Posts Tagged "new york city"

The poster reads:

"Touch me. I need to be touched."

I was raped in 1996, days after my 22nd birthday. 16 years later, I still hear this phrase. Like it just happened.. yesterday.

Photographed in New York City on July 16th.

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1) Hannah’s poster: I told. 

 “When I was eleven, I was sexually abused. I told my mom as soon as it happened, and we pressed charges against my abuser. My mom took me to speak to police detectives, and she testified for me in court. After being sexually abused I went through a period of time where I was uncomfortable with my body, and wore baggy clothes. There were times where it has been hard for me to be intimate with another person, but because the abuse had not been repressed, I was able to start healing from it soon after it happened. Having been sexually abused, -while unfortunate and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone- has made me part of who I am today. But I know that I would not have been able to move on from there if I had not told.”  

Vivian’s poster: I didn’t know I could tell.

Vivian was sexually abused as a child, but didn’t realize she had the right or ability to tell, and she actually blanked it out so she didnt even remember the abuse. It was 10 years before she remembered and disclosed that she had been molested repeatedly over 2 or 3 years. She suffered a lot during those years, without knowing what made her act out. Finally when she was 25, it all came back to her and her healing journey could begin. Vivian became a social worker who worked with kids who were sexually abused for many years. She also teaches new social workers to work with sexual abuse issues.

 She had her daughter, Hannah. Hannah was sexually abused at age eleven. 

2) Because of the differences, we started JustTell.

Inspired by her daughter’s strength and by how Hannah was able to let go of any sense of responsibility or blame for what happened to her, Vivian had the idea for JustTell. When she saw the difference between how she suffered over those ten years before she remembered and disclosed her abuse history, and how Hannah was able to let go of what happened to her once she let go of the burden of and told her mom, Vivian realized other kids needed to know that if they have been sexually abused, they need to choose an adult they trust and …just tell.

With the advice of many other professionals and teen focus groups online and in Hannah’s school, they started JustTell in 2007.

From the website JustTell.orgThe mission of Just Tell is to reach out to youth aged 8 to 17 who are being sexually abused in order to convey, in age-appropriate language, that: they are not alone, they are not to blame for the abuse and should feel no guilt or shame, and that they need to choose a trustworthy adult in their life and tell them about the sexual abuse. The secondary mission of JustTell is to educate and empower all youth around the issue of childhood sexual abuse.

3) You have every choice to use your voice.

 Hannah, shortly after her abuse, wrote a poem about her journey, which featured this line.

Although I told my family and police detectives that I had been sexually abused, it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I decided to tell someone my age. I realized after I told that I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and it felt good to tell. I found out that though being sexually abused is my secret, it is also my choice who to tell it to. I wrote a poem after telling the first person my age, titled ‘A Secret You Don’t Have To Keep’ about deciding not to keep this secret, and wrote the words ‘Don’t ever say, you don’t have a choice/For you have every choice to use your voice’ as a message of encouragement for myself and others to speak up. Because unlike what abusers say, you do not have to keep their secret, and I know that in my experience I feel a sense of relief every time I tell.”

Photographed in Brooklyn, NY on June 6th.

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The poster reads:

“But all he did was touch you right?” - the most common response when sharing what happened to 5 and 7 year old me.

Photographed in New York City on July 16th.

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The poster reads: “I care about you.”

It was after I suggested very matter-of-factly that he only wanted to have sex. He got on top of me, retorted that he cared about me. I told him to stop. He said it over and over again throughout the whole thing, as if to literally beat it into me. And even though I know he didn’t mean it when he said it, those words remain inextricably tied to that moment so that whenever they’re spoken, regardless of the speaker or scenario, they remain within that context. It’s a phrase now that always feels unbelievable and slightly antagonistic when I hear it. I’ve carried it as a dark and cynical lesson to never believe it from anyone. I hope that by taking those words outside of myself I can let them and the meaning they’ve carried go. And maybe when I do hear those words again it will be without his voice or his meaning attached to them, and they can finally mean something else.

Photographed in New York City on June 8th.

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The poster reads:

"Just take it."

"You know you like it."

"Just the tip."

"It is your fault because you make me so hard."

"Why do you keep going back?

"Why didn’t you fight?"

"Im sorry for what you think I did."

A year and a half later: “I’m sorry for any hurt I caused you.” 

Photographed in New York City on June 8th.

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The posters read: 

"Are all American girls this hard to get? Chinese girls & French girls are easier."

"When you sober up, don’t freak out."

Photographed in New York City on June 8th.

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Chris Gavagan is a Brooklyn filmmaker working on a documentary about sexual abuse in sports called “Coached into Silence”. In this documentary, he asked his old coach to be interviewed, pretending the film was more along the lines of honoring him. He confronted this man, who abused him as a child, asking “what he felt about the abuse he caused” while on camera. The quote on the poster, “It’s all about being unembarrassed and unashamed,” was the coach’s response - what I’m assuming as a very guilty, very caught off-guard one. Chris currently travels to film survivors for Coached into Silence. Find more info here.

Photographed in Brooklyn, NY on June 6th.

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The posters read:

"I’m going to rock your world you bitch."

"It’s not our fault she got drunk and got herself in trouble. Tell her to get over it." - my sister to my mother

Photographed in New York City on June 5th.

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The poster reads: “I want you to stick up for yourself.”

Photographed in New York City on June 3rd.

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The poster reads: “Our family is blessed. You could be pregnant and I could be in jail. God had mercy.” - my ex-stepfather after the court downgraded 7 years of child sexual abuse to battery.. even though I testified and he confessed.

Photographed in New York City on June 3rd.

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The poster reads:

1 in 6 males are sexually abused before age 18 - far more than are at risk for diabetes (1 in 10) or heart disease (1 in 8).

At 8 I became a statistic - at 30 I became a survivor. (Most male survivors take at least 20 years to begin healing - if they ever do)

For 22 years I lived in silence. Now I want the world to know - what happened to me can happen to anyone. Both the abuse and the healing. 

www.malesurvivor.org // @malesurvivorORG on Twitter

"For every 100 friends you have on Facebook, 15-20 (at least) are survivors of sexual abuse."

Photographed in New York City on June 2nd.

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(click each image to enlarge)

This has a story connected to today, which is why I am posting it in addition to the other two images being posted.

This woman is named Maile. She is the CEO of an organization called the Joyful Heart Foundation.

When I was sixteen, I began watching a TV show called Law and Order: SVU. Curious about the actress who portrayed Olivia Benson, the lead female character, I googled and started reading about Mariska Hargitay. I learned that she created Joyful Heart, an organization that created a retreat for survivors of sexual assault, and I was immediately consumed by everything about it. I couldn’t believe how much they were doing for survivors, but most of all, I couldn’t believe how high the statistics were. I began repeating statistics and facts to my lunch table at school every day. That was the seedling that began my interest in this field.

Then, in February, I stated on my private Twitter account that one day, I would collaborate with the Joyful Heart. Along with it, I said that positivity gets you places.

A week later, Maile, the woman in these photos, emailed me. Out of the blue. And two weeks after that, I found out they were choosing to honor me at this year’s gala in NYC. Tonight is the night of the gala.

I am honored to be the person capturing Maile’s strength in these photographs. She is a truly extraordinary person.

And I am honored to be a part of tonight’s event. I don’t know if I have enough words to describe how it feels.

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Photographed on March 18th in NYC. 

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Photographed on March 18th in NYC. 

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