability to rise above these violations and attacks; to draw on their strength and live a life centered on creative renewal instead of destruction.
I was further inspired by the influx of women coming forward with their own survivor stories, many of which were kept secret and were being told for the first time after watching other brave survivors speak out in the media. Others had their own experiences that were reported, but sadly not much was done to find justice for them (which can be all too common). The outpouring of empathy fellow survivors have shown one another has been profound, along with the compassion and understanding from others. Unfortunately some survivors have experienced backlash after coming forward, but this series shows the strength and resilience these survivors possess in the face of this unjust response. It shows their empowerment. It shows that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone. That even though these brave, strong, fierce women have endured life altering moments of the ultimate violation, they still persevere whether they realize that strength within themselves or not. Being a victim of rape leaves you feeling powerless, violated, insecure, paranoid, and filled with a paralyzing fear of it happening again. It leaves you feeling ashamed and dirty. Could society’s immediate reaction of questioning and doubting the victim be part of what leaves them feeling broken and full of shame? If we showed compassion and understanding as an immediate reaction rather than blame and uncertainty, more victims would feel comfortable coming forward. Maybe fewer of these victims would feel shame and guilt, while already battling the feelings of powerlessness after this type of abuse.
Drastic changes need to be made. There is strength in numbers, and there is strength in your voice. If we survivors and supporters continue to unify and push forward, there’s no doubt we will make a change for the better.
For now, let us find inspiration in each other’s strength, continue to lean on and defend one another, and hope for a future where we live in a society that doesn’t dismiss the abuser and shame the victim.
I want to personally thank the seven brave women that came forward, trusting my vision, and willing to participate in a project that means so much to me.
More info: aprillovephotography.com
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